About

A Center for the Environment is underway at Wellesley College!

Why?

Women, ethnic minorities, and people living in poverty are disproportionately affected by environmental issues, globally and locally.  This same majority of people are underrepresented at decision-making tables – corporate, government, academic.  Wellesley College aims to fix that, with need-blind admissions for a great diversity of women who aspire to make a difference in the world.

Wellesley’s Center for the Environment integrates across academic disciplines, bringing the full strength of the liberal arts to bear on environmental challenges.  Partnering with Babson College and Olin College brings business and engineering to make a potent platform for innovation.

Project Handprint integrates across generations of Wellesley women to build the Center community, vastly increasing our capacity to take on complex challenges from a range of perspectives.

Collaboration across disciplines and across generations makes Wellesley an innovative and powerful force for positive environmental change.

What’s the idea?

Project Handprint is creating a powerful learning community focused on environmental issues.  While there is a trend to try to minimize one’s ecological footprint, so as to have the least negative impact on Earth’s systems, Wellesley women generally aspire to maximize their impact on the world, in a good way – hence the “handprint” as a metaphor for positive environmental impact. Beyond improving  the efficiency of existing practices, the handprint idea promotes innovation and reimagining of the relationships between humans and the rest of nature.

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Sophia and Katie planting milk vetch, comfrey and chives in the Edible Ecosystem Garden

Project Handprint extends Wellesley’s liberal arts model to bring alumnae and Friends of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens into a collaborative exploration of environmental issues, beginning with food and agriculture. Wellesley faculty and students are doing exciting work, including on urban agriculture in Boston and in the “edible ecosystem” in the WCBG. Around the world Wellesley’s alumnae are running farms that are both ecologically and economically sound, working towards agricultural sustainability in non-profit and government sectors, and doing cutting-edge research.

Project Handprint brings all of this together, starting with an inaugural symposium, with participants sharing the roles they play and the paths they took to those roles, and introducing current projects and opportunities to participate. Intended to inspire participants near and far, the discussion will continue online as we build a web-based network of interested affiliates. The site will be a clearinghouse for ideas and opportunities, and for the latest member updates on the many topical projects. The network connects alumnae and Friends with faculty and students from such disparate disciplines as Geosciences, American Studies, Biology, Economics, Art History, and Engineering, multiplying the learning opportunities for all involved. We expect this “cooperative extension” of the liberal arts model to yield conceptual breakthroughs, and certainly to promote a strong understanding of how to make progress on complex environmental issues.

Please join us! To become a member of the Handprinter Community (and receive access to our password protected “Handprinter Resources” page), email Handprint@wellesley.edu.