Trinity Western University shares its “creation laboratory” with the public.

It's not a greenhouse or botanical garden, but instead it's the newest initiative on behalf of the Environmental Studies Department at Trinity Western University. The department, which aims to educate and inform people about the relationship between Christian faith and ecological stewardship, unveiled the new outdoor garden last week during the campus Earth Week.

The garden was created entirely by members of TWU's staff and faculty over the course of the past few years, and plans to expand the site in the future. For now, visitors can observe the various plants and read the descriptive plaques that tell not only facts about the plants and species, but also how they were used by First Nations communities.

The garden has been added to the University's existing Ecosystem Study Area or ESA. TWU's ESA is one of the most exciting ecosystems in the area, and the University's location is a huge bonus for current students or those who plan to enroll in environmental studies. Not every university can boast a healthy salmon-bearing stream running right through the middle of campus. But TWU's Environmental Studies students have the opportunity to observe and understand salmon in their natural habitat, view rarely seen birds, and even study endangered species all without leaving campus.

Dr. David Clements, co-director of Environmental Studies and Professor of Biology at TWU says, “The habitat associated with the salmon river is a tremendous creation laboratory for students and faculty to engage with, including an endangered species of snail.”

In the wake of global warming, while governments talk about how to fix the damage already done, organizations like TWU are pro-actively making an impact in their own communities. TWU works alongside A Rocha - Christians in Conservation, Langley Environmental Partners Society and hosts the yearly Earth Week that highlights the positive work being done in the environment and helps educate members of the public and campus community about issues pertaining to the environment.

The emphasis on education and community involvement is key according to Clements, “The reality is that university campuses across North America are responsible for a significant portion of the ecological footprint, and events like Earth Week help us think critically about our campus and the broader issues of stewardship in our community, our nation and beyond.”

Clements, encouraged by community efforts to celebrate and protect the environment, is hopeful that even more can be done.

“Education is still necessary,” says Clements. “To be honest, like environmental studies programs across Canada and in the U.S., our program is undersubscribed. We need to get the message out to high school students that there are many varied and rewarding careers in the environmental field. Many students looking to attend a Christian university are interested in making a difference in the world, and the message for them is that God does care for all of creation.”

While the ecosystem at TWU is delicate, the public is more than welcome to walk the trails in the ESA and visit the new Trillium Native Plant Garden, provided they only take photos and leave dogs at home. More information about the Environmental Studies Program at Trinity Western University can be found by visiting the website at www.twu.ca/envs

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 39 major areas of study ranging from business, communications and education to biotechnology and nursing, and offers 15 graduate degrees in such areas as counseling psychology, business, the humanities, theology and administrative leadership.

 

Last Updated: 2007-10-11
Author: Erin Mussolum