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December 4, 2012

Connecting the Dots...

Public engagement is not new to higher education. Recently, however, the term seems to be used increasingly to refer to community service. As higher education institutions raise the profile of their public engagement activities, and AASHE employs the concept as an indicator of sustainability, we need to be clear about the objectives of our commitment.

Engaging the public in a way that is reciprocal, in order to involve members of the community in a way that benefits all, is not easy. Much like intra-campus engagement, it requires skill and a level of trust in the capacity of others to participate.

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News of the Week

Education & Research



Co-Curricular Education & Student Organizing


Campus Operations



Dining Services












Planning, Administration & Engagement

Affordability & Access


Coordination & Planning




Health & Wellness


Public Engagement


New Resources




Jobs & Internships




Campus Sustainability Discussion Forums Highlights


News of the Week

Education & Research


1. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Creates Sustainability Degree

The institute has created a new major in sustainability studies to prepare students for jobs in the construction, science and engineering fields with a heavy focus on clean technology. The new Science and Technology Studies - Sustainability Studies B.S. program weaves together techniques and insights from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering to address environmental problems.
See also: AASHE Resource: Sustainability-Focused Academic Degree Programs

Co-Curricular Education & Student Organizing

2. SUNY ESF Launches Eco-Rep Program

The university has launched a new Eco-Representative Program that uses peer-to-peer interaction to raise awareness about sustainability issues among students living in a campus residence hall. The Office of Energy and Sustainability provided a budget of $1,000 for the Eco-Reps to fund the program throughout the academic year.

3. Northwestern U Students Push Plastic Water Bottle Ban

A student plastic reduction team has launched a campaign to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. The initiative involves petitioning the student body and spreading an educational message about the harmful effects of plastic on the environment. The campaign has garnered the support of several student and environmental groups on campus.

4. U Memphis Students Hold Living Wage Teach-In

The Progressive Student Alliance, a campus group dedicated to organizing against racism, sexism and economic oppressions, held a “teach-in” to emphasize the importance of campus workers getting paid a living wage.

Campus Operations


5. Roosevelt U Building Earns LEED Gold

The 32-story building features rooftop gardens, an exterior glass pattern that deters bird collision, pulper and composting systems, an indoor bicycle storage area, and innovative use of a small and unique urban land site.

6. Arizona State U Receives USGBC Awards

The Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council recognized the university for its accomplishments in achieving LEED certifications for building construction. The university received two awards for most certifications and most LEED Gold buildings in Arizona.

7. Yeshiva U Unveils Green Residence Hall

The university’s Brookdale Residence Hall has achieved its first Energy Star certification.
See also: AASHE Resource: Green Residence Halls (member resource)

8. Western Michigan U Opens New Sustainability Office

The university’s Office of Sustainability has been relocated to a building that formerly housed the University Bookstore. The renovated facility showcases existing campus sustainability initiatives and a new Sustainability Studio that will house a bicycle repair cooperative. A new electric car charging station has also been installed in the parking lot.

9. Fleming College Sustainable Building Program to Construct Library

The college’s Sustainable Building Design and Construction program has announced plans to partner with the Municipality of Highlands East to build a new library in 2013. The program averages about 26 students who design and build a completely sustainable structure from start to finish, showcasing green building technologies and energy-saving techniques.

10. Oklahoma State U to Develop Campus Eco-Village

The university has begun developing a housing option designed to encourage its residents to be more socially and ecologically aware. The eco-village will incorporate ideas about sustainable living in a socially integrated community.

Dining Services

11. Ithaca College Provides More Local Food Options

Members of the campus community, including students and employees, have been working to encourage a shift toward supporting locally produced food in campus dining. The college plans to bring more local food products to campus this year, and expects a five percent increase in food sourced from the region.


12. Eastern Illinois U Promotes Renewable Energy Initiatives

The university’s biological sciences department is collaborating with the Renewable Energy Center to promote clean energy initiatives through curriculum development and research programs. Current initiatives include a biomass project to identify local materials for generating power, and a biodiesel processing unit that is already providing power to a wildlife research vehicle.

13. Simon Fraser U Holds Green Lab Energy Reduction Challenge

The university recently held an energy reduction challenge to encourage occupants of the campus science and chemistry buildings to reduce their energy use. Facilities and Sustainability Office staff monitored fume hood and lighting usage in labs at different times of the day, and prizes were awarded.

14. U California Riverside Students Build Mobile Solar Power System

Engineering students have designed and built a mobile solar power system aimed to replace gasoline-powered generators to provide clean energy everywhere including on- and off-campus projects. The Green Campus Action Plan, a student-approved green fee, provided funding for the $34,000 project.

