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The Frost Center aspires to engage a diverse community in the study of the environment.

We have three main goals for programming that will achieve this aim:

  • To curate what we have by highlighting pathways for studying the environment and issues of sustainability at Wellesley.

  • To support non-traditional learning experiences that are outside the standard Wellesley curriculum and reflect the content and practices needed to address interdisciplinary environmental issues.

  • To increase opportunity and support to enable students, faculty, and staff to consistently devote time and resources towards the interdisciplinary work of studying the environment.


Environmental Studies Department

The Frost Center for the Environment houses the Environmental Studies Department. Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary department at Wellesley College. It trains students to address pressing issues, such as the biodiversity crisis, the collapse of oceanic fisheries, toxic waste disposal, global climate change, green building design, and the inequities and causes of environmental degradation. Through course work, field trips, internships, and directed research, students develop the knowledge and skills needed to study, understand, and address contemporary environmental challenges at the local, national, and international level.

Environment-related courses

There are a wide range of environment-related courses taught by faculty within the ES Department as well as other Departments across the college. Some of the highlights for the 2021-22 academic year include:

  • The Politics of Chocolates and Other Foods (AFR 304/POL 302)

  • Environmental Movements in U.S. History (ES 204)

  • The Philosophy of Food (ES/PHIL 105)

  • The Color of Green Literature: Writing in the Face of Environmental Collapse (ES/GER/CPLT 238)
  • Are We What We Eat? Writing About Food and Culture (WRIT 128) 
  • Botany, Ecology, Empire (ES 244)
  • The Climate Crisis (ES/PEAC 125H)
  • Ecopoetics (ES/ENG 242)
  • Naturecultures: Feminist Futures & Environmental Justice (ES/WGST 328)


Handprint Symposium

On Saturday, September 24th, 2022, The Frost Center hosted a Handprint Symposium on the theme of Health and Climate Justice, featuring seven amazing alums, as well as welcoming remarks from President Paula Johnson. You can read a Spotlight Story about the event.

List of presenters:

Shani Fletcher  '98

Roheeni Saxena '08

Courtney Streett '09

Priya Gandbhir '09

Dominique Hazzard '12

Catherine McCandless '14

Charlotte Benishek '16



9:00am-9:45am: Welcome from President Johnson, orientation to the day. (H-101)


10:00-11:00am: Session 1 (simultaneous)

A: Charlotte Benishek and Priya Gandbhir (environmental law and policy panel) (H-105)

B: Courtney Streett (Edible Ecosystem tour through an Indigenous knowledge lens) (Oak tree in Edible Ecosystem)


11:15am-12:15pm: Session 2 (simultaneous)

A: Dominique Hazzard (using oral history to influence local environmental policy) (H-105)

B: Catherine McCandless and Shani Fletcher (climate adaptation in Boston) (H-101)


12:15pm-1:45pm: Lunch and discussion


1:45-2:45pm: Session 3 

A: Roheeni Saxena (research talk on environmental exposures and neurocognitive outcomes) (H-105)

B: Tours

- Tour of the Global Flora conservatory hosted by the Wellesley Botanic Gardens (Botanic Gardens Visitor Center)

- Tour of the outdoor Botanic Gardens hsoted by the Paulson Initiative (Oak tree in Edible Ecosystem)


3:00-4:00pm Group panel (H-101)

Frost Center Book Club

To encourage dialogue across the community, the Frost Center for the Environment hosts an annual program centered around reading and discussing a book of relevance to the environment and to the Wellesley Community. 

In 2021, the Frost Center Book Club discussed Stop Saving the Planet! An Environmental Manifesto by Jenny Price

For our inaugural book club in 2020, we selected Braiding Sweetgrass by ecologist Dr. Robin Kimmerer (Potawatomi). The discussion was co-hosted with the Native American Student Association. 

Please let us know if you'd like to suggest a book for our future Book Club discussions! 

Weekly Green Gatherings

In partnership with the Botanic Gardens, the Office of Sustainability, and the Paulson Ecology of Place Initiative, the Frost Center will be hosting weekly Green Gatherings that bring together any and all members of the Wellesley community interested in learning more about the environment and sustainabiity. Open to all students, faculty, and staff. Our Fall 2022 meetings will take place from 3:30-4:30pm on Tuesdays. We will gather at the sit step area in the new Science Center, right by the Frost Center (first floor between the N and E wings). Please join us beginning September 13th!

The Douglas Lecture

Supported by a gift in honor of pioneering Wellesley alumna Marjory Stoneman Douglas ’12, the Frost Center hosts an annual lecture by a prominent environmental thinker. The Douglas Lecture with Dr. Sharon Hall, will be held on Tuesday, April 24th, 2023 in H-105.

Action Items

31 Actions for 31 Days

The Frost Center, in collaboration with the Sustainability Office, Paulson Initiative, and Botanic Gardens, has developed a list of 31 Actions for 31 Days as part of the January Project (adapted from this page hosted by Sustainability for Earth Day last year). We hope this asynchronous list of actions will be a framework to engage the community around environmental issues.

