Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 53.62
Liaison Michael Kensler
Submission Date Jan. 11, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Auburn University
EN-9: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Jennifer Morse
Administrator: Outreach and Communications
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “supportive”?:

A brief description of the institution’s supportive sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

The East Alabama Recycling Partnership aims to establish a comprehensive and coordinated regional recycling program to divert material from landfills by initiating programs to expand their capacity to collect materials and by implementing promotional and educational activities. Planning and working together with leaders in the community, EARP members (Lee County, cities of Opelika and Auburn, Auburn University) have enhanced their recycling programs, seeking to maximize recycling participation, reduce operation costs, and more effectively market recycled materials. The sharing of ideas and resources provides a strong foundation for a future regional recycling program. Auburn University commitment includes time and labor of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department employees and the volunteers they manage. The responsible party from Auburn University is the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department. For more information visit http://eastalrecycles.org/ or email aureuse@auburn.edu.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “collaborative”?:

A brief description of the institution's collaborative sustainability partnership(s):

In 2014 and 2015 Auburn University is partnering with the City of Auburn in the grant-assisted Urban Sustainability Accelerator program of Portland State University. The program exists to improve the sustainability of the urban downtown area of the City of Auburn and the adjacent Auburn University campus. Bike and pedestrian-friendly design, green infrastructure for stormwater management, safe walking paths and crosswalks, urban park development, tree-lined traffic calming devices, parking improvements, enhanced ambiance of downtown Auburn, new lighting techniques that lower energy use and improve nighttime experiences for downtown visitors, renovation of the central downtown intersection, and improved outdoor dining, are some of the improvements planned and underway through joint projects between Auburn University and the City of Auburn, and facilitated by the experts at the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State.

City and university staff have traveled to Portland for workshops, meet regularly to coordinate ongoing efforts, and conduct site visits to communities implementing some of the things being considered in Auburn. City council, downtown businesses, Auburn University students, and others have participated in educational presentations and meetings about this initiative and how it is improving the sustainability of Auburn’s downtown environmentally, economically, socially, and in terms of individual wellbeing. Significant quality of life improvements are occurring because of these initiatives, which complement and enhance Auburn’s Downtown Master Plan.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “transformative”?:

A brief description of the institution's transformative sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

Alabama Water Watch (AWW) is a citizen-based water quality monitoring program located in the Auburn University Water Resources Center, is funded by Auburn University and staffed by Auburn University employees. AWW was founded in 1992 and has partnered with thousands of citizens, numerous citizen groups, local, state, and federal agencies, schools, and others to create a state-wide community of engaged citizens working on behalf of sustainable watersheds.

With a “data-to-action” strategy, AWW educates citizens about water issues in Alabama and globally, trains citizens to conduct scientifically valid water quality assessments for a) water chemistry, b) bacteriological conditions, and c) stream biomonitoring, and empowers citizens to use their knowledge and water quality data to protect and restore local waters.

The Alabama Water Watch Association (AWWA) is an affiliated, not-for-profit organization that partners with and supports the work of the AWW program to engage citizens and communities. Members are citizens and organization around Alabama who support and utilize AWW resources. The AWWA Board of Directors is comprised of watershed representatives, water activists, and Auburn University employees who devote personal time to the organization.

Citizen and organizations who receive water monitoring training and provide data from their monitoring efforts make up the largest portion of stakeholders engaged with AWW. AWW provides educational training modules and site visits for classrooms and schools. Often AWWA members connect with their local schools to provide educational programming.

Surprisingly, 8-10% of the freshwater flowing in the lower 48 states flows through the rivers of Alabama. Some of these rivers are the most biodiverse in the nation for fish and shellfish species. Take a look at Alabama’s state seal and you will see how important the rivers of the state have historically been seen by the people of Alabama. Quality of life, public health, recreational activities and recreation-based economic activities are all dependent on clean water. Alabama’s Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is drastically underfunded and the citizen monitors in partnership with AWW provide an essential service in closing the broad gap of monitoring that a state agency would otherwise provide.

AWW partners with other water-related organizations to utilize data and knowledge of watersheds to promote a comprehensive, science-based watershed management system for the state. Alabama lacks a comprehensive water management plan, and AWW program expertise combined with citizens and citizen groups around the state and other water-related not-for-profit organizations, work together to raise an informed, complex, citizen-based voice to advocate for the most responsible protection of Alabama’s waters and a water management plan based on science and an understanding of the needs, services, and functioning of fresh water ecosystems and their interrelationships with people and communities.

The Opelika Grows project is a community garden outreach project in the Opelika and Lochapolka communities near Auburn. There are partnerships with both community members, schools, and the county. The project is built around equity and food security issues. Last year it donated 1500 pounds of food to the local food bank. In addition, the outreach grant they wrote provides summer jobs to students and the alternative school, Opelika Learning Center. This school has a high dropout rate and the partnership builds student skills and experience, making students more successful in school and in life. The project catalyzes community resiliency and local/regional sustainability by simultaneously supporting social equity and wellbeing, economic prosperity, and ecological health on a community or regional scale (e.g. “transition” projects and partnerships focused on community adaptation to climate change). The scope of the community garden is such that it is building social equity by providing the skills and experience to those who have not had many opportunities available to them for employment to ways to engage in their community. Personal wellbeing is enhanced as fresh produce is made available to the community. One of the programs in the partnership is Veggies in Vehicles which delivers produce to clients of the food bank when they are immobile and unable to get out of their house. Economic prosperity is increased as the at-risk students are provided employment opportunities over the summer and employed year round and paid during non-school hours. The partnership has influenced the ecological health of the community. They are practicing pesticide and herbicide free agriculture. They are promoting the production and consumption of local good thereby reducing the carbon footprint of food consumption. They compost to show the value of reduce, reuse, recycle. The duration of the project is multi-year or ongoing. It proposes or plans for institutionalized and systemic change and the partnerships are multiyear with no plans to end any time soon. The commitment of the institution is in providing faculty/staff and financial or material support. The University has supported the Opelika Grows partnership by allowing four different faculty to invest some of their time working on the partnership, the College of Education’s Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology (EFLT) Department pays two Teachers Assistants a half-time position, and the EFLT Department Head gave $25,000 in the 2014-2015 academic year toward the projects, the Office of Outreach gave $6,000 in the 2014 – 2015 academic year, the project received an Auburn University Outreach Grant for $20,000. The partnership has adopted a stakeholder engagement framework through which community members, vulnerable populations, faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders are engaged in program/project development, from agenda setting and planning to decision-making, implementation and review. The design of the program in Lochapolka is about getting folks from all walks of life working together. Involvement in designing the project is open to all participants. For more information visit: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/opelgro/communitygarden.html.

A brief description of the institution’s sustainability partnerships with distant (i.e. non-local) communities:

The Hunger Solutions Institute was established by the College of Human Sciences and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station in February 2012 in an effort to further Auburn’s internationally recognized efforts around food security domestically and globally. The Institute works by emphasizing sustainable human health and well-being, connecting knowledge with practice, empowering communities, and creating knowledge coalitions representing all academic disciplines and partnering with the public and private sectors. One of the initiatives through the institute is PUSH: President United to Solve Hunger. The initiative unites universities in the fight against hunger and malnutrition where university leaders agree to make food and nutrition security a priority on campus. Auburn University President Dr. Jay Gogue was the first university leader to take part in the movement. For more information visit: http://wp.auburn.edu/ufwh2/.

The website URL where information about sustainability partnerships is available:
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.