Aequitas Fellows Program in Sustainability

Wheaton College IL Students on Black Hills Field Trip

Growing pressures on environmental resources and a shifting global climate present grand challenges to societies across the globe for the next century and seriously threaten sustainability, defined as “the ability to meet the needs of the present without diminishing the capability of future generations to meet their needs.” Decisions being made now about how to address these challenges will change social and environmental structures, and Christians face an urgent call to responsibly participate in these decisions as stewards of creation. 

The Aequitas Fellows Program in Sustainability offers Wheaton College students a unique, multi-disciplinary opportunity to directly relate their robust Christian liberal arts education to the needs of contemporary society, to develop a personal ethic of creation care, and to practically address global environmental degradation. Aequitas Sustainability Fellows live and learn in community with a cohort of similarly-motivated students while (1) exploring the principles of sustainability in unique coursework, reading groups, and field experiences; (2) undertaking practical, hands-on group sustainability projects; (3) participating in an eight-week intensive summer program in the Black Hills of South Dakota; and (4) developing into a leader in sustainable action through an independent project. 

Program Courses and Experiences

Year One

  • AQTS 131 Introduction to Aequitas Sustainability
  • ENVR/GEOL 212 The Dynamic Earth and Environment
  • Sustainability Summer at the Wheaton College Science Station
    • ENVR 332 Principles of Environmental Sustainability
    • ENVR 333 Environmental Sustainability Practicum

Year Two

  • HNGR 114 Poverty, Justice and Transformation OR URBN 114 Social Life of Cities
  • AQTS 231 Aequitas Reading Group in Sustainability (repeated both semesters, 2 credits total)

Year Three       

  • AQTS 331 Aequitas Cohort Project in Sustainability (2 credits) OR AQTS 332 Aequitas Service Learning in Sustainability (2 credits)

Year Four         

  • AQTS 431 Aequitas Leadership in Sustainability (0 credits)

Students complete 8 additional credit hours from the approved elective list below:

Social Sciences

  • ANTH 342 Food, Farms, and Culture (4 Credits)
  • ECON 365 Economic Growth and Development (4 Credits)
  • ENVR 231 Environmental Law, Justice, and Development (2 Credits)
  • IR 318 Environmental Politics (4 credits)
  • PHIL/ENVR/BHS 305 Environmental Ethics (4 credits) OR PHIL 107 Food and Philosophy (4 credits)

Natural Sciences

  • BHS 338 Economic Botany (4 Credits)
  • ENVR/GEOL 341 Quantitative Methods for Environmental Analysis and Problem Solving (4 Credits)
  • ENVR/GEOL 371 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (2 Credits)
  • ENVR 381 Environmental Pollution and Toxicology (4 Credits)
  • ENVR 422 Sustainable Agriculture (2 Credits)
  • ENVR 432 Introduction to Environmental Engineering (4 Credits)
  • GEOL 307 Water the Essential Natural Resource (4 credits)
  • GEOL 308 Energy and Climate Change (4 credits)


  • ENVR 395 Environmental Science Research (2-4 credits)
  • BHS 495 Biological Research (2-4 credits, if not used to satisfy AQTS 431)

The Aequitas Fellows Program in Sustainability provides students with a multi-disciplinary, cohort opportunity to explore the global challenges stemming from climate change and resource consumption. Throughout their time at Wheaton, Aequitas Sustainability Fellows will grow in community with their cohort while learning the principles of sustainability; undertaking practical, hands-on sustainability projects; and developing into a leader in sustainable action.

Year One

In the first year, students are introduced to the themes of the Aequitas Sustainability program by taking AQTS 131 Introduction to Aequitas Sustainability in the fall. Class discussions will focus on the impacts of personal choices and theological and practical motivations for embracing a personal ethic of creation care and students will begin the work of articulating a personal ethic of creation care that will extend throughout the Aequitas Sustainability program. In the spring, students take ENVR/GEOL 212 The Dynamic Earth and Environment. This class provides an SP tag toward Christ at the Core requirements and ensures that students understand how to undertake scientific research and address scientific claims before they head to the Sustainability Summer at the Wheaton College Science Station.

