Sustainable Living Education at Unity College
Say the words, “renewable energy” or “sustainable living” to the average person on the street, and you are liable to get a furrowed brow, and a cobbled together response about the environment and solar energy. Most people have a vague idea of what those terms mean, but very little understanding of how those terms can apply to their daily lives. A growing number of people, however, are beginning to recognize the importance of actively seeking out forms of renewable energy and ways to lower humanity’s impact on the Earth. A number of these people are young men and women in their late teens and early 20s, who, unlike generations before them, recognize that if they do not care for the planet, it might not be able to sustain the lives of their future grandchildren. This generation of young environmentalists are actively seeking ways to understand and positively alter the world around them. Enter Unity College, a small liberal arts college in Unity, Maine that is wholly dedicated to the study and practice of sustainable living.
Unity College was founded in 1965, and is tucked away in a small community surrounded by a lake, lots of trees, and not much else. The 500 students and 60 staff members of Unity College like this relative isolation, as they are free to experiment, innovate, and create on the 225 acres of farmland that make up the campus. The school is invested in sustainable living and environmentally sound practices from the ground-up, utilizing low-impact housing, solar energy, growing their own food, and helping all students retrofit their cars to run on grease from the dining hall, among other initiatives. The college recently opened its first Passive House dorm facility and they are committed to going carbon neutral as well. Rather than a standard orientation experience, relaxing in catnapper recliners in the lounge and doing the occasional “community building” activity, first year students spend a week in the woods together, hiking, camping, and discussing environmental issues as they apply to the region where they will be spending their next few years. They perform trail maintenance, do research, and began to formulate a more concrete idea of the direction they hope to take their studies while at the school.
The academic program is wide-ranging, and more majors are being offered each year. There are currently 22 majors at the school, along with study abroad, Outward Bound, and seasonal law enforcement options for those seeking a career in park ranger service. The school also offers certifications in a number of wilderness preparedness and survival skills. Courses of study at Unity include, Wildlife; Wildlife Biology; Wildlife Conversation; Adventure Education Leadership; Adventure Therapy; Parks, Recreation, and Ecotourism; Sustainable Design and Technology; Teaching and Learning; Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability; Aquaculture and Fisheries; Forestry; Landscape Horticulture; Marine Biology; Captive Wildlife Care and Education; Conservative Law Enforcement; Ecology; Environmental Writing; Environmental Science; Environmental Policy and Law; Environmental Education; Environmental Biology; Environmental Analysis; and Ecology.
The need for people versed in environmentally conscious practices is growing, and consequently,Unity College alumni have gone on to quite successful careers in a number of environmentally related fields, including serving as resident biologists, resource analysts, educational and environmental directors, forestry technicians, and a host of other positions as related to sustainable living. One of the few colleges of this type in the world, Unity College is devoted to creating a generation of men and women who consider the environment as important as turning a profit.