Academics and Civic Engagement

In  addressing  its  mission  to  shape  knowledgeable,  imaginative,  and  socially-committed citizens capable of continually adapting to an ever-changing world, the College’s academic program already accommodates philosophies, theories and practices that are core to sustainability ideals. The campus culture also fosters a faculty and student body dedicated to an international orientation and pedagogical practices that encourage a broad-reaching exchange of ideas. Consequently, the College is well-poised to incorporate a more sustainability-focused academic program in three ways: i.e. Curriculum, Experiential/Co-Curricular Education, and Scholarship


Currently, the Environmental Studies Concentration is the one program that most directly provides courses focused on sustainability issues. While some faculty from other academic programs incorporate sustainability concerns into their courses, this Sustainability Plan aims to encourage more faculty toward this end across the curriculum and through interdisciplinary courses that are within the bounds of the “K” Plan and the undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. The following goals and strategies seek to deepen and broaden this commitment to sustainability.


  • Identify, facilitate and advance connections among faculty in order to offer courses and programs that address sustainability across the College’s academic divisions: Fine Arts, Humanities, Languages, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Physical Education, Social Sciences.
  • Foster disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge and participation among students, faculty, staff and alumni by cultivating opportunities to build more sustainable communities at the local, regional, national and/or global levels.
  • Facilitate and advance sustainability education through civic engagement and service-learning activities.


  • Engage, encourage and recognize faculty with interests in sustainability.
  • Support the curricular development of a Sustainability Studies Program as a broader, more interdisciplinary approach to the Environmental Studies Concentration.
  • Collaborate with the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Institute for Service-Learning, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, Provost’s Office, and Faculty Development Committee in establishing and providing funding sources for curricular and programmatic development in relation to sustainability.
  • Develop the Lillian Anderson Arboretum as a resource for curricular development and Sustainability Studies Program activities.
  • Establish collaborations between the Center for International Programs, Center for Career and Professional Development, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, and Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Institute for Service-Learning for further development of sustainability-related opportunities locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
  • Seek out and support grant opportunities for curricular and programmatic enhancement through the Director of Faculty Grants and Institutional Research.

Experiential Education

The distinctive experiential components of the “K Plan” (Study Abroad, service learning, Guilds, Internships/Externships, and Senior Independent Projects (SIPs) provide ideal venues for encouraging consciousness-raising, action-oriented projects, and a commitment to sustainability throughout the College community. For example, the Sustainability Guild is establishing campus and community relationships by “foster[ing] connections between the many elements of life at ‘K’ that strive to encourage sustainable practices between students, alumni, faculty and staff, and community partners who are interested in promoting the importance of sustainability.” The Kalamazoo College Recycling Department and student organizations such as EnvOrg and Farms to K contribute significantly to the Climate Commitment. In fact, student leaders were centrally involved in advocating for LEED certification of the Hicks Center and in encouraging President Wilson-Oyelaran to sign on to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The following goals and strategies seek to deepen and broaden the College’s commitment to sustainability.


  • Introduce principles of sustainability to all Kalamazoo College community members through various experiential education opportunities.
  • Identify and create intentional connections among elements of the K Plan, Guilds, student organizations, and curriculum as they relate to sustainability.
  • Develop campus leadership in sustainability among students, faculty and staff.
  • Increase various project opportunities that facilitate links between local, regional, national and international communities involving sustainability issues.


  • Develop the Lillian Anderson Arboretum as a key resource for the leadership and development of experiential education programming in sustainability.
  • Support faculty, student and staff sustainability initiatives as they relate to campus life.
  • Create orientation and training programs that promote sustainability practices for daily living both on and off campus among all students, faculty and staff.
  • Train Campus Life staff to teach, model and encourage all students to follow good sustainability practices and to take responsibility for sustainability in their daily lives both on and off campus.
  • Further develop the Sustainability Guild so that it might continue building collaborations among on- and off-campus constituencies.
  • Identify and establish sustainability internships and externships through the Center for Career Professional Development.
  • Develop collaborative relationships with the sustainability efforts of the local institutions of higher education, schools, hospitals, Kalamazoo County, the City of Kalamazoo, and local business and civic groups.


Scholarship  plays  a  vital  role  in  promoting  sustainability  and  the  College especially values research that arises from the collaboration between faculty, students, and/or staff because it hones critical thinking skills, fosters creativity, and develops core knowledge within and between disciplines. Such knowledge, skills and values promote effective and timely responses to challenges associated with climate change. Students have already expressed a strong interest in sustainability issues by producing a number of SIPs on this subject. The following goals and strategies seek to enhance this element of learning and to deepen the College’s commitment to sustainability.


  • Facilitate and encourage collaborations between faculty and students to pursue sustainability-related research.
  • Create a campus culture that seeks to identify campus needs as well as provide the financial, personnel and material resources required to support research projects.


  • Support initiatives that use the campus, especially the Lillian Anderson Arboretum and Facilities Management, as a laboratory for sustainability experiments and research.
  • Support campus-based projects that foster collaboration between students, faculty and staff on sustainability research and projects.
  • Support independent student research relating to campus-based sustainability projects.
  • Support faculty scholarship and student SIPs that enhance education and research in sustainability.