How to be involved in Environmental Impact at Amherst and Beyond

A 2021 study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 37% of Gen Zers say addressing global climate change is a top concern to them personally. The growing awareness of climate change, sustainability, and energy conservation has created a path for institutions to implement more sustainable practices on campus and in everyday life. At Amherst specifically, students can participate in various initiatives, classes, and extracurricular activities to cultivate positive environmental impact. 

Campus Operations and Engagement

The college has various efforts to limit environmental degradation and increase the overall sustainability of the campus’s operations. Amherst’s Climate Action Plan aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2030 through transformative modernization of our energy system from fossil fuels to renewable electricity. The Facilities Department together with the Office of Sustainability (OS) is helping spearhead this monumental shift and effort. The OS also hosts a Green Office program intended to engage faculty and staff in adopting sustainability best practices within campus offices. The program aims to help offices gauge how sustainable their spaces currently are, assist and educate with ways they can keep improving, and recognize offices for their sustainability efforts.

Student Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to work alongside these programs and support a wide variety of campus sustainability initiatives as OS interns. OS often hires student workers throughout the year and during the summer to work on various campus sustainability-related projects from sustainable food systems to zero waste to alternative transportation. Students can also become an EcoRep, a campus-wide, residential peer-to-peer student sustainability education program aimed at infusing sustainable living and lifestyle choices into the residential life experience and creating a campus culture of sustainability. The EcoRep program is run by OS.

This same sentiment of environmental service is reflected in the Global Sustainability Fellowship. The Office of Sustainability, in collaboration with the Office of Global Education, created the Global Sustainability Fellowship to allow students going abroad the chance to research and write about a critical environmental issue in their host community, which is shared via a blog.


Inside the classroom, students can use the open curriculum to register for sustainability-related classes in various departments such as Environmental Studies, American Studies, Geology, and Biology, among many others. Students can combine their service-driven mindset for the environment in these academically driven spaces with newfound academic knowledge. In classes like GEOL-109-01 Climate Change: Science and Rhetoric and ENST-226-01 Unequal Footprints on the Earth: Understanding the Social Drivers of Ecological Crises and Environmental Inequality, students can embrace both their interests and educational insight. 

Campus and Community Engagement

Students can take advantage of opportunities that promote environmental impact outside the classroom. At the Book & Plow Farm, students get to work hands-on growing vegetables for the Dining Hall, our CSA (Campus Supported Agriculture), and donations to local food pantries. Students can partake in this green initiative, whether you’re a hired member of the Fall Work Study Crew or a student looking to enjoy the farm’s fresh vegetables and ready-to-pick flowers. 

Amherst’s vast opportunities to get involved in various sustainability and environmental impact efforts allow students to work alongside college officials while gaining insight and experience they will one day use in their field. Whether students are working with the Office of Sustainability or studying for their Environmental Studies final, the possibility of being involved in environmental impact efforts at Amherst College is endless. 

To learn about more opportunities affiliated with environmental impact, subscribe to Micah Owino’s newsletter. As the Government & Nonprofits Program Director, Owino along with all other members of the Loeb Center, work with students to help them find internships and career opportunities and reach their academic and professional goals.

If you wish to meet with an advisor, schedule an appointment through Handshake. If you have technical difficulties, please call the Loeb Center at 413-542-2265.

By Brianne LaBare
Brianne LaBare Peer Career Advisor