Who We Are

To live and work sustainably means to perpetuate the health and welfare of people, economies, and the environment. Sustainability is about ensuring that all people - today and into the future - can live in healthy communities and participate in productive local economies without sacrificing environmental integrity. It’s a simple yet powerful concept that ties together human happiness and well-being with the quality and health of environmental systems. Thus, sustainability issues incorporate such wide-ranging topics as biodiversity loss, climate change, social justice, and more.

West Chester University seeks to be a leader in local, regional, and global sustainability efforts. This website documents the university’s efforts in sustainability and provides numerous resources  for individuals, organizations, and communities.

 Join us as we carry out the single most critical task of the 21st century!


News and Upcoming Events

Welcome WeCU Students to West Chester University!

Thanks for visiting our homepage!  Here's some helpful directions for navigating the Office of Sustainability site.

To subscribe to our weekly email bulletin, click the green "Subscribe to our Email Bulletin!" button at the top right of the page.  You'll also see links to the current issue and to browse our archive in the same corner.

If you're reading this you've already located yourself at our "News and Upcoming Events" section.  Scroll down to find what events are approaching and keep checking back as more will be added the closer we get to Earth Day, April 22nd!

To learn more about and get connected to the Sustainability Council and the many student led organizations with connections to sustainability, navigate to our "Get Involved" page.

To look into our Sustainability Peer Educator Program, click on "The Sustainability Peer Educators (SPE's)" box above.

For information on WCU's Gordon Natural Area, click on the "Gordon Natural Area" box above to navigate to their homepage.

For information on WCU's  four Organic Campus Gardens, click on the "On Campus Gardens" box above and proceed to their homepage.

Looking for information on courses and programs in sustainability?  Follow the "Education" link at the top of our page.

Finally, be sure to "Connect with Us" on social media, just above and under the bulletin section.

If you have any questions please feel free to email us at

 Local Gardening and Living Landscapes: Transitioning to Productive Futures

As part of a number of exciting events in celebration of Earth Day during the month of April, you're invited to join host Bradley Flamm, Director of WCU's Office of Sustainability, the West Chester Green Team, and members of the Chester County Environment Alliance, for a virtual panel discussion on sustainable gardening and landscapes Wednesday evening, April 7th at 7pmLocal Gardening and Living Landscapes: Transitioning to Productive Futures, brings together knowledgeable panelists to speak on community gardening and its benefits, home gardening from a buy nothing approach, transitioning lawns to pollinator friendly gardens, and WCU's organic campus gardens.  Please be sure to register by using the link below, and join us for this evening of growing inspiration.



joan welch photo

Joan M. Welch, Ph.D., is a Professor of Geography & Planning at West Chester University with 20 years of sustainable agriculture teaching and gardening experience. In conjunction with a Science, Technology and Environmental Systems course, she established the first organic garden on campus at West Chester University in 2001. As a human-environment geographer and landscape ecologist, she incorporates sustainability into all her courses including Geography of Agriculture Food and Sustainability, Environmental Conservation and Sustainability, and Environmental Crises. She established the current north campus garden alongside the Native Plant Outdoor Classroom in 2010 as part of an undergraduate course. Since then, Dr. Welch has supervised Sustainability Council gardens and interns. With students in her sustainability courses, she established two permaculture plots: a native Eastern Deciduous Food Forest plot, and a fruit tree plot. At the behest and with the support of President Christopher and Professor Susan Fiorentino, Dr. Welch and students along with the Facilities Department established an organic garden in 2017 in the back yard of Tanglewood, the President's residence. These gardens serve as a resource for students, staff, faculty and the community to participate in and learn about all aspects of organic regenerative agriculture and sustainable food systems.


Headshot of panelist Ashlie Delshad

Dr. Delshad is a member of WCU's Political Science Department where she teaches courses on environmental policy, social inequality, and food politics. In 2015 she helped start the WCU South Campus Garden and has continued to play an instrumental role in the expansion and maintenance of the garden. Dr. Delshad also forged a relationship between the university gardens and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's (PHS) City Harvest Program; she takes students to volunteer with PHS’s urban gardening efforts each spring and in return the South Campus Garden receives plants and organic gardening supplies as a City Harvest member site. Dr. Delshad also works closely with the WCU resource pantry. She established weekly donations from the garden to the pantry in 2017 and helps with pantry dinners designed to familiarize students with how to use the garden produce. Finally, Dr. Delshad conducts research on the social, economic, health, and environmental benefits of community gardens across the United States.

Headshot of panelist Jim Hines

Jim Hines is a humble, self proclaimed "Wanna-be farmer" home gardener of 20+ yrs and member of the West Chester Community. He uses a mix of both Permaculture and no dig methods in his at home garden of 10 beds, 300 sq ft of growing space. In his own words, this down to earth home gardener Jim explains he's "no expert. Having killed thousands of plants, every year is a learning experience."

