Greening Lafayette: a model for building sustainable community

Benjamin Cohen (Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA)
Kira T. Lawrence (Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA)
Andrea Armstrong (Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA)
Miranda Wilcha (Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA)
Alexa Gatti (Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 5 November 2018



A coalition of students, professors, administrators and operational staff at Lafayette College designed an environmental module to integrate in-class curricular education with out-of-class environmental engagement. The purpose of this study was to improve the ethos of sustainability across campus.


The research reported here draws from qualitative and quantitative assessments to corroborate previous evidence that institution-wide collaboration is a necessary prerequisite for the successful development of such environmental campus programming.


It adds to those prior conclusions with the finding that three intertwined factors are critical keys to success. One is attention in the design process to coalition building between the academic, administrative and operational units of campus; second is a strong focus on organizational capacity; and third is explicit attention to preparing long-term management.

Practical implications

The particularities of college campuses, where student residence is temporary while the campus environment is continuous, require attention to organizational sustainability as much as the more common technical features of sustainability (e.g. energy, water, food, transportation systems, etc.). For small colleges seeking to implement similar programming to foster a culture of sustainability on their campuses, that commitment to organizational sustainability demonstrates that maintenance, durability and invested personnel are essential factors when similarly seeking interdisciplinary environmental education initiatives.


This paper describes the original program structure of Greening Lafayette. The program was built on the campus of Lafayette College through specific co-curricular, administrative, academic and facilities efforts. The paper details the approach Lafayette College students and faculty took to draw from best practices in campus sustainability, analyze their campus’ baseline engagement in and awareness of sustainability and leverage their college’s structures to design a program that generates a campus ethos of sustainability. It further elucidates the importance of ensuring the organizational sustainability of the program itself. While Greening Lafayette was designed for the context of a specific undergraduate campus, the program offers a model for faculty, students and administrators of other colleges and universities to build coalitions, design sustainability programming and develop an ethos of sustainability on their campuses.



Cohen, B., Lawrence, K., Armstrong, A., Wilcha, M. and Gatti, A. (2018), "Greening Lafayette: a model for building sustainable community", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 7, pp. 1239-1258.

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