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This poster analyzes the natural areas of our peer institutions and outlines the benefits of investing in riverfront property along the James River, in order to expand opportunities for students to experience the natural environment and enhance their environmental stewardship,a goal of UR’s Strategic Plan. Indeed, investing in opportunities for students to engage in natural areas offers a competitive advantage for our institution. Natural areas can enhance student learning in a number of ways, including research, recreation, and living laboratories.

Student interest in environmental initiatives is increasing and plays a part in their decision to choose a college. According to the Princeton Review, as of 2017, 64% of college applicants surveyed stated that having information on a college’s commitment to the environment would contribute to their application/attendance decisions. This number is up 3% from 2016. Outdoor orientation activities also may improve first year retention by providing an increased sense of place (Bell et al. 2014).

Similarly, a 2014 NIRSA study found 62% of college students reported that campus recreation programs influenced their college decision. Many of our peer institutions have robust outdoor recreation, research, and teaching programs on university natural areas. The University’s proximity to the beautiful and iconic James River provides a unique opportunity.

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Conference Date

Fall 2017


Richmond, Virginia


Environmental Studies | Geographic Information Sciences | Geography | Physical and Environmental Geography

Riverfront UR: Peer Institutions and Natural Areas used for Research and Recreation


Poster Location