Institute for Ecological Regeneration

This institute, one of three at Goshen College, provides a home for research, teaching and writing on the intertwined issues of environmental, economic and social sustainability. Faculty, staff and students collaborate on projects as diverse as installing permaculture test plots, designing schoolyard gardens, inviting traditional ecological knowledge into land management, creating moving artwork from found objects in local rivers, and many others.

Purpose

The Institute for Ecological Regeneration, under the umbrella of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, will be committed to bringing renewal and vitality to ecosystems through research and education.  Humankind is part of – not separate from – local, regional, national and global ecosystems. Humans have adversely impacted many natural systems — necessitating the call for transformative practices. The institute will study natural history, biotic and abiotic systems and the intersecting human dynamics. The institute will use the best investigative techniques and apply imagination to achieve an improved care and stewardship of creation. Principles of faith and shalom will guide the choice of actions to bring regeneration to ecological issues.

Places

Some examples of recent and current projects:

Ligonier, IN        Students created a photoessay and designed interpretive signage and a habitat restoration plan for an underutilized riverside trail in this rural Indiana town

Wolf Lake, IN    Students are experimenting with different ways to deliver informal, after-school nature education for elementary and middle school children and tracking educational outcomes

Millersburg, IN     Students and faculty are working with a local pasture-based beef cattle farm to assess the market feasibility of finishing cattle by grazing on restored prairie (at the same time as assessing changes to the prairie vegetation over time)

Andros Island, Bahamas   Students collaborated with local conservation and park agencies to improve place-based education opportunities for upper elementary studies on this rural island.

Projects

The projects and programs of the institute will be designed on the integration of four core themes: land, community, faith and peace. Conducting research, maintaining field collections and data, delivering formal academic courses, hosting symposia and disseminating learnings through various media to an array of publics will achieve the goals of the institute.  The institute provides a context for studying, integrating and applying the interdisciplinary constructs of resilience of the land, responsibilities of people in community, and commitments to peace and justice.

The current and planned programs of the institute include the agroecology summer intensive (ASI) and a sustainability leadership semester (SLS), both in residence at Merry Lea for undergraduate students, a master’s in environmental education, and conferences and symposia on topics of ecological stewardship. Undergraduate and graduate students will have direct involvement in the goals of the institute through various research projects.