Visiting expert to offer insights into creating culture of sustainability

Contact: Jeff Spoelstra

KALAMAZOO—Sustainability expert Dr. Mitchell Thomashow will share his framework for creating a culture of sustainability during a trio of events being held on the campus of Western Michigan University Thursday and Friday, Feb. 7-8.

Dr. Mitchell Thomashow

Meet and greet for WMU students Thursday, Feb. 7—Thomashow will host a free, informal meet and greet for WMU students in the Office for Sustainability, located at the corner of West Michigan Avenue and South Howard Street, between 2 and 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7.

Public keynote address Thursday, Feb. 7—Thomashow will deliver a public keynote address titled "The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Culture and Campus," at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, in Room 1910 of Sangren Hall. During his free talk, Thomashow will describe how he led Unity College in Maine through a transformation to become nationally recognized for its focus on sustainability. Guests should park in WMU parking lot number 40 or 41, located north of the building.

Workshop for WMU faculty and administrators Friday, Feb. 8—From 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 8, Thomashow will conduct a topic-focused workshop designed for up to 40 WMU faculty and administrators interested in integrating sustainability across disciplines. The workshop will be held in the Office for Sustainability, at West Michigan and Howard, and will help launch a new Sustainability Across Research and Teaching Faculty Learning Community. Registration is required, and seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit for details.

Event organizers say they hope to catalyze ongoing efforts at WMU to build a campus culture of sustainability. Supporting University partners include the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Human Development, College of Fine Arts, College of Aviation, College of Health and Human Services, Haworth College of Business, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Lee Honors College, Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Office for Sustainability.

Dr. Harold Glasser, executive director for campus sustainability, says, "We are thrilled to see sustainability initiatives spreading rapidly across operational units and academic disciplines. Dr. Thomashow is uniquely qualified to help WMU tie all of these efforts together and build a collaborative, Universitywide approach for moving forward in a way that truly supports WMU's efforts to create a culture of sustainability."

Mitchell Thomashow

While president of Unity College in Maine from 2006 to 2011, Thomashow helped integrate elements of ecology, sustainability, natural history, wellness, participatory governance and community service into college and community life. He emphasizes "frugal sustainability," explaining that sustainability is about vision, desire, perseverance and commitment—not money. He argues that sustainability is a response to a planetary emergency.

Thomashow is the director of the Presidential Fellows Program at Second Nature, an organization that seeks to create a sustainable society by transforming higher education. He is the author of two influential books, "Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist" and "Bringing the Biosphere Home." His forthcoming book, "The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus," will be published in 2013. Visit for Thomashow's full biographical sketch.

WMU's Office for Sustainability

The mission of the Office for Sustainability is to guide and assist the WMU community in fulfilling and growing its sustainability commitments. Through building a diverse and flourishing learning community around sustainability, it will continually explore and develop new opportunities to create a culture of sustainability and improve the quality of life for all.

For more information, visit or contact WMU's Office for Sustainability at