Headshot of panelist Sallie Jones

Sallie Jones was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. She earned a B.A. in Earth Science from Denison University and an M.S . in Geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduate school, she married and moved to Texas, where she worked as an exploration geologist. Volunteering at the Houston Arboretum, Sallie became interested in native plants and landscaping the home garden. She and her family moved a number of times, and each location provided an opportunity to experiment with new plants. When the Jones family moved to Chester County in the early 1990s, Sallie began to meet people who were taking classes in botany and ornamental horticulture at Longwood Gardens. After her first class at Longwood, she was hooked and eventually earned a Certificate of Merit in Ornamental Horticulture, series I and II, and in Landscape Design. Sallie gardens for the pleasure of trying new plants, creating pleasing arrangements of color and texture, and attracting and supporting wildlife.

Headshot of panelist Liz Schultz

Elizabeth Schultz is a fourth year WCU undergraduate student majoring in Political Science-International Relations with minors in Spanish and Law, Politics, & Society. She has worked with the university gardens since 2017, and splits her time between the North Campus, South Campus, and Tanglewood garden locations. Elizabeth is responsible for general garden upkeep as well as weekly produce harvests which are delivered to the WCU Resource Pantry. She helps to guide the WCU Gardens' volunteer experiences, coordinates events, and uses her position within the WCU Student Government Association to advertise and spread the word about gardening and sustainability efforts on campus.

 Plastic Free Chester County Panel Discussion Flyer


Plastic Free Chester County Panel Discussion

Join us Wednesday, April 21st at 7pm for the Plastic Free Chester County Panel Discussion, a virtual event hosted by the WCU Office of Sustainability, the West Chester Green Team, and members of the Chester County Environment AlliancePanelists to include Faran Savitz of Penn Environment, Gillean Alicea of the West Chester Borough Sustainability Advisory Council and the West Chester Green Team, and Pennsylvania State Representative Dianne Herrin.  The event is free but registration is required to join (see below).  The Plastic Free Chester County Panel Discussion is one of several events organized in celebration of Earth Week.  More details to come.




Sustainability Research and Practice Seminar

The Sustainability Research and Practice Seminar is back for the Spring 2021 Semester! Wednesdays, grab your lunch and log on from 12pm to 12:50pm for a casual, yet inspiring talk from researchers and practitioners across a wide variety of disciplines.  See the full schedule of speakers below!

Schedule of Speakers - Spring 2021

2/3 Liz Carper, Instructor/Counselor WCU Counseling & Psychological Services - Connecting in a Socially Distant World  View recording

2/10 Professor Megan Schraedley, Communications and Media - Teaching Transition:
Organizing Sustainably through Service-Learning  View recording

2/17 Professor Joan Welch, Geography and Planning, and Michael Dunn, Consulting Municipal Arborist, West Chester Borough - West Chester Borough Urban Forest: An Environmental Benefit For All  View recording

2/24 John Lattanze, WCU Energy Project Manager - The Sustainability Impacts of
WCU Building Energy Use Management  View recording

3/3 Steve Sassaman, Interim Associate Director for the Center for Civic Engagement & Social Impact, Michael Sofis, Senior Scientist at Advocates for Human Potential, Inc., and Scott Ramsey, Associate Faculty, Prescott College - Effective Climate Change Communication Strategies in the [M]anthropocene

3/10 Professor Gopal Sankaran, Public Health - COVID-19 and Sustainable Development Goals: The Pandemic, Politics, and the Road Ahead

3/24 Professor Martin Helmke, Earth & Space Sciences, Abigail Keebler, B.S. Geoscience 2021, and Patricia Haug, M.S. Geoscience 2020 - WCU’s Geoexchange System, Stream Salinization, and Heated Sidewalks: Exercises in Sustainable Connections

3/31 Professor Kathryn (Tina) Alessandria, Counselor Education - Dogs, Stress, and Tests, Oh My! A Wellness Program for Students Taking a High Stakes Test

4/7 Shannon Gillespie, Assistant Director, Center for Civic Engagement & Social Impact, Nick Marcil, M.S. Higher Education Policy & Student Affairs 2022, Maeve Dowd, B.S. Urban & Environmental Planning 2022, and McKenna Kovatch, B.S. Biochemistry 2022 - Creating Community Connections On & Off Campus: RamCorps

4/14 Professor Melanie Vile, Environmental Health - The Impact of Oil Sands Mining on Peatland Ecosystems in Alberta, Canada

4/21 Professor Martha Donkor, History and Women’s and Gender Studies - Women, Globalization, Migration, and Work

4/28 Yu-Shien Ni, Post-Landfill Action Network Atlas Program, Andrew James, M.S. Higher Education Policy & Student Affairs 2021, and Grace Bowden, B.A., Communication Studies 2021 - Beyond Recycling: A Progress Report on WCU’s Ongoing Zero Waste Assessment

Stream Live via Zoom!

Meeting ID: 948 1214 3774
Passcode: 246583

Certifications and Memberships

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