For her senior art thesis at Elon University in North Carolina, Charlotte Murphy made a local farm both the subject of and the source material for her work. The 2019 grad from Essex, Vermont, used red clay soil gathered from a nearby farm to depict maps of the land and the food produced on it. “As an art major, people might think I don’t have any connection to sustainability,” says Murphy, who created her art “to show the connection the soil makes between farm and fork.”

What’s more, Murphy has been able to combine her passions for art and the environment by taking interdisciplinary classes and serving as a resident assistant for Elon’s Sustainable Living Learning Community. She and seven other undergrads lived together in a dorm and participated in a range of environmentally focused activities throughout the year, such as hosting lunch discussions with professors and administrators about how to improve sustainability on campus, doing group hikes and making visits to local businesses to see examples of environmental efforts in action.

The goal, says Kelly Harer, Elon’s assistant director of sustainability for education and outreach, is “to really get the students out to see what sustainability is like in a healthy, thriving community.”

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