Sustainability at Amherst: The Path Forward

Presented by Wes Dripps ʼ92, Director of Sustainability and Moderated by Sara Zhu ʼ24

Wes Dripps ʼ92, Amherst's Director of Sustainability, and Sara Zhu ʼ24, Sustainability Assessment Fellow, shared an inside look into Amherst's sustainability efforts with more than 100 alumni during a virtual event on September 26. Wes shared a broad definition of sustainability—sustainable human flourishing—in which "we envision a world that meets the needs of all people within the means of the living planet." 

The conversation included a look at the new Office of Sustainability under academic affairs, which is working to integrate sustainability across the curriculum, co-curriculum and operations of the College. A deep dive into the Climate Action Plan covered the conversion to geothermal, the Farmington Solar Project, the new Student Center Dining Commons, and much more. The event concluded following a robust Q&A session, moderated by Sara. 

Learn more about the Office of Sustainability 

Wes Dripps is the Director of Sustainability for Amherst College. He is a 1992 alumnus who returned to the College after having been a professor of Earth, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences for twenty years at Furman University and UMass Boston. Wes has a master’s degree in Geology from Dartmouth College, and a Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Wisconsin. Since returning to Amherst in 2022, Wes has been building out the sustainability office’s faculty, staff, and student programs and working to integrate sustainability across the college's curriculum, co-curriculum, and operations.

Sara Zhu is an economics major and Bay Area native, who has worked in the Office of Sustainability since it reopened under Wes' leadership in 2022. As the Sustainability Assessment Fellow, Sara partners with a wide range of stakeholders to evaluate and amplify the impact of Amherst's sustainability initiatives. One of her recent projects has involved analyzing the ecological and social impact of the college's food procurement practices. Some of her favorite activities on campus include skateboarding down the bike path, Val-sitting, and playing jazz guitar with friends.

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