To Renew The Face Of The Earth - YDS Sustainability

YDS Earth Day Service

Members of environmental organizations, including FERNS, the Divinity Farm, Sustainability Committee, and the Yale Forum on

                    Religion and Ecology, gathered on the quad after leading a special chapel service to mark Earth Day. 

Yale Divinity School, working hand-in-hand with the latest Yale Sustainability Strategic Plan, is bringing forth a new vision for a greener future.  Recognizing that our duty to the planet does not end with our time on it, we are both building on the foundations laid before us and blazing a new trail to create an environment where care for each other and care for the earth are inseparable.

Several initiatives and campus groups, such as Faith, Ecology, Religion, Nature, Spirituality (FERNS), the Divinity Farm, the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, the Sustainability Committee, and many others, are part of the ever-rising tide of ecological stewardship at Yale.

Jared Gilbert, MDiv ’12, in this month's Notes from the Quad, has written a great article that you can read below to learn all about the many exciting ways YDS is dedicated to a sustainable and renewable future.  Thanks Jared!

Yale Divinity School Announces Plan For A Sustainable Campus

by Jared A. Gilbert, M.Div '12

New Haven, CT – Yale Divinity School will implement a new three-year action plan to establish an enduring commitment to ecological health, human wellness, and economic viability through infrastructure upgrades, curriculum changes, and sustainability education. 

The YDS Sustainability Action Plan, which has been approved by students, faculty, and the School’s administration, builds on several successful sustainability measures implemented on the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle since 2006. These include reducing waste through robust recycling and composting capacity, and reusable dishware; energy savings in residential buildings through installation of modlets and conservation incentives; a photovoltaic installation; mechanical upgrades; establishing “Nourish New Haven,” a conference on sustainable food systems; landscape improvements; and reducing energy consumption through automated lighting and awareness campaigns.

Dean Gregory E. Sterling has made sustainability a core priority. “One of the greatest challenges facing us is our environment. Paul's statement that all of creation "has been groaning in labor pains" has never been more keenly felt (Rom 8:22),” writes Sterling. “Our ethical stance towards life and intergenerational ethics require that we make serious efforts to make our world sustainable. Our sustainability plan is only a step, but it is an important one.” 

To ensure success, these areas will be overseen by 3 working groups comprised of student, faculty and staff representatives, with responsibility for implementation in six focus areas:

  • Institutional Commitment: Establish sustainable resource management practices and educational resources about sustainable living at YDS.
  • Curriculum: Support sustainability literacy through coursework and special programs, and foster connections between the classroom and community.
  • 2014 Nourish New Haven Conference, in partnership with wider Yale and New Haven communities.
  • Seeing Outcomes: Establish clear metrics for measuring success and share outcomes of sustainability reduction goals.
  • Community Commitment and Culture: Create a voluntary sustainability pledge; coordinate partnerships between institutional partners, and student organizations.
  • Built Environment: Support school efforts to upgrade the Refectory and student housing; add bike racks; increase composting and recycling capacity. 

“What excites me is the plan's collaborative approach to implementing these changes through ongoing teamwork,” said James Jenkins ’15 M.Div., student sustainability coordinator. "Ecological concerns tie into many students' deep commitments to social justice, and this plan supports more student, faculty, and staff partnerships for addressing environmental concerns in our community.”

The Divinity School plan has been developed in concert with the Yale 2013-2016 Sustainability Strategic Plan, which contains 26 ambitious goals addressing five categories: energy and greenhouse gas emissions, natural and built environment, food and well-being, and sustainability leadership and capacity building.