Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 69.79
Liaison Megan Litke
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

American University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Courtney Stoner
Sustainability Analyst
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an active student group focused on sustainability?:

Name and a brief description of the active student groups focused on sustainability:

The American University Beekeeping Society promotes the health of honeybees and pollinators on American University’s campus, and within the local community. We practice small-cell, treatment-free beekeeping, in hopes of encouraging beekeeping for the sake of bees, not profit.

The Student Zero Waste Club aims to “to help American University achieve zero waste to landfill and incinerators by 2020 via education of the student body.” They host events such as Project Move-Out, an effort to reduce waste during move out by collecting unwanted items and then reselling them to students at the beginning of the next year.

Engineers for a Sustainable World-AU is a chapter of a global non-profit focused on hands-on sustainability projects. ESW is a network made up of people passionate about technical sustainability from all across the world. They believe that anyone who loves to solve problems is key to solving today's biggest sustainability challenges. ESW-AU hopes to increase STEM awareness on AU's campus and participate in community service projects in DC.

Kogod Sustainability Club is run by a group of passionate and motivated business students at the Kogod School of Business at American University. They believe in the intersection of business and sustainability.

The AU Sustainable Oceans Alliance is a student-led organization that seeks to educate the millennial generation on ocean health and sustainability.

Does the institution have a garden, farm, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, or an urban agriculture project where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:

The community garden is a space for all AU students, staff, and faculty to take advantage of where their food comes from and gain skills to grow for themselves. The garden is about 700 square feet, has 30 beds in addition to about 12 raspberry and blueberry bushes. We also grow a variety of vegetables including tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets, okra, as well as herbs such as basil, thyme, and mint. The food we produce goes to members of the garden club (membership is open, and if you contribute you can share the harvest). The university dining hall also uses the herbs in their cooking.

Furthermore, we are reducing food waste while providing the garden with nutrients by expanding our compost capacity. We compost about 1-3 pounds of coffee grounds a week from the Davenport Lounge on campus in addition to food scraps and garden plant waste.

Campus also has a variety of edible garden areas around campus, including herbs for any student or staff member to harvest on the main quad by the library. AU has a partnership with the Smithsonian Gardens to create AU's Edible Garden through a Learning by Leading program. This garden was planted as a part of Campus Beautification Day 2019.

American University also has a Beekeeping Society, with open membership, that cares for an on campus hive. The society also works alongside the DC Department of General Services to increase bee hives and habitat on campus and throughout the city.

Does the institution have a student-run enterprise that includes sustainability as part of its mission statement or stated purpose?:

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

The School of International Service houses the Davenport Coffee Lounge, a coffee shop run by students. The Davenport is dedicated to being a sustainable business. They serves all organic and fair trade coffees and teas; composts coffee grounds, cups, napkins, and utensils; gives a discount for using a reusable mug; and provides free reclaimed/returnable mugs. Each month, the Dav creates a special drink, which all proceeds go to philanthropic or service-oriented student organizations.

"The Dav is a non-profit student run organization, whose aim is to create a forum that enhances cross-cultural communication and forges bridges of understanding across communities in a friendly, harmonious and nurturing environment. Davenport brings students, faculty, staff and members of the community together in a unique and relaxing atmosphere where communication is facilitated, and ideas are exchanged in a friendly and constructive environment. The students are empowered to learn about service to the community, and the importance of caring and giving back. Teamwork, friendship, and cooperation are critical skills, which are transferred to the students, who in turn create compassion, loyalty, and commitment to serving the local and global community."


Does the institution have a sustainable investment fund, green revolving fund, or sustainable microfinance initiative through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:

The American University Sustainability Fund: American University’s Sustainability Fund advances the university’s active pursuit of sustainability by providing financial and administrative support for campus sustainability projects developed and proposed by members of the university community.

This program is open to any member of the university community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and neighborhood residents to propose sustainability projects. Projects must have a research or implementation component on the American University campus or in the nearby community. A committee of students, faculty and staff reviews and votes on proposals at least once per year.

