Sustainability Institute in preparation for a healthier campus

The Sustainability Education Engagement Destination (S.E.E.D.)
Photo credit: Thaddaeus Watkins 


The Sustainability Institute is Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s (FAMU) premier interdisciplinary center that concentrates on pressing issues, such as, the environment, sustainability and climate change. The objective of the Sustainability Institute is to bond the many talents and capabilities of FAMU to discover innovative solutions that create a cleaner and healthier environment.

The Sustainability Institute originally started in August 2014 under the leadership of former FAMU President Elmira Mangum.

The Sustainability Institute focuses on accelerating creative research and teaching collaborations, engaging the University and communities through a variety of activities while promoting research stewardship in campus operations. By doing so, the advancement of sustainability in all environmental, economic and social efforts on FAMU’s campus and in the world are greater.

Senior computer information systems student, Brenay Wright, is serious about assisting the Sustainability Institute shaping the campus to be eco-friendlier. “I enjoy making the world a better place,” Wright said.

Wright also shared her plans for the future. “Because I am learning how to garden now, I won’t need to purchase herbs from grocery stores… I will have a garden in my own back yard,” Wright said.

There are two roles that the Sustainability Institute focus on. They include cooperation and participation from the student body and problem solving from the faculty.

The Sustainability Institute encourages all students to visit the Sustainability Education Engagement Destination (S.E.E.D.) and to become acquainted with the Green Coalition, an official FAMU organization. The S.E.E.D. provides students a location with different backgrounds and majors opportunities to unite and assist in making a healthier and cleaner environment.

Third-year agronomy student, Halimah Wynn, is a regular visitor at the S.E.E.D. Wynn often visits to converse with her peers and participate in gardening.

“I’m here to gain practical experience,” Wynn said. “Visiting the S.E.E.D. and planting is peaceful.”

The Sustainability Institute is working on finding ways to have a cleaner environment. Through collaborative research amongst faculty and all enterprises from all disciplines, solutions to sustainability challenges are better.

The Sustainability Institute staff includes Dr. Kathryn Ziewitz, Interim Executive Director; Dr. Bruce Strouble, Research Coordinator; Bakari McClendon, Engagement Coordinator; and an office manager. The Sustainability Institute is in the process of forming an advisory council that will represent the entire campus community. Professionals from all disciplines are ideal.

The Sustainability Institute can be located at Lucy Moten, the former site of FAMU Developmental Research School. The staff of the Sustainability Institute is delighted to conduct their research at this location.

“We are repurposing an old space,” Ziewitz said. “That is a primary example of sustainability.”

The Sustainability Institute perform tasks that promote a cleaner and more sustainable environment for the FAMU campus. The daily responsibilities include applying for grants, delegating time to create a digital campus map and organizing and categorizing objects and materials needed to ensure the campus is on the right path to becoming more sustainable.

FAMU students Halimah Wynn and Brenay Wright gardening at the S.E.E.D.
Photo credit: Thaddaeus Watkins 

Many questions arise when you visualize the rapidity in Earth’s population and the number of resources being consumed. Questions the Sustainability Institute face are: How are we going to live with a growing population? Will there be enough food resources? What will we do about the constant climate change?

According to the Global Footprint Network and the World Wildlife Foundation, human beings used its allowance of resources, such as water, clean air, and soil on Aug. 2, 2017. Each year the date reduces.

Because of the increase of resources being used, the Sustainability Institute works tirelessly devoting their efforts and time to better FAMU’s campus. McClendon believes the Sustainability Institute is a great addition to FAMU.

“You have to start somewhere,” McClendon said. “The Sustainability Institute, the Green Coalition, and the S.E.E.D. is FAMU’s start and I am thankful to contribute to such an amazing project.”

The Sustainability Institute provides opportunities for social gatherings, gardening and gaining volunteer hours at the S.E.E.D. from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday and Thursday.

Workshops are also scheduled, the “31 Uses for a Lemon” will be from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 and “How to Build a Compost Bin” will be from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 9. Both workshops will be at the S.E.E.D.

The S.E.E.D. is located next to the FAMU Hansel E. Tookes, Sr. Student Recreation Center. Students are invited to relax, eat and study as it’s a great place for scenery. “There’s always something going on at the S.E.E.D,” Ziewitz said.

For additional information, contact Bakari McClendon, the Sustainability Institute engagement coordinator by email at