Unity College First in the Nation to Divest
On November 5, the Unity College Board of Trustees unanimously voted to divest the College endowment from fossil fuels, emphasizing the College’s commitment to sustainability. In conjunction with the 350.org program of divestment, Unity College is now the first in the nation to take this stand. On November 13, President Mulkey was featured on the stage with Bill McKibben at the State Theater in Portland as part of the Do the Math tour. The result is a growing national movement where at most recent count 100 American colleges and universities were exploring the possibility of divesting from investments in fossil fuels. At many of those institutions of higher learning it is the students who are driving the issue of divestment.
The Unity College Greenhouse
The 1,008 square foot, heated greenhouse was built on the campus in 2012 in coordination with Veggies For All, a local organization that works to fight hunger with fresh, local food. The greenhouse offers students a learning laboratory, said Doug Fox, director of the Center for Sustainability and Global Change. “This not only increases opportunities in the classroom, but also strengthens our connection to community food efforts,” he said. Students learn to start seeds and cuttings, transplant seedlings, and understanding season extension for vegetable crops. Early in spring 2013, vegetable seedling production will be in full swing with the assistance of student workers, as the College and Veggies For All embark on another growing season together.
Library Solar Project
Unity College partnered with ReVision Energy, a local full service renewable energy contracting company, to bring a significant solar energy project to campus in September 2012. The 37.44 kW, 144-panel solar photovoltaic array is mounted on the Dorothy Webb Quimby Library and Thomashow Learning Labs roofs and is expected to produce about 45,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually– more than 80 percent of the library’s previous average annual demand. This installation is an important visible addition to our diverse energy portfolio which includes an existing 5.4-kW solar array at the Unity House. This installation is an important additional step to reaching our climate emission reduction goals and adds another strong component to our sustainability education for all of our students and the Unity community.
The GIS/Media Lab
Unity College installed a state of the art Geographic Information Systems (GIS)/multi-media lab on campus in July 2012. The technology tools are among the best and most advanced commercially available and include 30 HP Z1 workstations, six Apple iMac desktops, two Epson BrightLink 485wi interactive projectors, and an HP Z6200 large-format high-quality photo printer. Each machine is loaded with a collection of software packages including Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection and ESRI ArcGIS software. The impact of the multi-media classroom and training lab is expected to be immediate and far-reaching, touching virtually every part of the curriculum, giving Unity the tools to pursue a forward-leaning approach that reflects its comprehensive focus on sustainability science and communications.
Animal Lab and Barn
Able to house a variety of live species, the animal lab was running for the fall 2012 semester. The purpose of the lab is to augment the Captive Wildlife Care and Education (CWCE) department with additional applied learning opportunities. “We wanted to have animals that could be used in training students,” explained Cheryl Frederick, assistant professor of CWCE. The lab has been a hands-on endeavor for Fredrick. Animals in the lab and barn will be used in a number of our classes where animal training, animal health observations, live animal handling, enrichment programs design, and behavioral observations are emphasized. All lab animals have been adopted from a rescue or rehabilitation facility or donated to the program, said Fredrick. Species in the lab include mammals such as mice, ferrets, and hedgehogs; reptiles such as a ball python, and two red-eared slider turtles; invertebrates; and amphibians. The animal barn, newly renovated, will be home to pasture fiber goats and chickens during the spring 2013.
Unity’s Center of Natural Resource Management and Protection is partnering with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Research Division to conduct research on the expanding black bear population in Maine during the spring 2013 semester. Students will participate in a multifaceted project providing the opportunity to analyze real-life data, participate in an important hands-on experience field study focused on sustainability science, and witness movement patterns of live bears in real time. Students in the Center for Biodiversity will conduct DNA analyses of bear hair samples. Students from the Center of Environmental Arts and Humanities will coordinate public outreach and communication with landowners and Center of Experiential Education students will develop education components as they document the movement of black bears in response to effects of climate change on their food sources and habitat.