Summer Experience

In the summer either after a student’s freshman or sophomore year, students will participate in Wheaton in the Black Hills at the Wheaton College Science Station in South Dakota. Students receive partial financial support from the Aequitas Fellows Program to cover this eight-week summer experience and take two courses, ENVR 332 Principles of Environmental Sustainability and ENVR 333 Environmental Sustainability Practicum. In this intensive summer program, students master the fundamental theories and principles of environmental sustainability while acquiring the needed technical skills to implement sustainability solutions. Extensive field studies, field trips, and “real-world” implementation of a sustainability system at the WC Science Station connect theory and practice rooted in a Christian worldview. Here’s an example of the types of practical projects completed during the Sustainability Summer: Students Install Solar Panels at Wheaton College Science Station.

Year Two

In fall of year two, students may choose between HNGR 114 Poverty, Justice, and Transformation or URBN 114 Social Life of Cities. Both of these social science courses features sustainability themes with either global or urban perspectives. At the same time, students will also participate in AQTS 231 Aequitas Reading Group in Sustainability, where they will read and discuss books with a social science perspective on issues of sustainability. In the spring, students will take AQTS 231 Aequitas Reading Group in Sustainability again, this time focusing on collective action for sustainable change.


Students take eight hours of elective credit from an approved elective list. While these courses may be taken at any point, students are highly encouraged to complete electives by their third year. Students should select coursework that supports their particular interests in sustainability and can choose from natural science, social science, humanities, and experiential course options.

Years Three and Four

In the final two years of college, students will transition from learning the principles of sustainability to putting them into practice through implementation of a sustainable solution and demonstration of leadership in sustainability.

            Implementing Sustainable Solutions

Students will complete either AQTS 331 Aequitas Cohort Project in Sustainability or AQTS 332 Aequitas Service Learning in Sustainability.  Students enrolling in AQTS 331 will work together throughout their third year to identify opportunities for sustainable change at Wheaton College or with a community partner and will then design and begin implementation for the chosen project. This implementation effort may require students to install an infrastructure change, write a grant, lead a student education campaign, work with student government or student groups, or require other creative forms of engagement. Students who are studying abroad or off-campus during their junior year or participating in HNGR may alternatively elect to complete AQTS 332. Students enrolling in AQTS 332 will complete an internship or service learning experience of at least eighty hours focused on implementation of a sustainable system or change with their non-profit or campus organization.

            Leadership in Sustainability

The final requirement is completion of AQTS 431 Aequitas Leadership in Sustainability. Students may fulfill this experience requirement by: (a) doing research work with a faculty member or other scholar focused on sustainability themes; (b) holding a major sustainability leadership position at Wheaton, such as being EVP of Sustainability or President of the Garden Prairie Project; (c) completing an extension of a project from an elective, sustainability-related course; (d) installation of a community art project, presentation of a senior recital or senior art show, or performance of a theatrical production with sustainability themes; (e) completion of a HNGR independent project with sustainability themes; (f) providing leadership for the cohort project of the next class of Aequitas Sustainability Fellows; or (g) other experiences with the approval of the cohort coordinator. The purpose of the experiential requirement is to help students connect their major program of study with the themes of sustainability and to demonstrate leadership in the implementation of sustainable solutions or education of others surrounding sustainable themes. Students will present their project in spring of their final year at Wheaton College during the Aequitas Sustainability Colloquium.


Sustainability Theme Coordinator

Katherine ManeiroDr. Kathryn Maneiro serves as the Theme Coordinator for the Aequitas Fellows Program in Sustainability. Dr. Maneiro is a geochronologist who uses the mineral garnet to study some of Earth’s oldest rocks and explore questions about how plate tectonics operated early in Earth’s history. If you visit her office, you can hold some of Earth’s oldest rocks too! She loves teaching a wide variety of courses in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science – from a combined introductory geology and environmental science course where students play a semester-long game of Survivor and learn their sustainability habits through upper-level coursework teaching geology students about minerals, rocks, and fieldwork. Dr. Maneiro has been heavily involved in developing sustainability opportunities at Wheaton College, serving as the adviser for Wheaton Student Government’s EVP of Sustainability and co-advising the Garden Prairie Project ministry that oversees Wheaton’s community garden.