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Rachel Carson graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women in 1929, now Chatham University, near downtown Pittsburgh.  Chatham established the Rachel Carson Institute in 1989 to honor her legacy.  They recently stepped it up a notch.

Chatham University is not adding a new LEED-certified building, or a campus garden, or remodelling/updating one of the historic structures on it's small, stately campus tucked in to Pittsburgh's bustling university district.  Chatham instead is looking to the north, where a half-hour's drive from campus leads to a 388-acre bucolic sanctuary donated to the university by the Eden Hall Foundation in 2008.  Chatham broke ground this fall on an entirely sustainable, zero-net energy consuming campus.  Pics and details below the fold.

Chatham University's Eden Hall campus as it appears today (Richland, PA).
Chatham is most certainly retaining its downtown campus, which will continue to serve as a private Women's college with 900 or so undergrads.  The Eden Hall campus is a new venture designed to house Chathams co-ed graduate program, the School of Sustainability and the Environment:
Designed to ultimately serve more than 1,000 students in a carbon and water resources neutral, zero-net energy integrated facility, Eden Hall will feature high performance green buildings and the latest in sustainable land, energy, and water management techniques. By protecting valuable watersheds, incorporating surrounding land and agricultural resources, and rehabilitating existing farm structures alongside developing new, green buildings, Eden Hall will be a one-of-a-kind venue for education, conferences, community outreach, and ecotourism.  --Chatham University website
Site Plan
Site Plan (not real--this is computer generated by the architects)
Having worked and taught on a few teaching farms/environmental ed centers in the 1990's, I'm especially impressed with one of the two graduate degrees being offered at this site:  a Master of Arts in Food Studies.  I think we've strayed way too far as a society from personal connections to the food we eat, and it seems the Food Studies program is focused on closing that gap.  As an aside, I once slaughtered a chicken with a group of fourth graders attending an overnight at one of the farms where I taught.  We then dissected, cooked and ate it.  I guarantee you those children will never forget the anatomy and inner-workings of a bird, or take for granted the life their Thanksgiving turkey may have led prior to it's day as the guest-of-honor.  I wish I had more opportunities to teach children this lesson, but only one group requested that experience (I obviously wouldn't have sprung that on an unsuspecting program).  The other graduate degree initially being offered is Master of Sustainability as well as programs offering a Certificate in Sustainable Management.  I don't have an interesting personal story about those.  By and large though, I don't think Chatham particularly cares about one's undergraduate background--they seem to want students invested in sustainability who have grand plans of their own and wish to create a program that meets their personal visions.

I don't work for Chatham and am not affiliated with the university in any way.  I'll tell you why I know so much about it at the end of this diary.  A few more pics for now, though:

Field Lab
Field Lab
EcoCenter
EcoCenter (Campus center--that's the original barn with modifications, I think).
To make a good story even better, Eden Hall farm has ridiculously good karma:
Originally a farm and retreat for the working women of Pittsburgh, Eden Hall was the vision of Sebastian Mueller (1860-1938) who immigrated to Pittsburgh from his native Germany in 1884 to work for his cousin Henry J. Heinz in his fledgling food processing operation. Mr. Mueller spent more than five decades working for what was then called "The House of Heinz". He headed the company's manufacturing operations, served on its board of directors and ran the organization during Mr. Heinz' absence. Sebastian Mueller won the respect and gratitude of not only the company's founder but also its legion of working women.

Mr. Mueller was generous in providing Heinz' female employees with medical care and financial assistance - long before the existence of corporate health care plans or government programs. His estate became the retreat for generations of Pittsburgh's working women and served as a memorial to the Mueller's two daughters, Elsa and Alma, both of whom died in childhood. Having no heirs, Mr. Mueller willed Eden Hall to serve as a vacation and respite destination for the working and retired women of the H.J. Heinz Company, as well as for the working women of western Pennsylvania.

More pics:
EcoLodge
EcoLodge (I don't know if it's a dorm or for visitors)
Dairy Barn
Dairy Barn (looks like it will be a student cafe).
By the way, most pics in this diary came from the architect's (Mithun) website.

To get the best sense of the scope and vision of this undertaking, I highly recommend viewing Chatham's Master Plan for the Eden Hall campus.  

I'm forty-eight with a 9 and 11 year old, and earned my Master's in Science and Environmental Ed as a proud Saluki.  Were I younger, however, I'd be all over this place:  students producing their own food, hiking trails and other rec opportunities, Walden Cottages (whatever those will be).  It looks amazing, and promotes the forethought that our society desperately needs.  In addition, current students will help modify and implement the Master Plan, using Eden Hall Farm as a field lab.  Incredible experience for a graduate student.

Here's an image of the Master Plan, but follow the link above for better images and specific descriptions:

From Chatham's Master Plan (follow link for descriptions/details).
So why do I know so much about this place?  As it turns out, I was layed off in August and have been searching for a job.  I saw a posting by Chatham for a Recruiter for their graduate program in sustainability.  To prep for my cover letter, I viewed their Master Plan and was blown away.  I got a phone interview and was subsequently invited for an in-person, but was informed yesterday that I'm no longer in consideration.  That freed me up to plug the place here without violating any site rules.  That's not as good as having actually gotten the job, but I'm happy to promote Chatham--everyone I met was amazing and worthy of my props.

That leaves me still jobless but I have incredible, healthy children, a wife who is the love of my life, and a supportive extended family ensuring our children won't notice Christmas is a little strained this year.  As for me, I'm going to enjoy the holidays and withhold serious panic until after the new year.

To wrap up, if you're a young'un looking for a special grad school opportunity here's Chatham's graduate admissions link.

If you're an old-timer with money to burn, here's Chatham's Make a Gift link.

And if you know someone hiring in the Cleveland, OH area that might be impressed with chicken-slaughtering experience, let me know.

Happy Holidays.

Originally posted to illegal smile on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:30 AM PST.

Also republished by J Town and Community Spotlight.

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