Sustainability and Higher Education

The Sound Policy Institute works to integrate sustainability into higher education both here at the University of Puget Sound as well as at other colleges and universities across the country.  The Institute continues to help implement the national Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS)  through the Puget Sound Sustainability Advisory Committee.

Institute involvement began in 2005 when we hosted one of the first working meetings on the rating scheme for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). In 2009 the Institute facilitated a retreat for the Puget Sound Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC), which identified STARS as an organizational principle for the committee. The Institute continues to support this work by supervising the work of summer students to conduct content analysis on all Puget Sound course syllabi and faculty research to assess the curriculum and research metrics of STARS. This work was referenced in a white paper publication this year entitled, “Uncovering Sustainability in the Curriculum,” by Daniel Sherman put out by the US Green Buildings Council. The Institute has also helped design new pilot grant procedures for the SAC to encourage more innovative student/faculty/staff research projects that further campus sustainability goals. 

The Institute has made significant efforts to share lessons learned on sustainability and the higher education curriculum. In 2010-2011 Professor Sherman delivered eight conference talks and workshop presentations to faculty from around the country on matching curriculum goals in the disciplines to big ideas of sustainability and community-based learning. Some of these events included the annual meetings of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, American College Personnel Association, Society for Values in Higher Education, North American Association of Environmental Educators, and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

The Institute continues to work with the Curriculum for the Bioregion Project at the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education at Evergreen State College to host events on sustainability and place-based learning at Washington State colleges and universities. Beginning in 2011, these efforts were extended to several institutions in eastern Washington.