Last summer, in response to a call from Pope Francis to “take concrete actions in the care of our common home,” Fordham published the Laudato Si’ Action Plan.

The document set forth an ambitious seven-year plan for the University that touches on everything from facilities and curriculum to student involvement, all with the ultimate goal of combating climate change.

Just this month, Fordham received a $50 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency that the University will use to team up with community partners to address the issue.

Below are a few of the sustainability-related efforts, developments, and accomplishments that took place in the final quarter of 2023. Look for more updates in 2024!


Going Hybrid
On Oct. 23, three hybrid minivans, including a wheelchair-accessible minivan, joined the fleet of Fordham’s Ram Vans. They replace gas-powered minivans previously used for wheelchair-accessible requests, trips to the Calder Center, and charter trip services. The vans use less gas, produce less CO₂, and can run up to 560 miles on one tank of gas.

a mini van
One of the three hybrid minivans in service at Rose Hill. Photo courtesy of Plinio Gonzalez


Micro Farms
This fall, Aramark installed vertical hydroponic units called Babylon Micro Farms at dining halls on the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses. They grow fresh greens and herbs in a water-based solution (instead of soil, which requires frequent watering.) The greens are harvested for use in dining hall dishes and special student events.

Compared to traditional methods, each micro farm uses 96% less water, zero pesticides, 65% less fertilizer, and zero miles to transport. As a result, between January and June 2023, using them allowed Fordham to save 19,247 gallons of water, prevent 2.5 pounds of nitrogen from entering waterways, and reduce 32 pounds of food waste.

a worker trimming salad
A worker harvesting greens from one of the vertical hydroponic units now at Rose Hill and Lincoln Center. Photo courtesy of Aramark


In the Classroom
Six undergraduate community-engaged learning classes offered in the Fall 2023 semester featured elements promoting sustainability: Anthropology of Food (Anthropology), Economics and Ecology of Food Systems (Economics), Thinking Visually (Visual Arts), Human Physiology (Biology), Consumer Behavior (Gabelli School of Business), and Leadership Integrated Project (Gabelli School of Business). At Fordham Law School, environmental law courses offered this semester included Environmental Law and Energy Law.

Fordham Law students wrote blog posts for the school’s Environmental Law Review on the Flint and Jackson water crises, NYC Local Law 97, the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry, and cell-cultivated meats.

Reading Laudato Si’
The Curran Center for American Catholic Studies held three seminars on Zoom this semester dedicated to reading Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and the 2023 follow-up, Laudate Deum. Visit the center’s website for more information on future seminars.

A Systems Approach
This semester, the Social Innovation Collaboratory and Career Center hosted a collaborative workshop on systems thinking, focused mainly on sustainability. The workshops, which were open to all undergraduate students, allowed them to explore the practice and application of systems thinking, which is rooted in a holistic approach to society’s more complex issues. The process is attractive to companies since it’s rooted in the idea of looking at complex problems with a new perspective. Contact Sadibou Sylla at the Collaborary for information on future workshops.

Students sitting around a table
Students taking part in a systems thinking workshop. Photo courtesy of the Fordham Career Center

Students Take the Lead

Green Week: United Student Government sponsored Fordham College at Rose Hill’s Sustainability Week in November. It featured the Fordham Flea Pop-Up as well as a seminar on composting basics.

The Lincoln Center Environmental Club held a clean makeup tabling event on Nov. 30 to showcase the benefits of cruelty-free and clean makeup.

Two students standing next to each other under a banner that says Composing 101
Fordham students Jayden Curtis and Olivia Clausen shared information about composting at a Sustainability Week presentation. Photo courtesy of Sean Power

Community Engagement

As part of the Reimagine the Cross Bronx campaign, Fordham staff conducted weekend “walkshops” in the neighborhoods surrounding the highway. Funding came from a $25,000 grant from the New York City Department (DOT) that the Center for Community Engaged Learning received in October.

Fordham staff and students also held special Halloween and Thanksgiving-themed events at the Highbridge Farmers Market and community space, which was recently expanded thanks to an AARP grant.

People standing around in a circle on a street
Members of the Fordham community on a recent “walkshop” alongside the Cross Bronx Expressway. Photo by Adam Bermudez

Faculty News

Marc Conte, Ph.D., professor of economics, published “Unequal Climate Impacts on Global Values of Natural Capital” in the journal Nature.

Stephen Holler, Ph.D., associate professor of physics, published “Education for Environmental Justice: The Fordham Regional Environmental Sensor for Healthy Air,” in the journal Social Sciences.

Isaie Dougnon
Isaie Dougnon Contributed photo

David Gibson, director of the Center for Religion and Culture (CRC), received $84,840 from the Porticus Foundation for the annual conference The Way Forward: Laudato Si’, Protecting Our Common Home, Building Our Common Church. The conference will take place in February at the University of San Diego.

Isaie Dougnon, Ph.D., associate professor of French and Francophone Studies and International Humanitarian Affairs, received $24,790 from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for research based on a local perspective on water and migration in West Africa.


Giselle Schmitz, GSAS ’22, spent this fall working with the Coral Triangle Center in Bali, Indonesia—a nonprofit that connects governments, corporations, and local groups to help strengthen marine resources in the region.

Giselle Schmitz sitting on Sanur Beach in Bali, Indonesia
Giselle Schmitz Photo by Yoga Tako

In Case You Missed It

It was a busy fall in terms of sustainability efforts! Here are some stories Fordham News covered that you may have missed: In October, the annual Fordham Women’s Summit focused on sustainability.  In our theology department, a lecture for first-year students featuring Union Theological Seminary professor John J. Thatamanil connected religious supremacy to the destruction of the natural world. Four students have joined the Office of Facilities Management’s newly created internship program, while alumni are helping protect New York City’s birds and helping farmers adapt to climate change. The Gabelli School of Business hosted two Nobel Laureates at a conference on ESG.  At the Law School, more than 20 students gathered in Central Park for a clean-up event for the annual Public Service Day, while alumna Melinda Baglio was honored for being a changemaker in the clean energy field.

Upcoming Events

Faculty Happy Hour: Sustainability and Environmental Justice
Open to all faculty interested in sharing ideas about sustainability.
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. RSVP: Julie Gafney, [email protected]

STEM Career Fair, Thursday, Feb. 15, Great Hall, Rose Hill Campus. Visit the Fordham Career Center next month for details.

Women of Color in STEM Career Panel, Wednesday, Feb. 28, Virtual. Visit the Fordham Career Center next month for details.

Social Impact and Non-Profit Micro-Fair, Thursday, March 14, 12th Floor Lounge, Lowenstein Center, Lincoln Center campus. Visit the Fordham Career Center next month for details.

Save the Date:

Climate Action Summit with President Tetlow: April 8, Rose Hill Campus

We’d Love to Hear From You!

Do you have a sustainability-related event, development, or news item you’d like to share? Contact Patrick Verel at [email protected].


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.