Unity College Sustainability Profile (pt.1)

Last night, as part of the Lapping Lecture Series and UC’s Environmental Challenge course, I presented our Campus Sustainability Profile.  This profile served as our application to AASHE’s Campus Sustainability Leadership Award this past summer (which Furman University very deservedly won in our size category).

I’ll present the profile on the blog here in three parts, beginning with:

Education and Research

Unity College in Maine is organizing its institutional efforts according to President Mitchell Thomashow’s Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus. These elements are grouped under three categories, or “challenges,” that correspond with the AASHE Award criteria. The Learning challenge (or Education and Research) involves Curriculum, Interpretation, and Aesthetics.


  • The Environmental Stewardship Core Curriculum focuses every student on the theory and practice of sustainability through the following courses: The Unity Experience, The Environmental Citizen, Environmental Sustainability, and Environmental Challenge.
  • Unity offers environmental degree programs that fall under five new Academic Centers of Excellence: the Center for Biodiversity, the Center for Environmental Arts & Humanities, the Center for Environmental & Experiential Education, the Center for Natural Resource Management & Protection, and the Center for Sustainability & Global Change.
  • In 2008, we added two new sustainability degree programs to our already intensely hands-on, interdisciplinary offerings: a BS in Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability, and BS in Sustainable Design and Technology. The latter equips students to become sustainability and environmental compliance officers in government agencies, industry, nonprofits, and education institutions.


  • Completed in 2008, the Unity House is a LEED Platinum residence for the College president. Frequent tours of the Unity House offer campus community members and visitors an up-close look at sustainable design and performance (see Campus Operations). This net zero carbon home also hosts campus events and classes, and has become an icon of our sustainability outreach efforts.
  • Unity College is the proud steward of the “Jimmy Carter” solar panels – 32 solar thermal panels that once graced the roof of the White House. The College is preserving these 30 year-old panels as historic artifacts after using half of them to provide hot water to our cafeteria for twelve years. One panel on loan to Google was displayed as part of President Obama’s inauguration activities.
  • The College’s comprehensive master plan, Unity 2020, shapes all building and campus development projects based on sustainability values. This plan is prominently displayed throughout campus offices in an effort to promote our campus vision for a sustainable future.


  • Based at Unity College, Hawk and Handsaw: The Journal of Creative Sustainability publishes thought-provoking written and visual art that interprets and redefines notions of sustainability. The journal includes works from established and emerging artists, including Unity College students.
  • Unity annually hosts the Art of Stewardship and Orion’s Education for a Changing Climate conferences, utilizing the campus grounds as a canvas for creative visual and literary responses to environmental issues.

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