15. U Washington Installs Eco Thermostats in Residence Halls

The university’s Division of Student Life has developed and installed an Eco Thermostat for new residence halls on campus, putting students directly in touch with their energy consumption. Total energy needs in buildings with Eco Thermostats are expected to be reduced by about five percent.

16. Southern Oregon U Highlighted in Energy Department Video Series

The U.S. Department of Energy has released its fourth video in the “Clean Energy in Our Community” series, highlighting clean energy investments by the university. Some of the initiatives highlighted include the school’s investments in renewable energy, sustainability, and purchase of renewable energy certificates.


17. Middlesex CC Creates Sustainable Garden

The college marked the opening of its Mabel Burchard Fischer Grant Foundation sustainable garden with a gathering that allowed members of the campus community to plant the garden’s first herbs, perennials, and shrubs. The event was organized by the college’s Sustainability Team.

18. Rice U Plants Trees to Celebrate Centennial

In celebration of its centennial, the university has partnered with community leaders to plant 100 oak, bald cypress and other native trees in a reforestation area.


19. U Guelph Earns Fair Trade Status

The university has received Fair Trade Campus status from Fairtrade Canada. The certification is a result of the university’s commitment to purchase fair-trade products that uphold social and environmental standards to protect food producers and the environment.
See also: AASHE Resource: Campus Fair Trade Practices and Policies (member resource)


20. U Vermont Hosts First Bike Summit

The university has held its first annual Bike Summit in an effort to raise awareness about bike visibility on campus. The participants of the summit discussed options such as more bike racks around campus, more bike lanes downtown and a shop on campus to help with bike repairs.


21. Four Colleges and Universities Partner on Composting Program

Medical University of South Carolina, College of Charleston, Trident Technical College and The Citadel have contracted with Koeckeritz’s Food Waste Disposal to compost food waste. While collected material is transported to a compost facility for a fee, the program is expected to save money due to reduced landfill costs.
See also: AASHE Resource: Campus Composting Programs (member resource)

22. Rowan U to Introduce New Recycling Initiative

The university has announced plans to reduce the number of trashcans in academic buildings in an effort to increase recycling rates. A grant from Coca-Cola will be used to purchase additional recycling bins that will be placed throughout campus.

23. U Washington Students Develop 3-D Printer to Transform Waste

A student team has developed an inexpensive machine that can turn discarded plastic waste into useful objects. The group plans to work with Water for Humans, a nonprofit organization, to build three-dimensional printers that can make composting toilets and rain-catchment systems to be used in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Planning, Administration & Engagement

Affordability & Access

24. Valdosta State U Recognized for Adult Learning Success

The university has been recognized by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning for its efforts to improve access and college completion for adults. The university has established the office of Adult and Military Programs to improve degree completion for adult learners with particular attention to members of the military and veterans.

25. U Mississippi Food Bank Caters to Students in Need

The university has opened an on-campus food bank to provide access to meals for students in need, focusing on the overall health and well being of the campus community. The student-led initiative was made possible through financial donations and food drives.

Coordination & Planning

26. McGill U Releases Draft Sustainability Vision

The university has released Vision 2020, a draft sustainability vision and goals report. The report is available for comment online and across campus for “crowd-sourced track-changes” from students, faculty and staff. The university plans to finalize the sustainability vision and goals report in December and transition to action planning in January.

27. U British Columbia Launches Sustainability Engagement Strategy

The university has implemented a new initiative asking campus community members to contribute feedback and ideas on a campus-wide Engagement and Social Marketing Strategy. Information will be collected via surveys, focus group sessions, and a pilot program. The results of this campaign will assist the university in further achieving its reduction targets for energy, greenhouse gases, water and waste.

28. Montana State U to Create Office of Sustainability

The university has committed to supplement the Sustainability Center’s student fee with an additional $30,000 for the next two years to transition the center to a new Office of Sustainability. A committee is in the process of selecting a new director for the Office of Sustainability.


29. City U New York to Launch Social Justice Social Media Project

The university’s Graduate Center has received a $550,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to expand the social-media reach of academics working on social-justice issues. The project, called JustPublics@365, will train professors and graduate students to use social media to make social-justice research more visible to a wider audience and to measure its impact. A number of events, including conferences, will be held to connect researchers, social-justice activists, and journalists.

30. Connecticut College Receives Grant for Conservation Efforts

The college was awarded a $40,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation to establish a student-led energy conservation and engagement program. The ‘Reduce Your Use’ program will monitor five buildings on campus and limit their energy consumption. A program coordinator will use a variety of community-based social marketing techniques to support adoption of more sustainable, low-energy behaviors.

