College announces new comprehensive approach to sustainability


Every Ripon College student will directly engage with sustainability principles in a structured and meaningful way, thanks to a new campus-wide initiative targeting the curriculum, student life and administrative decision-making.

“Ripon seeks to create an environment in which all students learn, practice and apply sustainability principles, and graduates employ sustainability concepts in their postgraduate careers,” said Ed Wingenbach, vice president and dean of faculty. The new initiative will be supported in part by a $350,000 grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

Ripon’s top priority is to hire a sustainability director, who will guide the faculty, staff and students to institutionalize sustainability in the essential practices of the College.

The sustainability director will work with key campus stakeholders to coordinate the development of a Sustainability Strategic Plan, which will touch all aspects of Ripon College. This plan is intended both to better coordinate sustainability initiatives and to influence the decision-making culture of the College by making sustainability visible as a coherent, high-value goal.

The sustainability director will work with faculty to expand the presence of sustainability principles within the curriculum, including developing applied sustainability projects for the capstone seminar of the Catalyst curriculum, increasing the focus of sustainability in co-curricular activities and growing external student placements.

“We expect to see an increase in sustainability-oriented assignments within courses across the curriculum, as well as an increase in courses specifically designed around sustainability principles,” added Wingenbach. “Our plans include the development of many opportunities for students to address sustainability issues in an applied context, across the curriculum and the College.”

College administrators say the initiative will help validate the importance of the core concepts of sustainability to a liberal arts education. Through the new Center for Career and Professional Development, the College will continue to track graduate placement and include in that instrument the collection of data on the use of sustainability principles.

Wingenbach hopes the new focus will lead to some faculty members applying for sustainability seed grants, either as advisors to student groups pursuing these grants or to support their own sustainability projects.