A short walk from central campus you’ll find 13,000 acres of opportunity at your fingertips. You will observe, grow, preserve, measure, manage, burn, and restore in this living laboratory we call the Domain. Your woodland workshop awaits.

The University's sustainability goals cut across all aspects of campus life, including: energy, food, water, buildings, materials management, transportation, and socially responsible investing.


Discerning the Shape of Water

Students and professors in a variety of disciplines take advantage of Sewanee’s local ecology to engage in water and water-systems research that is as deep as it is wide.

“The important thing to remember is that we are at the top of the watershed,” says Ken Smith, assistant dean of environmental programs. “That means our drinking water is about as clean as you can get, and also that we can measure what we do to that water at the municipal scale and get insights that researchers in other areas cannot. What happens here matters here, but it also matters elsewhere. We are starting to understand that better every day.”

Several years ago, Smith, along with colleagues Karen Kuers and Martin Knoll, put together a watershed science certificate, which now also involves Assistant Professor Keri Watson, and Biehl Professor in Biology Deborah McGrath. Along with Amy Turner, director of the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, Rob Bachman in chemistry, and several colleagues in biology, Sewanee professors and their students are exploiting the local ecology to produce an ever more robust understanding of the fate of water.

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A Controlled Burn

Students take you on a video tour of their forestry lab. They are actively taking part in the management of Sewanee's Forest. Oh, and there is actual fire. Lots of (controlled) fire.

A Different Kind of Fish Farming

The University Farm explores an experimental aquaponics system to grow vegetables and save water on and beyond the Domain.

In the fall of 2016, Sewanee found itself in the clutches of one of the worst droughts the region had ever seen. Classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor as severe, the drought meant that soils at the University Farm suffered for lack of rain. “I was running my irrigation water all the time, just trying to keep plants that are in the field alive,” says University Farm Manager Carolyn Hoagland.

Fortunately, there was already a solution in the works. Hoagland had experimented with aquaponics for environmental sustainability at the farm before the drought arrived. And now, a little more than a year after the drought, the system has been refined in ways that could extend its use well beyond the Domain. The project, already involving Sewanee students and faculty members, stands to expand to surrounding counties, particularly to farmers looking for a greener alternative to traditional farming.

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Hands on Learning


Within the forests and deep coves of the Domain, there exists is a little known and highly diverse prehistoric and historic record of human landuse. Field experiences include prehistoric rockshelter and historic house excavation. Past excavations recovered evidence of plants, animal bone fragments and tools from the hunter-gatherers of the Early Archaic as well as early horticulturalists of the Middle Woodland Period (ca. 8,000 to 2,000 years old).

Bat Blitz

Scientists from around the Southeast descend on Sewanee to survey bat populations and get a look at the kind of ecological research being conducted on the Domain.

Salamanders & Climate Change

Assistant Professor of Biology Kristen Cecala and her students are answering questions about how animal species might respond to climate change, one salamander at a time.

The Domain: An Immersive Experience