Guiding Principles

Sustainability is and will continue to be a central pillar of the twenty-first-century liberal arts education.

A set of guiding principles inform our sustainability priorities and efforts. These principles provide a framework for helping our campus community become more environmentally responsible and will ultimately inform the trustees approved 2016–2026 Strategic Sustainability Plan, which provides detailed action items for improving the College’s sustainability performance.

Below, we provide five core guiding sustainability principles with an explanation for each principle. We define the “Wellesley community” as students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and trustees of Wellesley College.

This is a living document and will continue to be revised as appropriate. We will periodically review these principles every five years.

Disciplined Thinking

Wellesley College develops knowledge about sustainability through research and education to be tested and shared at the local and global level.

As Wellesley College considers sustainability to be a key component of a liberal arts education, to reach this goal we will:

  • Encourage research on sustainability-related issues across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences

  • Educate our community by offering a wide range of courses related to sustainability, and diverse opportunities for relevant experiential learning

  • Engage the entire Wellesley community in testing ideas, adaptively managing campus resources, and sharing resulting knowledge beyond the College

Diversity and Inclusion

Wellesley College commits to the inclusion of all groups within our community — no matter their socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, physical ability, or any of the other categories that can be used to divide people — when addressing sustainability issues and in implementing sustainable practices. The institution recognizes that equitable and conscientious progress can only be made when all voices are able to speak and be heard.

To ensure the inclusion and equity of all groups of people in discussions and decisions about sustainability issues, Wellesley College will:

  • Communicate consistently and transparently about all decisions reached to achieve sustainability goals

  • Solicit and incorporate the perspectives and concerns of all campus constituencies into sustainability decisions

  • Provide opportunities and resources for the exploration of sustainability goals such that all are encouraged and able to participate; these include but are not limited to academic lectures and open forums about sustainability

  • Continue to adapt these Sustainability Guiding Principles as campus cultures change and new issues arise


Wellesley College is a campus community that offers students experiences to develop their leadership skills in sustainability and to take action locally, regionally, and globally on pressing sustainability issues.

Wellesley College ensures student leadership through actions that:

  • Maintain our robust sustainability program for students to take leadership roles under mentorship from inside and outside the institution

  • Offer opportunities to develop solutions to sustainability problems by using the campus as a living laboratory and by providing avenues for community service both locally and globally

  • Work with the College leadership to allocate and maintain resources for these programs to flourish

  • Connect the environmental issues we face with concepts of social justice, inspiring our campus community to commit to bettering the campus and the world

  • Require the college to be a leader by enacting with transparency and accountability the Sustainability Plan adopted by the Trustees in 2016


Wellesley College preserves, manages, and regenerates the campus landscape to build community, promote well-being and intellectually engage with the natural environment.

As this landscape is central to our identity and part of the unique founding principles of the College, the College seeks to:

  • Minimize impacts on the land by leaving natural forms and patterns intact, and protecting and restoring the hills, meadows, and forest

  • Provide transparent management approaches to the community

  • Use the landscape for interdisciplinary collaborations, research and teaching to explore questions of sustainable land and water, and biodiversity and restoration management

  • Engage physically, spiritually, and intellectually with the natural environment to build a sense of place, connectedness with nature and committed community

  • Promote physical and mental health by encouraging the use of and interaction with the landscape

Act Locally, Think Globally

Wellesley College’s community makes a difference in the world by being mindful of our impact on the greater global community, while minimizing our overall “footprint” and maximizing our “handprint.”

So that the Wellesley community continues striving to be a local and global leader in sustainability, we will:

  • Promote waste reduction, energy efficiency, reduction of consumption, renewable energy, and responsible consumer choice

  • Use sustainable practices in our physical infrastructure and landscape

  • Partner with local, regional, and global stakeholders in advancing sustainability efforts

  • Encourage our community and leadership to consistently operate with an awareness of the social, economic, environmental, and health-related impacts of our actions or inactions on the local and global community and the future generations.