Campus Initiatives

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Sustainability and creation care at EMU

Sustainability and creation care are at the core of life at EMU, both in student groups like the Cycling Club or Earthkeepers and in academic studies of the social, economic and political aspects of environmental sustainability.

On-campus initiatives make immediate impact, from turning dining hall waste into compost, to campus gardens, beehives, meadows and an orchard, to RecycleMania competitions.

Campus gardens

The initial garden stocked the dining hall's salad bar during the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, and now the student organization Sustainable Food Initiative manages five campus gardens: Mt. Clinton Garden, Kitchen Garden by Northlawn, Dogwood Garden, East Side Garden near the arboretum and Gnagey Garden. Campus gardens provide fresh, organic produce and practical exercise in sustainability. 

Professors use the gardens for EMU’s Peace with Creation curriculum and studying sustainable agriculture, crop chemistry, and worldwide sustainability and development, and the dining hall hosts a "local harvest meal" each fall

The EMU dining hall

  • saves about 350,000 gallons of hot water per year by going tray-less
  • recycles all paper and recyclables
  • offers “greenware" containers instead of Styrofoam
  • uses recycled paper products from a local distributor


Student workers and volunteers transport 300-500 pounds of dining hall scraps several times a week across campus via bicycle to the compost piles, which are located behind the Suter Science Center and monitored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

This initiative reduces waste and supplies the campus gardens with rich compost.

Edible landscaping

Inspired by the film Food Inc. in 2011, student Alyshia Zimmerman teamed up with EMU grounds supervisor Will Hairston. With help from grants and the Earthkeepers club, they bought and transplanted 1,000 plants for landscaping and food around campus. Edible landscaping had already been a staple at EMU, but this push helped to diversify and add to the plants, which include:

  • Edible Landscapingasparagus hedges
  • apple, pear and persimmon trees
  • fig and grape vines
  • juneberry and raspberry bushes.

Here's a student-created map showing where to find the edible landscaping:

 Creation Care Council

To help EMU enact its theology of care for the earth with practical, everyday decisions, the Creation Care Council developed sustainability principles and coordinates concrete steps and long-term plans on campus – and is a visionary body for long-term sustainability planning. CCC Statement on Climate Change | ACUPCC – the climate neutrality commitment

Its membership represents various sectors of campus. The EMU president will appoint a vice president from the president’s cabinet, and SGA will appoint a student senator to serve as representative. The remaining members should consist of one staff person each from Facilities Management and Marketing and Communications, a student chosen by Earthkeepers who ideally is also involved with the Sustainable Food Initiative, three additional faculty appointed by the provost’s office representing a wide variety of academic departments, two additional staff members-at-large, and the EMU sustainability curriculum coordinator. An additional at-large member from among graduate students is optional.

Terms for members are two years except for appointed members of Cabinet and SGA and the sustainability curriculum coordinator, who is a permanent member of the committee.

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