Institute for Ecological Regeneration

About the Institute for Ecological Regeneration

This institute, one of two 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.

Dr. Jonathon Schramm directs the Institute for Ecological Regeneration. Contact him with inquiries at 260-799-5869 or

About the Institute for Ecological Regeneration


The Institute for Ecological Regeneration (IER), under the umbrella of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, is 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 & abiotic systems and the intersecting human dynamics. IER 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.


Some examples of recent and current projects:

  • Goshen, IN → Students analyzed energy usage and costs for the environmental building of the city of Goshen, and proposed a detailed plan for improving the energy efficiency of that, and eventually other city buildings.
  • Students designed and created an online community to explore sustainability topics with an eye towards the immigrant experience in the upper Midwest. Their group was called the Ecotiva Collective, and it resulted among other things in a series of fascinating podcasts.
  • 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, while also 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.


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 includes the sustainability semester (SS), where undergraduate students reside at Merry Lea, a master’s in environmental education (MAEE), and conferences & symposia on topics of ecological stewardship.

Undergraduate and graduate students have direct involvement in the goals of the institute through various research projects.

Previous Summer Research Projects