The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities
The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities was established in 2020 as a regionally focused institute dedicated to promoting sustainable human flourishing. It operates through education, research, and leadership initiatives. The institute evolved from the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, which had gained national recognition over the past decade. Its primary objective is to foster sustainable communities by fostering connections between the campus and the community.
The institute is located in a net-zero, LEED-certified sustainable showcase home, surrounded by an organic farm at Furman University’s campus. It serves as a hub for collaboration among various professionals and stakeholders, including environmental scientists, economists, urban planners, policy experts, students, faculty, community members, and sustainability advocates. Together, they work towards the development and promotion of sustainable communities.
Within the Shi Institute, there are three centers that focus on different aspects of sustainability. The Center for Sustainability Education aims to enhance awareness and understanding of sustainability through educational programs. The Center for Applied Sustainability Research conducts research to address practical sustainability challenges. Finally, the Center for Sustainability Leadership focuses on cultivating leadership skills and initiatives that advance sustainability goals.
One of the Shi Institutes main initiatives is the Furman Farm. The Furman University Farm is a ¼ acre organic practice farm that emphasizes sustainable farming methods and features a comprehensive composting program. Student involvement is central to its management, and the farm produces a diverse range of fruits and vegetables that are supplied to the campus dining hall. The composting program handles waste from the dining hall and landscaping, employing different composting methods to effectively manage organic materials.
In addition, Furman has taken part in the Eco Reps national movement of students to promote sustainability. At Furman University, the program trains student leaders known as Eco Reps to promote and support sustainable initiatives on campus. Eco Reps fulfill their role by acting as sustainability ambassadors within the residence halls. They serve as examples by practicing sustainable behaviors and organizing educational programs focused on sustainability. Their goal is to inspire their peers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and contribute to a culture of sustainability on campus. The Eco Reps program at Furman University plays a vital role in fostering student leadership and raising awareness about sustainable practices among the campus community. Through their efforts, they aim to create a sustainable culture that positively impacts the environment and encourages sustainable behaviors among students.