College launches institute focused on ecological regeneration

March 28, 2011

An “exciting new chapter” has begun at Goshen College, according to the college’s President James E. Brenneman on March 24 as he launched three institutes, all focused on the college’s distinctive academic strengths as they relate to faith.

“Today, I’m pleased to formally announce the creation and launch at Goshen College of the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism, the Institute for Ecological Regeneration and the Institute for Latino Educational Achievement,” said Brenneman at a gathering on campus. “Naming these distinctive programs as identifiable institutes will make explicit the quality of our academic work and I believe these institutes will enhance our vision of becoming a truly interdisciplinary, integrative liberal arts college.”

Academic Dean Anita Stalter added, “An institute is a place of study, reflection, analysis and education. The focus of each institute will be achieved by conducting and collaborating on research, delivering academic programming, and sharing what is learned with others.”

Institute for Ecological Regeneration

Dr. Luke Gascho presents the new institute.

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,” said Luke Gascho, executive director of Merry Lea and director of the institute. “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.”

The projects and programs of the institute will be designed on the integration of four core themes: land, community, faith and peace. “The intersection of these four themes will create a powerful synergy,” Gascho said. 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,” Gascho said.

The current and planned programs of the institute include the agroecology summer intensive and a sustainability semester in residence 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.

For more information about the Institute for Ecological Regeneration, visit Questions about the Institute for Ecological Regeneration can be directed to Dr. Luke Gascho: (260) 799-5869; For more information about all of the institutes, visit