The Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, has helped with the planning of Engage STL, one of the four “themes” in the newly restructured Bear Beginnings program. Engage STL, like the WUGA program, provides incoming first-years with an important introduction to sustainability on campus, as well as engagement with the greater St. Louis community.
While past pre-orientation programs like the ones offered by the Burning Kumquat and the Wilderness Project provided opportunities to engage in sustainability initiatives and education, Engage STL marks the first time the Office of Sustainability has been a part of programming on this scale. With the ability to collaborate with the Gephardt Institute and Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Sustainability has been able to continue participating in dialogue surrounding the intersection of social identities and sustainability and promote knowledge about environmental justice.
As part of Engage STL, the 275 new students in the program will be brought to use the Metro to explore Downtown St. Louis, have lunch from a local Green Dining Alliance restaurant, work with community gardens, and attend the Festival of Nations, among other exciting activities. Additionally, they will learn how to enter and exit communities, navigate and understand one’s identities, and much more over the course of Engage STL. In learning how topics such as racism, privilege, and sustainability intersect in the context of St. Louis, incoming students will leave the program with new connections, skills, and awareness necessary to be informed, engaged citizens.
A recent article published by the Gephardt Institute showcases the involvement of students leaders in the planning and execution of Engage STL. As Community Assistants for the program, Charlie Moss and Lizzi Kehoe – also a sustainability associate this summer – have been working closely with the professional staff members to organize and oversee the three-day program. Read more about their vision and experience in this in-depth interview.