Health & Wellness

31. Loma Linda U Health Recognized by the American Heart Association

The university has been recognized by the American Heart Association as a Gold Fit-Friendly Worksite for encouraging a culture of wellness at the workplace through its Living Whole wellness program. The initiatives of the program include: Health risk assessments for employees, participation in the Breathe Program for tobacco dependency treatment, participation in Better Understanding for Individuals Living with Diabetes, and Living Whole wellness meals available to employees that are designed to meet specific nutrition criteria.

32. John C. Smith U Opens Health and Wellness Center on Campus

The university has opened HealthPlex, a new facility designed to provide health and wellness services that promote positive attitudes, healthy lifestyles and responsible self-care for the campus and surrounding community. The facility’s fitness center, teaching kitchen, yoga studio, and related wellness offerings are free to the campus, and are available to members of the community on a medical referral basis.

Public Engagement

33. The New School Solar House Becomes Home to Local Families

A student-assembled solar powered house that won the Solar Decathlon’s affordability contest will become a real home for two families in Washington D.C. Working with project partner Habitat for Humanity, volunteer builders fully realized the housing design by adding a second story and a second unit, making it a two-family home.

New Resources
34. Calling All Academic Sustainability Superstars

Your talents, knowledge and best practices are needed to kick off AASHE's new Academic Commons! We envision the Commons as a place that will capture and share all of the amazing ideas and resources that you use in teaching sustainability -- all in one searchable place. These can be in the form of lesson plans, syllabi, power point presentations, or even a scan of the napkin where you jotted down an idea for a new course or activity. Whatever form it takes, we need your help to make this the invaluable resource we imagine it to be. Visit the Academic Commons to learn more and submit your materials.

35. Northwest Earth Institute Sustainability Salon Discussion Tool

The Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) has released its Fall 2012 Sustainability Salon Discussion Tool. The resource includes article excerpts from NWEI course books and accompanying discussion questions on a variety of sustainability topics. This short, informal resource is intended to engage students in discussion and critical thinking on complex sustainability topics, as a discussion starter amongst faculty or staff during sustainability-focused meetings, as a tool for curriculum trainings and workshops around how to integrate sustainability into the curriculum, and as a way to spark conversation and introduce key concepts of sustainability.

36. Updated NWF Campus Sustainability Database

The National Wildlife Federation has added 112 new case studies to its campus sustainability case study database, which now includes more than 800 studies from higher education campuses across the U.S. Highlighted efforts include reducing pollution, waste, and costs; energy efficiency improvements; renewable energy installations; and green jobs training programs. The database is searchable by topic, year and school, and includes information on project goals, successes, challenges, funding strategies and project leaders.

37. Call for Papers: The Journal of Sustainability Education

The Journal of Sustainability Education invites submissions for its Spring 2013 special issue under the theme of experiential education. Preference will be given to authors who address social justice issues for populations that have been marginalized. Submissions are due by Jan. 13, 2012.

38. Call for Proposals: Alfred State Sustainability Conference

The college's second annual sustainability conference, "Innovations in Technical Education to Advance Sustainability: Student Leadership” seeks paper, poster, and panel presentations and invites submissions of abstracts on any topic related to the conference theme. The primary purpose of the conference, to be held June 6-8, 2013, is to bring together technical education practitioners and scholars to present cases, concepts, or ideas that advance, or have the potential to advance, sustainability through innovative educational practice. The deadline to submit is Dec. 7, 2012.

Jobs & Internships
39. Member Relations Coordinator, AASHE

40. Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies, Colgate U

41. Assistant Professor, Environmental Science, Springfield College

42. Assistant Professor, Sustainability & Human Behavior, U Michigan

43. Curriculum Developer, School of Sustainability, Arizona State U

44. Research Analyst, Facilities Management, Utah State U

45. Sustainable City Year Conference

April 10-12, 2013; Eugene, Oregon
Host: University of Oregon

Campus Sustainability Discussion Forums Highlights

Click on the titles below to view the full discussion thread.

46. Centralized Trash & Centralized Recycling

We are from a green initiative club at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. A current project of ours is to convert to a centralized trash system in campus buildings. We are looking for information about other campuses that are using centralized trash (with all recycling and trash bins in common areas such as hallways or lobbies, not in individual classrooms), such as the amount it has cost you to implement a centralized trash system and approximately how much money has been saved as a result. Even if you do not know this specific information, we appreciate any assistance and wisdom you would be willing to give us about this endeavor

47. New Energy System on Campus

My university will replace our current system (coal generated) in 2014. Please share any ideas on how renewable sources could work so that we don't look in automatically on natural gas.

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