Sustainability at DePauw: Sophia Atkinson ‘22

This week I had the privilege of talking to Sophia Atkinson, a first-year student at DePauw University. Sophia is part of DePauw’s Sustainability Leadership Program (SLP), which is a DePauw Office of Sustainability initiative and is supported by the Environmental Fellows Program and the Hubbard Center for Student Engagement. With 75 students participating each semester, SLP is the largest program of its kind in the country.

Her Campus: Can you tell me a little bit about the program? What kind of projects are you guys working on?

Sophia Atkinson: Each year, we have one large project that all 75 of us work on. For example, this year we’re working towards environmental consulting. We plan on encouraging people that organize different events to have those events certified by the SLP. In order to do that, they will have to fill certain requirements about how to make their events more environmentally friendly.

Besides the larger project, we are also divided into smaller groups of around 10 people. My group used to be about wildlife and conservation, but we decided to split it into two parts—conservation education and forestry. I am part of the conservation education group. Our project for this semester is to create a newsletter and try to publish it in DePauw’s newspaper. We want to make people more aware of local and global problems. We are also planning on visiting schools in Greencastle and [talking] about conservation and sustainability with the students there.

HC: How often do you guys meet?

SA: All 75 of us meet once per week, and we also have a weekly meeting with our smaller group.

HC: Who leads this organization and decides on the projects?

SA: We discuss our ideas inside our groups and decide on our own projects. This program is very student-based. Even the leaders are students, and they don’t usually interfere with the work the smaller groups are doing. Basically, the program is student-led with some input from DePauw faculty from the Office of Sustainability.

HC: Why did you decide to join?

SA: I’m really interested [in] saving the environment and preserving it for the generations to come. I believe that the best way to do that is to start on a smaller scale, like a campus, and then work up. I also love being surrounded by people that are interested. It is really nice that DePauw has a program that works to improve the sustainability of this campus and gives some thought to the environment.

HC: Would you like your future career to have something to do with the environment?

SA: Yes. I want to go into research that is environmentally oriented. Specifically, I am very interested in how polluting the water affects the aquatic wildlife.  

HC: Do you think you’ll be part of this program next semester?

SA: Yes.