Before Rachel Carson entered the Johns Hopkins Graduate School to study Biology in 1929, she attended Chatham University in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh when it was still the Pennsylvania College for Women (PCW) and when captains of industry — Carnegie, Mellon, Frick and more — still had mansions nearby. Today, Chatham is co-ed and Andrew Mellon’s “small” townhouse is the Chatham administration building amidst a wooded campus where other historic houses abound.
Today, Chatham is justly proud of their renowned environmental alumna. But they have also extended her legacy with a Rachel Carson Institute which is part of the Falk School of Sustainability, a national leader in sustainability undergraduate and graduate education that has been named by the Princeton Review and won numerous awards.
This spring, Dean Peter Walker of the Falk School invited RCC President Robert K. Musil to give a guest lecture, to meet with students and faculty, and to tour the Falk School’s new, world class, entirely sustainable Eden Hall Campus.
The Eden Hall campus comprises 388 acres of mixed woodland and agricultural land about a dozen miles above the historic Shadyside campus. It was originally the estate of Sebastian Mueller, a member of the Heinz family who oversaw production in the “House of Heinz” while also opening his estate for vacations and events for young women working in the Heinz factories. Eden Hall was left to charity to help young women and eventually passed on to Chatham. Thus, the new campus sees social justice as part of its broad environmental and sustainability mission.
The Eden Hall Campus is still under construction though it already houses sustainability students and faculty. It is self-sustaining in every way — emitting zero carbon emissions, managing all storm and wastewater on-site, and producing more energy than it consumes. There are advanced geothermal heating and cooling systems throughout the campus, new and renovated LEED-certified buildings including an iconic old dairy that has been retrofitted, solar roofs and covered parking areas, advanced hydroponic systems, and sustainable indoor fish farming. Advanced greenhouses monitor moisture, soil, and light with sensors and computer systems to minimize water usage, while classrooms feature the latest in sound and zoom videos connecting the Eden Hall Campus to remote locations.
With the help of the lead architecture firm Mithun and the 20-year master plan developed by BNIM and Andropogon, Eden Hall will eventually serve more than 1,500 students with programs in the fields of sustainability, health sciences, business, and more.
The Chatham Falk School of Sustainability joined the Rachel Carson Council Campus Network (RCCN) and is exploring joint efforts in environmental and social justice with the RCC.