Applicants may request between $500 – $1,500 per project. Project funds may be used for:
a) Materials or products required to implement the project;
b) Professional work, installation, or design;
c) Research and testing or monitoring equipment;
d) Student wages.

Has the institution hosted a conference, speaker series, symposium, or similar event focused on sustainability during the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia, or similar events focused on sustainability:

Each April is declared "Earth Month", and student-focused events, speakers, and symposium are held throughout the month. Earth month 2019 included the annual Campus Beautification day, a guided community bike ride, and an interactive art project. Speakers focused on sustainability are frequently featured in the School of International Service speaker series. The School of Communications also hosts a Films Across Borders series that features films focused on sustainability.

Has the institution hosted a cultural arts event, installation, or performance focused on sustainability with the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations, or performances focused on sustainability:

Sculptor of the Symbol of Sustainability and co-founder of the Mother Earth Project Barton Rubenstein visited campus with his Humans of Mother Earth project in April 2017. The event encouraged AU community members to share their feelings and perspectives on climate change, conservation, and being a human on this earth.

During 2019 Earth Month, a student artist created an interactive sculpture on campus that was displayed in our central dining building showcasing plastic in the ocean. The exhibit used plastic waste from campus to create an ocean display.

Does the institution have a wilderness or outdoors program that follow Leave No Trace principles?:

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:

AU Outdoors Club hosts wilderness-related events such as kayaking on the Potomac and rock climbing, as well as occasional overnight camping trips to nearby locations such as Shenandoah National Park.Other trips throughout the year include biking and hiking. During all trips, leaders encourage participants to follow Leave No Trace principles.

Has the institution had a sustainability-focused theme chosen for a themed semester, year, or first-year experience during the previous three years?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

Students in the Washington Semester have the opportunity to choose the semester theme International Environment and Development. This program is a unique course of study that combines an engaging seminar, visits with numerous activists and leaders, study of strategies to achieve change, and valuable interactions among students. Students learn about key actors in the global community, study specific issues such as education, inequality, the Sustainable Development Goals, social entrepreneurship and public/private partnerships, conservation and climate change.

Does the institution have a program through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

The Student Sustainability Educators offer a variety of opportunities for other students to learn sustainable life skills such as demonstrating correct waste diversion at campus events. Student Sustainability Educators also maintain a blog that highlights sustainable life skills, including stories on growing food, reducing waste, and hosting sustainable events. The Office of Sustainability also trained orientation leaders to allow for a discussion on sustainability on campus for incoming first-year students. Topics included waste sorting and diversion and energy conservation techniques.

Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

Student Sustainability Educators serve a critical role in the Office of Sustainability by working with students across campus to expand sustainability awareness and increase engagement. The part-time, paid interns connect students with institutional sustainability initiatives, create connections with the Office of Sustainability, and inspire personal behavior change in the AU community. Students work 5-10 hours per week, including mandatory weekly meetings and at least two hours in the Office of Sustainability. Tasks include event planning and outreach, in addition to general office work as needed. Students receive training in sustainability topics such as green buildings, zero waste, carbon neutrality, and energy efficiency, as well as strategies for developing outreach campaigns and effectively engaging peers.

Does the institution have a graduation pledge through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:

A brief description of the graduation pledge(s):

Graduating students can elect to take the Green Graduation Pledge. Those who do, receive a green pin to wear on their robes during their graduation ceremony. The Green Grad Pledge states: “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organization for which I work.”

A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that do not fall into one of the above categories:

The School of Communication has a Center for Environmental Filmmaking. The Center hosted events with filmmakers, such as National Geographic, WWF, and NOAA. They also hosted events as a part of the DC Environmental Film festival. These events included documentary screenings, panels, and a diversity & impact workshop.

The School of Communication's Center for Environmental Filmmaking also organized an Eco-Comedy Video Competition. The competition was for students to produce a short, humorous video that related to conservation and environmental protection. The spring 2019 theme was Climate Change.

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.