31 Actions for 31 Days of January

  1. Part of the Wellesley community? Connect with the Frost Center, to stay in the loop and get info on (virtual) events, campaigns, and more! During the academic year we have community meetings every Wednesday at 10 am EDT. You can also sign up for the Paulson Initiative and Frost Center for the Environment newsletters online, and email Wellesley Facilities and EnAct to sign up for theirs.
    1. Follow/like our social media accounts too!:
      1. Frost Center: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
      2. Paulson Initiative: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
      3. EnAct: Instagram, Facebook
  2. Be intentional: Whether you call it a New Years resolution or not, set aside some time to think through - and better yet, jot down - some goals and concrete ways that you can support the environment and your local communities (which of course will also help you!).
  3. Volunteer, support, or educate yourself about a local social justice nonprofit, small business, or mutual aid network in your community. Here are a few suggestions for the Boston Area. A quick Google search should be able to connect you to others in your area.
  4. Listen to a podcast about the environment or climate change
    1. How to Save a Planet (link)
    2. Code Switch, Ep 2:  Being 'Outdoorsy' When You're Black Or Brown (link)
  5. Turn off lights when you leave a room and unplug appliances and electronics that are not in use to prevent energy vampires.
  6. Enjoy some time offline with a good book. Frost Center book club read, Braiding Sweetgrass is a great option along with The Hidden Life of Trees and Love Earth Now. 
  7. Complete the Sustainable Living Certificate by the Office of Sustainability. Whether on or off campus this is a great way to tally what you are doing well, and get ideas and suggestions on what you could do better to live more sustainably!  
  8. If you don’t already know, and are in the States, take a moment to learn about the land you inhabit. Whose land was it, and what is their presence like in your community? What ways are there for you to honor the land and support indigenous people?
  9. Explore activities, games, and videos from NASA Climate Kids with younger members of your family, or take a virtual tour of the Natural History Museum.
  10. Watch an environmental film or documentary. The DC Environmental Film Festival is a good place to find recommendations; some of their 2020 films are currently streaming online.
  11. Take a moment to appreciate the positives of where you are in life, be that an amazing college, a rewarding career, or online with a clear email inbox!
  12. Visit a local park or take a walk around your neighborhood. Being outside does not mean you have to be near people, or people outside of your bubble. Before heading out, check local guidelines and park closures to ensure the area is not crowded or closed and avoid narrow trails to make distancing easier. Short breaks outside have been proven to have many benefits, including better focus and improved health.
  13. Virtually explore National Parks at least 30 of which are available via Google Earth Virtual National Park Tours
  14. Let nature in! If you’re inside, try to let in as much natural light as possible, and enjoy some fresh air by opening a window or consider growing an indoor plant. Check out WindowSwap to see what’s outside windows around the world. And head to this article to learn how to grow herbs like basil, mint, and thyme in your windowsill plants!
  15. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Carry around a reusable water bottle as a reminder.
  16. Move your body in a way that feels good. Feel energized and refreshed by walking, registering for an online PERA fitness classgo for a bike ride or simply stretch for a few minutes. 
  17. Try regrowing foods such as avocados, herbs, tomatoes, and potatoes from kitchen scraps.
  18. Closet overflowing? Share, donate, or upcycle your clothing! Although hosting a swap-party may not be in the cards right now, you can gift used items to others whose lives they will bring joy to . Remind them to pass on or donate what they won’t use. You can also consider selling using items through platforms like ThredUp and Poshmark.
  19. You can also mend or repurpose old fabric scraps to make scrunchies, headbands, and other fun gifts!
  20. Take ThreadUp’s Fast Fashion Impact Quiz
  21. Take a moment to thank yourself for taking a look at these actions and thinking about ways that you can help your community and our planet. You’re awesome.
  22. Try a shampoo bar or bamboo toothbrushes to reduce the use of plastic in your bathroom.
  23. Audit your plastic waste for a week, taking pictures of what you use before recycling or throwing them away. This step will help you to visualize your plastic usage so that you can create a plan for a life with less plastic. Explore ways to break up with plastic for good, and reduce your daily plastic use
  24. Try your hand at making a simple non-toxic cleaning spray for your home
  25. Recycle batteries from small appliances and your electronics. Use rechargeable batteries instead!
  26. Calculate your personal carbon footprint with The Nature Conservancy to better understand the natural resources you use on a daily basis.
  27. Reduce water and energy use by turning off water while soaping up dishes, brushing teeth, lathering. Aiming to only run full loads in the dishwasher or washing machine helps too!
  28. Keep your tires properly inflated (such as with a bike pump!) to get better gas mileage. Reduce your carbon footprint 20 pounds for each gallon of gas saved!
  29. Save some time and support your local community by ordering food from a minority-owned business near you! If you or someone you know can pick it up on foot, bike, or bus all the better. Call ahead if you won’t need utensils!
  30. Reduce printing needs by reading documents online and enabling double-sided printing. You can download a Google Drive extension “Kami” to mark-up your readings. To reduce eye strain by limiting blue light exposure, look into enabling night mode on your devices or picking up a pair of blue light blocking glasses.
  31. Share your sustainable habits with Wellesley! Some ways to get involved could be to sign up for a Green Department Certification, become an Eco-Rep in your Res hall, or explore other ways to appreciate our beautiful campus! 


Paulson-Frost Practitioner-Fellows Program

The Frost Center for the Environment and the Paulson Ecology of Place Initiative jointly host the Paulson-Frost Practitioner-Fellows Program. Practitioner-Fellows are individuals with substantial experience outside of academia whose expertise on environmental issues will enhance courses or other student-oriented curricular or co-curricular projects at Wellesley. They might include environmental engineers, journalists, farmers, scientists, activists, artists, or others who bring their knowledge and skill, as well as diverse perspectives and experiences, to bear on environmental topics. Faculty and staff at Wellesley will be invited to apply to host a Practitioner-Fellow each Spring. For information about past and current Fellows, please see the People page.

Summer Environmental Service Internships

The Frost Center is partnering with the Lumpkin Summer Institute For Service Learning to sponsor three summer internships for current sophomores focused on environmental service: one with CitySprouts and two with Mass Audubon's Boston Nature Center. Please see the Lumpkin website for details about the internships and application instructions!