The MindHandHeart Initiative taps into MIT’s passionate community spirit and innovative problem-solving skills to enhance mental health and overall well-being at MIT.
At the MIT Office of Sustainability, we seek to activate campus systems that promote health, well-being, and environmental justice, in partnership with students, staff, faculty, and community partners.
Supporting equitable and vibrant environments
When designing for healthier environments, MITOS supports systems that provide equitable access to clean air and water, as well as to our jobs, classes, recreation, and amenities like fresh food and groceries. MITOS works to understand and address the structural inequalities in our society that exacerbate negative health impacts for certain communities, including Black, Indigenous, people of color, low-income communities, immigrants, and persons with disabilities.
MITOS is currently exploring in its work:
The ways in which our built and natural environments on campus can support healthy lifestyles and community resilience
The critical relationship between our campus food system, social justice, and climate change
The health-related benefits of low-carbon transportation to, from, and around campus
The pursuit of environmental justice on campus and beyond
Read our draft framework and let us know any feedback and suggestions.
MITOS is part of a community of departments, labs, and centers working toward elements of a sustainable campus. Featured below are initiatives from some of our partners.
Community Wellness at MIT Medical works with the entire MIT community to provide the resources and programs that can help you make healthy choices, from yoga to healthful eating.
GetFit strives to make MIT a healthier community by encouraging participants to exercise regularly via a challenge, which typically runs from early February through April.
MITOS works to support a campus where everyone has access to healthy, affordable, and culturally meaningful food in an environment designed for social connection, sustainability, and innovation. Guided by MIT’s climate action plan, Fast Forward, and our 2018 Food & Sustainability Working Group report, we are working to procure sustainable food, build strong community partnerships, support pollinator habitats, lower the impact of our food-related greenhouse gas emissions, and more. Find out about these efforts below.
New partnerships, support for sustainable foods, and community-based incubator. (February 2022)
First-year students visit nonprofit grocer store and learn about food resources at MIT. (January 2022)
The Launchpad: MIT partners with nonprofit food incubator, CommonWealth Kitchen. (September 2021)
Food production and consumption are connected to climate change and carbon emissions at every level. Food is, therefore, listed as a priority commitment for decarbonizing the campus in MIT’s Fast Forward climate action plan, which states that MIT will establish a quantitative food goal in 2022. From tackling single-use disposable items, to providing more healthy, delicious plant-based options, to partnering with local food justice organizations, MITOS and MIT Dining will be in engaging the campus in conversation and working toward quantitative goals.
A sustainable food system also addresses the social, racial, economic, and environmental injustices embedded in food and farming. When solving for carbon and waste reductions, a sustainable food system also ensures access to affordable and culturally meaningful food, agricultural land, business opportunities, and safe working environments for all. MITOS is building relationships with organizations like CommonWealth Kitchen and the Daily Table, and works closely with MIT’s food security efforts. Visit DoingWell at MIT to learn about food security and financial resources.
The Hive Garden on the Saxon Lawn is made up of pollinator-attracting plants - which bring awareness to the crucial role that bees, butterflies, birds, beetles, moths, and others play in sustaining our economies, food security, and environmental health. Stay tuned as MIT embarks on new projects related to growing food and the pollinators that make it possible. If you are on campus, get in touch if you would like to be involved.
MIT Food & Sustainability Working Group
The MIT Food & Sustainability Working Group examined the cultural, administrative and environmental dimensions of the MIT food system, resulting in a set of recommendations for operationalizing sustainability across campus life and operations in 2018. Read more here, or click below.
MIT Dining partners with Bon Appétit as its on-campus vendor for residential dining. As a company, Bon Appetit strives to achieve greater social responsibility and sustainability, which led them to launch their Farm to Fork program in 1999, a company-wide commitment to buying locally. MIT Dining also partners with retail vendors across campus including the new Launchpad at W20.
The MIT Recycling program manages on-campus food waste collection. This includes food waste from nearly 20 dining facilities. Additionally, some residence halls, particularly graduate dorms, collect food waste for composting. Currently, only food waste or plant material may be collected, due to limitations in regional infrastructure for processing compostable containers and silverware. Take a look at the MIT Materials Matters Dashboard to access campus waste data.
The Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) funds MIT research, supports students, and brings global leaders together to solve water and food sector challenges.
Student initiatives such as the Food and Agricultural Club , which hosts an annual Innovation Prize , are also seeking to address elements of the food system on campus and globally.
MIT offers many on-campus resources related to food, wellness, and sustainability. These include the MIT Medical Community Wellness program as well as many classes during IAP and semester terms. Explore more:
1.74 Land, Water, Food, and Climate
11.377 Food Systems and the Environment
24.03 Good Food: The Ethics and Politics of Food
21A.155 Food, Culture, and Politics
21W.012 Writing and Rhetoric: Food for Thought
21G.045 Global Chinese Food
STS.429 Food and Power
During the Spring, Summer and Fall the City of Cambridge supports seven farmers markets. Two spring to fall markets accept EBT/SNAP - the Central Square Market and the Harvard University Market. In addition, the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market at the Cambridge Community Center accepts EBT/SNAP.
In Somerville, the Somerville Winter Farmers’ Market (December-April) accepts SNAP/ EBT and HIP (Healthy Incentives Program). The Union Square Farmers’ Market in Somerville (May-November) also SNAP/EBT/Food Stamps, and several vendors also accept WIC and Elder Coupons.
