collage of portraits of students with colorful frames
Frost Center student ambassadors clockwise from top right: Laila Pearson ’22, Claire Hayhow ’21, Hope D'Erasmo ’21, Miracle Taanarwo ’23, Kristine Meader ’21, Frannie Adams ’21, Kelsey Dunn ’21

Camilla Chandler Frost ’47 Center for the Environment Encourages Student Environmental Leadership in the Wellesley Community and Beyond

Lucy Norton ‘21
September 18, 2020

Wellesley President Paula A. Johnson and Provost and Lia Gelin Poorvu ’56 Dean of the College Andrew Shennan announced the launch of the Camilla Chandler Frost ’47 Center for the Environment on September 18 and, with it, new leadership opportunities for students. Seven Frost Center student ambassadors will play important roles in supporting and fostering environmental education, advocacy, and activism for the College and the broader community.

The student ambassadors will work with center directors to plan programs, develop projects and social media campaigns, offer mentoring and outreach to student organizations, and provide fresh perspectives to the environmental studies program.

“I’m excited to be an ambassador because I can share my passion for appreciating the environment and working toward education around environmental issues and disparities,” said Frannie Adams ’21, an environmental studies major and economics minor. “I’m also excited to help environmental departments move away from the teachings and implementation of the white Western ideologies that dominate the field.”

Claire Hayhow ’21, an environmental studies and political science major, said the new center “expands Wellesley’s ability to teach and engage with this critical subject, and gives us new opportunities to work with other departments and student groups to show the breadth of what environmental studies encompasses.”

Rendering of the Frost Center entrance at the east wing of the new Science Center.

Overseen by faculty director Erich Hatala Matthes, associate professor of philosophy, and Jessica Hunter, environmental studies program coordinator, the Frost Center will be the intellectual and physical hub for environmental work at Wellesley.

“Environmental issues concern almost every aspect of our lives, intersecting with topics from inequality in agriculture to the arts,” said Matthes. “I’m thrilled to be in a position to support all the exciting environmental work already underway at Wellesley, and to help provide new opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to work together toward making a positive impact on our environment.”

Kelsey Dunn ’21, an environmental studies and political science major, has been deeply involved in environmental work on campus and in the general community, which is what motivated her to become an ambassador for the center. “What the center hopes to do, and what I hope to be a part of, is create a space—virtual for now, but physical eventually—for environmentally-minded people, groups, and initiatives to come together, support each other, and learn from each other,” she said. “One of our goals is to center anti-racist work and justice issues in all that we do, and we hope to make the center a place where people from across disciplines and life experiences can feel welcome, valued, and heard—working for the environment should mean working for all of us!”

The Frost Center will host a variety of programs and events in the coming academic year that will focus on interdisciplinary environmentalism, including a book discussion co-hosted with the Native American Students Association (NASA) and a remote internship project with ecologist and conservation scientist Rae Wynn-Grant, the center’s first practitioner fellow. In the spring, the Frost Center will host environmental sociologist Dorceta Taylor, of the Yale School of the Environment, who will deliver the annual Marjory Stoneman Douglas lecture.

One of the center’s goals is to find innovative solutions to environmental and sustainability challenges that affect the campus, the greater Boston community, and places the community is connected to around the world. That connectedness is one reason Ruvimbo “Miracle” Taanarwo ’23, an economics major, is excited to be a student ambassador. “I believe nature is not something separate, something a few opt into. It is us, and we are it. We are nature, and our fate is tied to the fates of every other creature, so we should do our very best to live in harmony with it,” she said.