The UWC mission emphasizes values that promote “a sustainable future” and challenge students to think about stewardship of the earth and our natural resources. These activities, clubs, and service opportunities fall into three broad categories:
- The Agroecology Research Center where students work alongside faculty to grow food for our Dining Hall.
- The personal sustainability required of individuals to support healthy lifestyles and healthy communities.
- The work done by students as part of our campus service program engaged in activities to support our school.
The UWC mission addresses issues of sustainability. This is how we “do sustainability” at UWC-USA.
Sustainability at UWC-USA also means that students develop personal sustainability by taking care of themselves and others. Students play squash in the fieldhouse, participate in workshops designed to improve physical wellness, and go for hikes in the mountains.
The objective of personal sustainability at UWC includes not only exercise and activity for students while on campus, but as a catalyst for living a healthy lifestyle going forward. There are many activities to choose from ranging from soccer to dance to meditation and mindfulness. At UWC, we take “Keeping students healthy in mind and body” seriously.
The UWC-USA Agroecology Research Station is located on 20 acres of riparian land near Sebastian Canyon adjoining the UWC-USA campus. The property was purchased by the Board of Trustees in 2013 and quickly became an experiential learning center. “Growing food applies the concepts of biology, physics, and chemistry,” says Ben Gillock, who manages the ARC and teaches environmental systems and societies. “It raises interesting and difficult questions about ecology, economics, and sustainability. It also helps students develop a healthy respect for the labor and skill that goes into raising the food that they eat.”
The ARC aims to achieve three goals:
- Train students and community members in the skills and techniques needed to practice sustainable agriculture in an arid environment.
- Provide a place for practical, hands-on work where students can learn new skills and discover meaningful applications of their classroom learning in math, economics, and the sciences.
- Stimulate innovation by challenging students to think about new and different ways to approach problems such as pest management, habitat conservation, and waste management.
Students at UWC-USA practice personal sustainability by supporting the operation of the school through community service on campus. All first-year students participate in a wide variety of service opportunities — from clearing mountain bike trails, to harvesting tomatoes at the Agroecology Research Center, or supporting our Wilderness program — so they can understand the work necessary to support a school. Second-year students choose a specific service area to pursue, developing greater skill and expertise with the guidance of faculty and staff. Campus service opportunities at UWC-USA can include
- Helping to prepare meals in our kitchen
- Creating and maintaining mountain bike trails
- Assisting with erosion control projects
- Helping with the school’s marketing and social media efforts
- Maintaining the grounds
- Operating our campus recycling program
- Assisting in the library and the campus archives
- Helping to enhance fire protection by thinning out trees around campus while providing a source of firewood for our employees
Being a part of a campus service project give students a chance to give back to a community which has provided so much for them. In addition, they engage with the daily operation of the school, not just to assist others, but also to appreciate their new home and understand the value of hard work.