Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Environmental Studies

Ecological Audit

Campus Ecological Audit

In the Spring of 1999, students from three different courses in each of three different campus academic divisions came together to conduct an ecological audit of the Southwestern campus. Students from Dr. Hobgood-Oster's Religion and Ecology course, Dr. Johnson's Society, Culture and Ecology course, and Dr. Niemeyer's Environmental Chemisty course worked together on interdisciplinary teams to investigate the campus's sustainability along eleven parameters:

      Water Use
      Energy Use
      Purchasing Practices
      Recycling Efforts
      Student Lifestyles
      Campus-Community Sustainability Issues
      Campus Infrastructure
      Landscaping
      Non-Human Animals
      Waste Practices
      Academic Curriculum

This was the first time that either the students, or the faculty involved with the audit, had attempted such an endeavor, and students found charting the waters at times difficult and frustrating. Overall, though, they were glad to be involved in something concrete, to be actively trying to improve the ecological condition of one small portion of the world. The final audit reports will each be linked to this page (check back in a few weeks).

For future audits, we plan to consolidate the parameters of investigation, have each student group made up of students from only one course, and give the university community, particularly the administrators and staff whose help we need, plenty of advance notice about the project.

We have already begun to act on the results of this audit: Drs. Hobgood-Oster and Niemeyer are applying for a small grant from the ACS environmental initiative to replace showerheads in student dormitories and apartments with water-saving shower heads to reduce our water usage.

A faculty-staff-student group will convene in the fall of 1999 to continue to work on implementing changes as a result of the audit, and to advise on the structure of future audits.