USF Leads the Way with One Earth Initiative

by Stephani Hoye, Office of Development Communications

Alumni, faculty, and other members of the University of San Francisco community gathered this past weekend at the historic Filoli Estate for an afternoon on sustainability and environmental justice.

This year’s event titled, Rooted in Change: An Afternoon at Filoli Historic House & Garden, featured Acting Dean Jeffrey Paris of the College of Arts and Sciences and Program Director of Energy Systems Management, Fred Wellington. Their conversations focused on USF's pioneering One Earth Initiative (OEI), a transformative endeavor aimed at fostering sustainability and addressing environmental challenges by providing campus experiences that aid in students understanding environmental impacts and how to lead in environmental justice.

Fred Wellington expressed hope that this initiative would be a great learning experience for students and faculty.

"I think an important aspect of the OEI is that its recommendations are the results of input from over 30 faculty, administrators, and students,” said Wellington. “It provides a well-informed set of actions the university can take to address its own environmental impact… it also seeks to create space for an enhanced learning experience for USF students across all disciplines."

Guests reflected on the history and mission of the initiative, stemming from the inspiration of Pope Francis's 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, underscoring the urgent need to confront climate change and environmental threats.

Paris affirmed USF is on track with the program's seven-year plan to improve the university's sustainable infrastructure.

“Our school is dedicated to the health and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff, and also of the communities within which they live and work, including the global community,” said Paris.

With the added goal to enhance ecological cultures across campus and ensure the growth of the program, the university continues to develop long-standing practices to ensure the commitment stays firm.

The University of San Francisco was one of the first Jesuit universities to pledge a commitment to Laudato Si’. Beginning in 2021, USF President Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. committed early on to action plans.

"From the acquisition of Star Route Farms, the oldest continuously certified organic row crop farm in California, to being carbon neutral as of 2019, it is clear that USF intentionally aligns itself with the work at the intersection of complex ecological and social problems,” said Eden Ballard, director of development at the college of arts and sciences. “Having President Father Fitzgerald join the event at Filoli on Sunday is further evidence that Laudato Si’ reaches all levels of the university.”

Learn more about special alumni events and USF’s initiatives.