Images from Miami Student

(Images, clockwise from top left – East Entrance to Bishop Wood, Miami University, Oxford, OH, Bowden Postcard Collection Online, Walter Havighurst Special Collections; Libby Mueller, “MU Take Steps Toward Carbon Neutrality,” Miami Student, October 25, 2013; Slant Walk, Miami University, Oxford, OH, Bowden Postcard Collection Online, Walter Havighurst Special Collections; Deborah Breakall, “Society Wants to End Environmental Craze,” Miami Student, Oxford, OH, April 24, 1990)


Miami and the Land: Environmental Issues & Sustainability at Miami

Carrie Ann Sharitt

Department of Biology



Throughout its history, Miami University played a significant role in Oxford (Butler County) given its ongoing usage of community resources and its work with the local government to develop the village and, later, the city. Often, this usage is diverse, with the institution drawing its energy needs from different resources on campus including timber, coal, steam, and geothermal energy. Miami’s campus conversation acknowledges the ways in which the campus and students contribute both to the use of environmental resources and thus climate change. As a result, there have been initiatives aimed at debating – and often reducing -- Miami's impact, preserving natural resources, and making sustainable/ "green" choices. The materials from this project are intended for an introductory biology course, such as Bio 121, which is Environmental Biology for non-majors and which is frequently taken by non-STEM students at Miami as their science credit.

For those from STEM fields, this project introduces the possibility of bringing Miami’s institutional decision-making, student conversations, and local politics into courses that think about the intersection of science and public policy.



Early in the semester, students will complete a module in which they learn about the major historical milestones related to the expansion of Miami's campus, resource use, and environmental impacts. Students will be provided with numerous resources in a Canvas folder, and they will be asked to read at least 3 archival resources before responding to a discussion prompt (online). The students will also respond to at least one peer. In class, students will discuss how students have been involved in responding to environmental issues on campus and seeking changes. Finally, students will complete an assignment in which they make recommendations for Miami's future. 

  • Discussion Post Prompt: Based on your reading of at least 3 different archival articles, what environmental issues has Miami dealt with (or been concerned about) historically? What resources have been used on campus? Do you believe Miami has worked to be proactive in addressing environmental issues; why or why not? 
  • Recommendations for the Future: Given what we’ve learned in our course, how might you anticipate the questions of a building administrator, city council official, or concerned community member as they weigh new sustainability initiatives?


Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the resources that have historically been used on Miami's campus/ by Miami students
  • Examine student/campus led efforts aimed at preserving natural resources or increasing sustainability
  • Assess the impact of these efforts and reflect on how they have shaped Miami's relationship with the community 
  • Propose solutions to current or future issues related to Miami's use of natural resources or sustainability


Archival Sources

For this project, students should be encouraged to explore articles discussing environmental awareness efforts on campus as covered by the Miami Student.  Examples include: