In response to increasingly worrying signs of climate change and persistent urging by scientists to decrease carbon emissions and increase focus on environmental conservation and sustainability, numerous members of Bellarmine’s faculty, staff, and student body have been working hard to combat this worldwide issue.
At the administrative level, Bellarmine is hard at work to decrease food and plastic waste and shrink its carbon footprint. On-campus efforts in the name of a greener tomorrow include increased recycling initiatives and changes to infrastructure such as the use of rainwater-reclamation facilities to decrease water waste and the installation of energy-efficient H-VAC machines into student residence halls.
One of the more significant and innovative changes to Bellarmine’s policies regarding environmental conservation and sustainability is the formation of a Campus Sustainability Committee. This program is, according to Bellarmine’s Environmental Studies Department Chair Dr. Martha Carlson Mazur, designed for Bellarmine’s faculty, staff and students to “come together to figure out what we can do to support sustainability on campus.”
For students hoping to get involved with extracurricular conservation and sustainability efforts on campus, opportunities are not in short supply.
Students interested in forestry and conservation would do well to research Bellarmine’s partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, an organization dedicated to restoring forestry and educating college students on the importance of environmental conservation and the damages caused by deforestation. This partnership requires Bellarmine to:
- Establish a campus tree-care plan.
- Organize a campus tree committee.
- Allot funds for an on-campus tree care plan.
- Annually observe Arbor Day.
- Conduct at least one service-learning project engaging the student body in conservation efforts.
This partnership between Bellarmine and the Arbor Day Foundation provides numerous meaningful and unique opportunities for students to get involved with conservation and sustainability efforts.
Students who are passionate about botany and nature would do well to look into Bellarmine’s Beekeeper Club, a Resident Student Organization which meets bi-weekly at Bellarmine’s pollinator garden (an on-campus garden designed to encourage growth of pollinator species) to educate Knights on the importance of butterflies, bees and other pollinator species.
If a student has no particular area of interest and simply wants to get involved with environmental science and conservation, the Green Knights are a campus volunteer group dedicated to helping the environment through local volunteer service activities and educational initiatives.
“Students are hungry for opportunity,” said Dr. Michele Abee, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Bellarmine University, “They just need to be given a chance.”
If time and scheduling does not allow for extracurricular activities or volunteer service projects, environmental activists on-campus want Bellarmine students to know that they can still make a difference through individual action. Whether through minimizing plastic waste by picking up food from UDH in reusable tupperware dishes and investing in a reusable water bottle, or by voting for political representatives dedicated to combating climate change, there are no meaningless efforts in the fight for mother earth.
“Advocate for what you believe,” said Rhianna P. Clemons, Student Environmental Chair in Bellarmine’s Student Government Association, “Share the post about what the clubs are doing and maybe inspire someone to go.”
Remarking on Bellarmine Knights’ increased dedication to fighting climate change and changing Bellarmine’s campus for the better, Clemons said: “I’m very inspired and I have a lot of faith that it will continue after I leave.”