Unity College: A Leader in Sustainability Education Preparing Students with Real-World Experience

Educating responsible, optimistic individuals committed to solving the world’s most pressing environmental problems through sustainability science

Many talk about taking an initiative, making a change, and bringing a transformation, but not everyone can make that a reality in the practical world. Unity College is making real-life change with a curriculum centered around real-world experiences. The College was the first institution of higher education to divest its investment portfolios from fossil fuels, and it continues to pursue sustainability initiatives through experiential education and an innovative enterprise approach.

The College’s flagship campus is located at 90 Quaker Hill Road in Unity, Maine, which gives students easy access to Maine’s farms, woods, and water.

Recent Initiatives in Dining and Organics

Unity College is at the forefront of sustainability initiatives, with the College’s Dining Services often leading the way. Unity College’s Dining Services was awarded Gold in Waste Management by the National Association of Colleges & University Food Services, as well as the overall Sustainability Grand Prize in 2017. Dining Services initiatives helped the College earn those honors included a program that diverts 100 percent of food service organics. Between August 2016 and March 2017, Dining Services diverted 26.6 tons of organic waste from landfills in only a span of eight months, and raised the overall campus diversion rate 10 percent, from 37 percent to 47 percent. The College has also aligned purchasing guidelines with the Real Food Challenge, which helps guide dining decisions to encourage a sustainable, local, fair, and humane food system.

Unity College’s Sustainability Office, Residence Life, and Facilities helped launch a pilot organics collection in one residence hall in 2017, which was declared a success and received the green light to expand to all residence halls.

Programs that Educate Sustainability Ambassadors of the Future

Through experiential and collaborative learning, Unity College graduates emerge as responsible citizens, environmental stewards, and visionary leaders. To make this a reality, the College offers numerous courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. For bachelor degrees, Unity College offers majors in Adventure-Based Environmental Education; Adventure Therapy; Art and Environment; Biology; Captive Wildlife Care and Education; Conservation Law Enforcement; Earth and Environmental Science; Environmental Policy, Law and Society; Environmental Writing and Media Studies; Marine Biology; Parks and Forest Resources; Sustainable Agriculture; Sustainable Business Enterprise; Sustainable Energy Management; Wildlife Biology; and Wildlife and Fisheries Management.

It even offers numerous online graduate programs including masters programs in Sustainable Natural Resource Management, Environmental GIScience, Environmental Science and Sustainability, and Conservation Law Enforcement. Unity College believes in learning through experience, and offers students a unique chance to actually practice within the field where other schools study models within a classroom. Some of the sites that enable Unity College to do this include:

  • Unity College: Sky Lodge, a historic sporting lodge located on more than 150 acres in the Moose River Valley, Maine.
  • McKay Farm and Research Station in Thorndike, Maine, where students can get hands-on training in running a greenhouse.
  • Unity College Center for the Arts, where students can study ceramics, painting, photography, film, sculpting, and new media right next to the Leonard Craig Gallery, where established artists showcase their work.

Another recent development for the College to reach new audiences is its online degree completion program, allowing adults interested in finishing their bachelor’s degree to do so.

Events Tailored for Experiential Education

Unity College organizes several events to help give students hands-on learning, including the Unity College Herpetology Club’s “Big Night” to raise awareness of amphibians crossing the road during breeding season. The College also works with The American Chestnut Foundation every year to help plant chestnut trees in new locations to see where they grow best, after the tree had become functionally extinct. They also work alongside the foundation to help create new cross-breeds that are more resistant to blight. Marine Biology students visit Curacao for research, and all entering students participate in a Nova trip, which fosters significant student growth and makes for a smooth transition for students into life at Unity College.
About the President of Unity College

Dr. Melik Peter Khoury, President of Unity College, leads the College to create an extraordinary experience in sustainability education for its students. He fosters experiential education and the creation of real-world enterprises as manifestations of the Unity College curriculum in order to provide educational experience as well as to supplement revenue in order to keep tuition more manageable for students.

“At Unity College, we are proud of creating an education that is made in Maine. Not only do we ensure students see all that Maine has to offer through various Nova orientation trips when they first arrive, we also now have sites in the Moose River Valley, as well as McKay Farm and Research Station in Thorndike, and Unity, of course and we’re continuing to grow,” said Dr. Khoury. “The traditional college education is changing and we are meeting students where they are through residential, online, and hybrid experiences. They get hands-on experience, as well as a high-quality liberal arts education, and we are continuing to look at every way we can give students the transformational learning experiences they expect and deserve to reach new audiences interested in becoming a student at Unity College.”

Financial Aid and Grants

Scholarships that can help students achieve their dreams at Unity College include: the George E. Constable Scholarship, for Maine residents majoring in Forestry or Wildlife; the Grace B. Simmons Scholarship for students who demonstrate a superior ability in mathematics; the Penobscot County Conservation Association, for students majoring in Wildlife Management or Conservation Law Enforcement and pursuing a career in Wildlife Management or CLE, and the Allison M. Hall Scholarship, for a junior or senior who demonstrates perseverance in overcoming adversity in pursuit of his or her education at Unity College, among many others.

Words of Trust

“I came to Unity College as a quiet student. With the opportunities, experience, and people that Unity College has given me, I have gone from a quiet student stuck in my room to a student who is very involved on campus. I confidently feel that Unity has given me the tools to be successful after I graduate.”

  • Den Suehiro (’19), Sustainable Agriculture major

“At Unity College, I’ve had the chance to be involved with several facets of student leadership that would be difficult to achieve at larger universities. My experiences here will be the crucible of my career in marine conservation.”

  • Jordan Baker (’20), Marine Biology major

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