Cambridge and Boston both have many additional farmers markets that are available throughout the week. Find a market near you:
MITOS is working to promote environmental justice and center the values of diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion in all levels of our work, in line with the strategic priorities of the Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO) and MIT’s Campus Services and Stewardship units.
This work includes developing a deep understanding of the racial injustices that contribute to the unequal distribution of environmental costs, benefits, and conditions in communities. We also seek to advance an inclusive process, recognizing that the sustainability field has often marginalized groups who are the closest to pollution, most impacted by climate change, and who have the knowledge to contribute the most innovative solutions.
As MIT’s Fast Forward Climate Plan recognizes, “the world will not solve the climate problem without solving the intertwined problems of equity and economic transition.”
Learning, Collaborating, Doing - A New Vision
Through learning and collaboration, we are working with partners across the Institute, the Boston area, and beyond to develop actionable strategies that eliminate inequities and advance a healthy, just MIT community.
What might this look like? As we get to work, we envision an environmentally just community that ensures our local air is clean for all residents by maximizing renewable energy, material reuse, and green space and minimizing fossil fuels, waste incineration, and traffic congestion. We imagine a food system that supports local growers and small businesses, and is nutritious and accessible for all. And much more. We are exploring solutions that reduce the campus's impact on the environment, while nurturing and uplifting people.
Read our draft framework here. We welcome comments and suggestions.
The MIT Indigenous Peoples Advocacy Committee (IPAC) in part with MIT's American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), Native American Student Association (NASA) and other Indigenous MIT students/alumni developed this land acknowledgement statement.
Professor Paxson discusses how the "small but mighty" Anthropology department contributes to climate justice education and more.
Recent ESI white paper explores issues related to just transition to a low-carbon economy, “Changes in the contribution of coal to tax revenues in Greene County, PA, 2010-2019.”
Patricia Saulis is Executive Director of the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council and an MIT Visiting Scholar in 2020-2021 in Comparative Media Studies. This is her talk: “Creating Space for Balance: Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science — Two-Eyed Seeing — in Environmental Justice and Media”
Exploring her identity through writing has clarified senior Mimi Wahid’s desire to serve rural Southern communities like her hometown.
Recent MITOS Workshops
Climate Community Collaborative (September 20-21, 2023)
A convening of climate leaders from across sectors and communities, including academic, civic, nonprofit, tribal, and industry. We will actively engage in listening, understanding the landscape of current efforts and challenges, forming connections, and co-creating a vision for a Climate Community Collaborative.
ICEO Community Dialogues: Exploring Climate & Environmental Justice (Thursday, March 4, 2021)
An opportunity to reflect on your role in promoting climate and environmental justice at MIT with Susy Jones, MITOS; Asia Hypsher ’21; and Patricia Saulis, MLK Visiting Scholar, Executive Director, Maliseet Nation Conservation Council, Canada
Sustainability Connect: Exploring the Social Justice and Sustainability Nexus in Colombia, the U.S., and Campus (October 15, 2020)
With Susy Jones, MITOS; Janelle Knox Hayes, Associate Professor Associate Professor of Economic Geography and Planning; Luis Gilberto Murillo-Urrutia, Research fellow at ESI & Former Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia; and Marcela Angel, Research Associate at ESI
ICEO Day of Dialogue: Climate, Sustainability, & Justice at MIT (August 5, 2020)
This session opens up a dialogue to discuss the connection between environmental racism and justice and our work advancing a sustainable campus. With Susy Jones, MITOS; Justin Steil, Associate Professor of Law and Urban Planning; and Mimi Wahid ‘21
The Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO) is a resource for community, equity, inclusion, and diversity policies and resources, and an organizer of related activities and conversations.
ESI pursues multidisciplinary research, education, events, and partnerships to help move society toward an environmentally and socially sustainable future - including many issues related to environmental justice.
The Department of Urban Studies & Planning (DUSP) hosts classes, research and events across topics of equity and justice- related to transportation, housing, climate resiliency, civic design and more.
The PKG Center is the epicenter of public service at MIT, and hosts many opportunities and resources for students to engage in meaningful work and conversations around equity and justice in communities.
Researchers have documented growing accounts of climate distress and anxiety among educators, staff and students. At MITOS – in partnership with groups like MIT ESI, the Office of Student Wellbeing, and MIT Medical – we are exploring how to address the emotional dimensions to learning, teaching, and acting on climate change at MIT. This spring (for Earth Day 2023), MITOS helped to organize a workshop for the MIT community with a guided meditation led by Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and a discussion with faculty and mental health professionals. A list of resources is below.
At MIT, focusing on your wellbeing by caring for your mind and body, fostering meaningful relationships, and finding purpose will help you to thrive not only in the classroom but in all aspects of your life. Explore resources.
Wellbeing Ambassadors are students who are passionate about promoting a culture where they and their peers can prioritize their wellbeing. The WAs strive to create environments where they and their peers can care for their minds and bodies, build and foster relationships, and clarify a sense of purpose.
Climate optimism isn’t about denying what we can see with our own eyes, or ignoring our grief for what we’ve lost. It’s understanding that we know how to prevent things from getting worse and that we’re making progress. Read more.
The mission of the All We Can Save Project is to nurture the leaderful climate community we need for a life-giving future.
Climate Leader Ayana Elizabeth Johnson shares how we can all play a role in the climate movement by tapping into our skills, resources and networks.
We Were Made for These Times holds an essential teaching and meditation, unfolding a step-by-step process to nurture deeper freedom and stability in daily life.