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Creation Care Initiatives at Indiana Faith-Based Schools

Notre Dame Golden Dome. Photo: Steven Elk

If you’re looking for a university that pairs faith with sustainability, you’re bound to find a great match for your interests at one of the 27 religiously affiliated colleges in the State of Indiana.

From installing roof greenscapes to electric car charging stations, these universities are working hard to be good stewards of our natural resources. For those students who are ready to make a career out of creation care, Indiana is home to the programs that can make it happen.

Unique Features of Creation Care Majors and Minors

The overwhelming majority (23 of the 27) of Christian-affiliated schools in Indiana offer a major or minor in environmental studies, sustainability, or biology.

Saint Mary’s College offers four fascinating concentrations in its Environmental Studies major: Environmental STEM; Global Environmental Policy; Nature, Culture, and Arts; and Spirituality, Justice, and Ethics. 

Students at the University of Notre Dame can choose to major in Environmental Engineering, which provides students with the opportunity to literally shape the environment with the background of how engineering connects with the earth’s resources. Indiana Wesleyan offers a bachelor’s in Design for Social Impact, which equips students to be an agent of change, whether through private, civic, or community partnerships.

Five schools offer a major in Sustainability or Sustainable Development, including Taylor University, University of Indianapolis, Earlham College, Grace College and Theological Seminary (offering a Sustainable Agriculture major), and Goshen College, which offers three different majors in sustainability—Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainability Management, and Sustainability Studies—and a graduate program in Environmental Education.

In addition to its major in Environmental Sustainability, Earlham provides students with many options to minor in unique subject areas, including Equestrian Management; Sustainable Agriculture; Art, Nature, and Conservation; Anthrozoology; Outdoor Education; and Sustainability and Management.

For students who are interested in expanding their horizons beyond this planet, University of Indianapolis offers a major in Earth-Space Science.

Individuals who want to “grow” their knowledge of farming and agriculture can find opportunities at Huntington University, where students can major in Agribusiness, Animal Science, or Crop Science and Agronomy. Grace College and Theological Seminary also offers an Agricultural Business Major. Ancilla College offers a major in Agriculture: Animal Science, an associate’s degree in Agriculture: Crop Science, and a Veterinary Nursing program. 

Additional degree programs in the animal sciences are offered at Saint Mary of the Woods College, which includes a major in Equine Studies and minors in Equine Assisted Therapy or Equine Science, and University of Saint Francis Fort Wayne, which provides a Pre-Veterinary bachelor’s pathway. 

On-Campus Sustainability Clubs and Organizations

Indiana schools offer a wide variety of clubs and organizations for students who are passionate about sustainability and the well-being of our earth and its inhabitants. One-third of schools have a Biology Club on campus, and almost half of Christian affiliated schools have some form of Sustainability Club or Green Initiative Club.

Earlham and the University of Notre Dame both have a chapter of Net Impact, a global network of change makers who use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest problems. 

Anderson, Bethel, Taylor, and Valparaiso have chapters of Enactus, an international organization that seeks to serve local communities through entrepreneurial activity. 

The University of Notre Dame also features an Environmental Law Society, BeeND (a beekeeping organization) and GreeND, which strives to foster leadership and provide a means of communication and collaboration among the various environmentally-related student groups on campus.

If these unique organizations don’t meet your needs, other clubs you can expect to find at various schools in Indiana include bike co-ops, outdoor adventure clubs, equine, dog, and animal protection clubs, food waste and intentional eating clubs, food pantries, farm and ag clubs, geology clubs, horticulture clubs, and more. Nearly every one of the Christian-affiliated universities reviewed offer some kind of club for the nature loving, creation preserving, sustainability-minded student.

Institutional Green Initiatives 

Nearly all of the 27 Christian universities in Indiana have some kind of sustainable endeavor on campus, and about half of the colleges reviewed have sustainability initiatives baked into  strategic plans for the future. These efforts include campus-wide recycling programs, clean energy initiatives, farm and community gardens, bike and car sharing, nature and wilderness preserves, climate and environmental awareness, and the greenification of dining halls.

Speaking of food, several Indiana schools partner with Chartwells, an organization committed to reinventing the on-campus dining experience. Their motto, “Eat Green, Build Green, Run Green, Return Green,” challenges the norms at 300 campuses around the country, including Huntington University, University of Evansville, and Anderson University.

Six of the schools identified have LEED Recognized buildings: University of Notre Dame, Earlham College, Manchester University, Goshen College, and DePauw University, and five schools in the state have dedicated centers for sustainability research and application: DePauw, Notre Dame, University of Evansville, Earlham, and Goshen.

The Indiana Green Campus Network

Many of Indiana’s institutions of higher learning have joined a network of schools committed to sustainability and energy conservation efforts. Built on the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) Green Campus Program in California, the Indiana Green Campus Network (IGCN) consists of 28 partner schools in Indiana, 16 of which are religiously-affiliated schools. The IGCN program’s objectives are to save energy, infuse energy efficiency into the academic curriculum, increase campus awareness of energy efficiency through outreach, and develop a sustainability-focused workforce.

Faith-based partner schools in the IGCN are: Ancilla, Anderson, Bethel, Calumet College of St. Joseph, DePauw, Earlham, Franklin, Goshen, Hanover, Huntington, Indiana Wesleyan, Manchester, Marian, Notre Dame, St. Mary of the Woods, and Taylor.

If the Crossroads of America is your destination for college, and an institutional commitment to sustainability is a prominent factor in your collegiate decision-making process, then you can’t go wrong by picking one of these Christian affiliated universities!

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