Asha Phadke, ’12, has cultivated her passion for the environment at the University of Richmond. An environmental studies and geography double major and resident of the Earth Lodge living-learning community, this fall she’ll embark on a year-long study abroad trip designed to maximize her exposure to two very different landscapes.

In September Phadke will depart for New Zealand, where she’ll study geography at the University of Otago. In the spring she’ll relocate to India and move in with a family while studying sustainable development and completing an internship.

“I thought it would be cool to do a program that’s more immersed in the culture, like the India program, as well as do another where I’ll be with other college students, studying in a more traditional way,” she said. “It’s really a great two-fold year, getting to do both.”

Phadke lived in the Earth Lodge this year, and says the experience helped affirm her commitment to studying the environment and promoting eco-friendly practices.

Founded in 2005 as the Outdoor House, Earth Lodge provides students interested in the outdoors the opportunity to live and study together, promoting interdisciplinary engagement and discussion. Phadke lives with 12 other Earth Lodge students on the fourth floor of Lakeview Hall.

“I just really like the idea behind the earth lodge,” she said. “Being environmentally friendly and appreciating the outdoors is just something that I’ve always been passionate about. I wanted to branch out and meet new people who shared those same passions that I did.”

The group has organized hiking and camping trips and took an English class together last semester. Natural Reflections of Fiction and Nonfiction explored the physical and intellectual interactions between nature, humanity and technology through literature, film and other media.

Phadke says that the group’s diverse composure resulted in well-rounded class discussions.

“We’re very diverse,” she said. “We have philosophy majors, business majors and international studies majors. It was interesting hearing different perspectives on the same subject. You would hear about the environment from a business perspective, and then from a philosophical perspective in the same class.”

Phadke served as the Westhampton College Government Association Class of 2012 President this year, spearheading the creation of a program that matches School of Continuing Studies students with undergraduate student mentors that help acclimate them to the Richmond campus.

She also teaches spin classes at the Weinstein Center and helped coordinate the Collegiate Disaster Relief Team’s New Orleans spring break trip.

Phadke says that her studies and trips to New Orleans have piqued her interest in urban farming, but that she’d also like to travel and learn about other agricultural practices.

“I just want to keep learning and explore more,” she said. “Next year I’ll have the whole world to explore.”