Environmental Sustainability

What is Stetson University doing to help address issues related to climate change and the environment? How are we acting as responsible stewards?

The purpose of this site is to help answer those questions and compile the many academic and community-driven activities addressing those questions in one place. This website is meant to be an environmental web portal that provides information about (and connections to) all of the combined environmental efforts at Stetson University.

As most of us know, being responsible stewards of our environment is a core value at Stetson, and the university is one of the Charter Signatory members of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). In June 2007, then Stetson University President Doug Lee signed the ACUPCC, and since that time our goals have been codified in the Stetson Environmental Stewardship Plan that was endorsed and put into action by our Board of Trustees. That plan includes targets toward achieving our goal of being carbon neutral, action steps, periodic measurement and reporting of our results.

In addition, Stetson University recently adopted the Energy and Water Conservation Policy, requiring our campus communities to support efforts to reduce water and energy consumption by 18 percent.

Stetson has demonstrated a commitment to Green Building through new construction. Four buildings have been certified through Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) including the Lynn Business Center which was the first LEED-certified building in Florida. The three other LEED-certified buildings are Mary B. McMahan Hall, Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center, and the Rinker Environmental Learning Center. The Rinker Welcome Center was awarded the Green Globes Certification and was named Outstanding Sustainability Project in the state by the Florida Planning and Zoning Association in 2017. The Stetson Aquatic Center is currently under construction and under review for certification through the Green Globes program. The Aquatic Center received an ECHO grant from Volusia County to enhance sustainability, promote water reuse and develop a native Florida botanical garden.

These efforts have not gone unrecognized. In the spring of 2015, Stetson University was noted as a "Green College" in the “Princeton Review's Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition." The guide recognized Stetson for its commitment to environmental education, environmentally responsible purchasing, efficient use and conservation of resources, minimizing solid waste and hazardous materials, and promoting a green campus design that incorporates plants native to Florida.

"Stetson's Native Plant Policy is a great example of the proactive approach the university takes in addressing sustainability issues on campus," says the guide, noting that the move "cuts down on its use of fertilizers and pesticides, since indigenous plants require less maintenance as compared to traditional landscaping plants."

Stetson offers an in-depth Environmental Science and Studies curriculum. Students graduating from Stetson University with a BS degree in Environmental Science or a BA degree in Environmental Studies will work within solid ethical and scientific frameworks to make well-supported decisions to protect natural resources, develop innovative solutions for environmental problems, and exhibit bold leadership skills for environmental change. This page includes more information about the program overall, including courses and involved faculty and staff. As of Fall 2018, there is also a Sustainable Food Systems curriculum that can be used to obtain a Sustainable Food Systems minor. 

Stetson's College of Law includes the Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy, which serves as an interdisciplinary focal point for education, research and service activities related to global, regional and local biodiversity issues. The Institute hosts international speakers and conferences, and it coordinates courses, seminars and internships on a variety of topics, including wetland law and policy, environmental law, natural resources and international environmental law. At this site, you can also find related news, courses, service opportunities, and information about the Foreman Biodiversity Lecture Series.

The Water Stewardship page includes information about Stetson's environmental sustainability in relation to water resources. The Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience plays a major role in this aspect of Stetson's environmental efforts. It focuses on water and environmental research in order to offer policy options to protect natural resources in Central Florida and beyond. The institute also channels student and faculty research across all university colleges - in partnership with other institutions and community stakeholders. This page includes more information about the institute, related activities, events and research, as well as details about the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center and the Sustainable Farming Fund

This page displays the titles and descriptions for each environmental club on the Stetson campus, as well as contact information and social media links. The list of clubs includes the Stetson Environmental Club, Hatter Harvest, the Food Recovery Network, SOAR, Surf Club, SONAR, OCEAN, Hatters Down Under, and the Beekeeping Society. 

Here you will find an archive of Stetson Today articles about University environmental efforts. An environmental newsletter is also sent out approximately every month to the Stetson community by email, summarizing upcoming environmental events as well as current topics discussed by the Stetson Environmental Working Group (composed of faculty and staff members as well student representatives for SGA, leaders of environmental clubs, and the Environmental Sustainability Fellows).

At this page, you will find environmentally-focused events that are listed on the Stetson University events calendar with the tag "environmentalism." If you wish to have your event posted here, make sure to type the tag line "environmentalism" when creating the event and it will automatically be put on this website. 

The Environmental  Sustainability Fellows work with a faculty mentor to develop a more cognizant and purposeful Stetson community focused on social, economic and environmental practices. They foster a culture of environmentalism through education and direct involvement with our campus and the greater community. This page displays the projects they have been working on as well as the students themselves.

The Environmental Sustainability Fellowship is open to high school students for the upcoming school year, and students from all majors and cultural backgrounds are welcome to apply. 

As one of their responsibilities, the Fellows help share information about campus and community environmental initiatives on the Sustain Stetson Facebook and Instagram.

The Gillespie Museum has been a center for earth and environmental science education on campus and in the community for six decades. It houses a historic mineral collection, with nearly a thousand of its 15,000 specimens on display in changing exhibits. Updates and information are also posted on Facebook. The Gillespie website includes general information as well as exhibits, events, Science Cafes, the Seed Library, the Pollinator Project and the Volusia Sandhill Ecosystem

Stetson Dining, in partnership with Chartwells, has many ongoing sustainable initiatives on campus, such as providing local food sourced within 150 miles and working with the Food Recovery Network club to send good food to nearby shelters instead of the landfill. There is also a Compass Seafood Policy to provide sustainably-sourced seafood and a Food Forum group to review current processes, determine goals for the upcoming years, and discuss barriers in order to form action plans. More information and details of upcoming events, such as the monthly on-campus local produce market, can be found on Stetson Dining's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

The Public Health and Community Needs Assessment conducted by Stetson University and the Department of Health in 2016 found that Spring Hill residents were most concerned about their lack of access to fresh produce and many were dissatisfied by the lack of a community garden. Following this survey, Stetson began working with many different residents and agencies in the area to gather funding and support for a community garden in Spring Hill. The current garden plan is a collaboration between the Greater Union Life Center, the Stetson Center for Community Engagement, the University of Florida Agricultural Extension, the USDA, and the City of DeLand. More information about how to get involved and details of upcoming events can be found on the Spring Hill Community Garden Facebook page. 

Construction and major renovations have taken place in Stetson University's DeLand Campus as the university moved forward with its Comprehensive Campus Plan - adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2014. The plan has and continues to improve the campus experience for current and future students, parents, alumni and visitors to the university. Environmental considerations have been taken into account throughout the building process.

One of the most notable environmental considerations during construction was the addition of 231 solar panels on the roof of the renovated Carlton Union Building which can generate an estimated annual value of 143 MWh of clean energy. The approximately $170,000 solar project marks the culmination of an ambitious effort by students, called Stetson’s Revolving Green Fund. In terms of funding, students and university administrators effectively came together. The Revolving Green Fund paid $60,000. The Student Government Association and the university each paid $30,000, with the remainder of the funding coming from a university loan to be repaid by the metered cost avoidance (estimated at almost $10,000 a year). After the loan is repaid, those cost-avoidance dollars will be deposited back into the green fund.

Almost every senior at Stetson has to complete a senior research project. This page includes a description of what a senior research project is and gives a list of completed projects from 2016-2018 that relate to the fields of Environmental Science and Studies.