Sustainable Cemetery Studies Lab - What We Do

Oregon State's Sustainable Cemetery Studies program - the first of its kind in the world - is being created to address the complex issues of cemetery management in the 21st century.  Issues that cemetery managers and regulators must grapple with include property, asset and risk-management tasks in soil and water health; landscape management and design; wildlife habitat enhancement and conservation; natural resource and toxic use reduction; cemetery contract administration; environmental and asset risk management, policy and law; historic and cultural preservation; and the support of native ecosystem services as encountered within the context of a modern cemetery.

OUR MANAGEMENT EDUCATION GOAL: The goal of sustainable cemetery management is to manage a cemetery landscape so that it fosters habitat, reduces toxics use, maintains assets, conserves resources, minimizes costs, and maximizes community value over the centuries of its required operation while performing the utilitarian, cultural, aesthetic and eco-system service functions of a cemetery.

OUR RESEARCH GOAL: The object of cemetery research is to understand the state of the industry and its practices as well as the public, social and environmental services that cemeteries provide; frame the questions and conduct the research needed to improve their sustainability; and then provide the data and answers needed by operators, policy makers, regulators, and the general public in accordance with the University Land Grant system's public service guidelines and OSU's mission.

INTERNATIONAL AND INTERDISCIPLINARY SCOPE: OSU’s Sustainable Cemetery Studies Lab focuses on asking the big questions: what impact can (and do) our past practices have; how do we lower inputs and work with landscapes, environmental and cultural systems rather than against them; what do we need to do to understand “what goes on down there?”

Our interdisciplinary efforts help build the scientific, fiscal, and ecological foundation for cemetery professionals, administrators and researchers to improve cemetery management practices, primarily in existing cemeteries, to ensure the core public concern – affordably transitioning current operations to sustainability - is addressed.  Our research can contribute information and ideas to help make sound business, land-use and regulatory decisions supporting responsible cemetery operations over a multi-century timeframe with relevance worldwide.

UNIQUE ONLINE COURSE: The Introduction to Sustainable Cemetery Management

ACADEMIC/RESEARCH STUDENT SKILLS ACQUIRED: Through our “Introduction to Sustainable Cemetery Management” and other online courses, exposure to the cemetery’s operating context and terminology helps students apply concepts and skillsets from the natural systems sciences - including geology and soils, water management, horticulture, fish and wildlife, forestry, and ecosystems services - to the fiscal, social and environmental outcomes needed for a cemetery's successful growth and operation over the long term. Additional cemetery-related coursework can enhance student career goals in a range of work areas: private, corporate or municipal cemetery landscape management; public policy planning; cemetery administration; or research into practices, product materials, processes, or environmental risks of interest like measuring, monitoring and mitigating the pollution potential of cemeteries.



Financial contributions to support the Sustainable Cemetery Studies Program can be made by writing a check to the OSU Foundation with “Sustainable Cemetery Studies written in the memo line.  Mail checks to OSU Foundation at 850 SW 35th Street, Corvallis, OR 97333.  Credit Card donations can be made VIA the Foundation website - Designate your donation as “Other” and write "Sustainable Cemetery Studies" as the program.  Todd Bastian, Development Officer for the College of Agricultural Sciences can be contacted for other donation options (541-737-8724 or 800-354-7281 or Email)