Sustainability: a single word that contains so many of my hopes for the future within all of its ambiguity. Every day, my definition changes. Most importantly, I think that sustainability is an inclusive word that involves everyone on this planet living in an environmentally, equitably, economically responsible way that leaves Earth more beautiful than we found it.
My sustainability experience at the University of Michigan revolves around integrating sustainability as part of campus culture. I joined the board of the Sustainable Living Experience during my freshman year to make this idea of an inclusive sustainability movement more visible on campus.
The Sustainable Living Experience is not just a small group of people interested in environmental issues, living in a dorm together. It is an important step that students are taking to make sustainability and environmental justice more visible on campus. We want to show that sustainability matters for our collective future, and that our students across all academic disciplines care about being leaders in a more sustainable future.
Our ultimate goal with this theme community is to give sustainable living a presence that will translate to change in the broader campus culture.
SLE revolves around a few key components:
● Sustainable Community
● Experiential Learning
● Engaged Citizenship
● Environmental Justice
As a Resident Adviser for SLE in its inaugural year, I have the privilege of actually being a part of a community that lives out these broad goals.
As a staff member, I have certain goals for the program, but the best part of my job is seeing new ideas of what SLE could be as students shape our quickly evolving program according to their own innovative ideas of what sustainability can mean. Stay tuned for new ideas and opportunities coming from the community at SLE. And we invite you to join us in making real change on campus.
Elizabeth Ladwig is a junior studying Program in the Environment and Organizational Studies. She was a Residential Adviser for the Sustainable Living Experience in its inaugural year and will continue as an RA with the program at Oxford next year.