Sustainability at Willamette University

At Willamette, we take to heart our motto, “Not unto ourselves alone are we born,” as we seek to envision the future of humankind as a sustainable enterprise – not only the natural world that sustains life, but also the communities and economies that connect us to one another. Considered in this more ecumenical light, our interdependence on each other for survival is brought into sharp relief.

Across all schools and in our co-curricular offerings, we seek to foster meaningful educational experiences that address the defining challenges of the 21st century, including sustainability, which Willamette defines through the “Four E’s”:

  • Education (teaching ecological literacy)
  • Environment (creating a smaller ecologic footprint)
  • Equity (social justice)
  • Economics (sustainability principles for campus operations)

As we move into the future, sustainability continues to serve as a focal point beyond our efforts to ‘live our motto,’ in the service of our city, state, and world, and our mission to prepare graduates to pursue lives of achievement, contribution and meaning. Sustainability is also integral to the university’s strategic objectives as we seek, in a global context, authentic engagement with our immediate surroundings, knowing that the choices we make here and now could have current or future implications for others, both nearby and on the other side of the planet.

During the 2013-14 academic year sustainability leadership at Willamette underwent a restructuring. Since 2004 a wide range of academic, co-curricular, and operational initiatives were implemented under the former Campus Sustainability Council and academic Center for Sustainable Communities. These structures, along with oversight of Zena Forest & Farm were reorganized into a single Sustainability Institute under an Executive Committee and supported by a campus-wide Advisory Board.

In addition, students established the new Green Initiative Fund program, which will provide financial support to a wide range of initiatives that advance environmental, social, and economic sustainability on campus and in the community.