University of Virginia professor Elizabeth K. Meyer has been appointed the inaugural faculty director of Morven Programs’ new Sustainability Lab.
Research and academic programs at the new lab will focus on environment and sustainability, food and agriculture, physical and mental wellness, and history and legacy.
Aligning with the sustainability goals defined in the University’s 2030 Plan, the lab will examine and address today’s environmental sustainability challenges.
“This is a 3,000-acre cultural and scientific experimental learning lab,” Meyer said. “There has always been an assumption that Morven is an open space that needed to be filled with buildings and outside activity, but I see Morven as full of history and memory and ecology. I would love, five years from now, for students to say ‘I want to come to UVA because I could do a semester abroad at Morven.’ There are so many opportunities to build on the incredible work that has been done on food sustainability, and I can see the excitement in students’ eyes when research is paired with learning on site.”
Meyer is the Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture at UVA’s School of Architecture, where she also served as dean from 2014 to 2016.
Her partner, David, grew up spending time on the Morven Farm with family friends and she hopes to fold leisurely strolls of the Morven Farm with him and others into the development of the Sustainability Lab.
“I want to walk on-site with people who love that place and know it,” Meyer said. “Lenora McQueen taught at Morven this past summer and is a descendent of a woman who was enslaved there. There are descendent stories and Native American stories on this site, so I’m going to use walking as an interview practice to get to know the place through other people’s eyes.”
The Morven Summer Institute, which typically runs from May to June, will continue after the opening of the Sustainability Lab.
Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University of Virginia Communications