Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.40
Liaison Margaret Lo
Submission Date June 12, 2023

STARS v2.2

Ball State University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Joshua Gruver
Associate Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Management
Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:
Each semester, multiple sections of a course on Environment and Society (n=60-80 students) visit Christy Woods, The Rinard Orchid Greenhouse, the Environmental Learning Lab, and multiple other Ball State field properties to learn about ecological systems and nature interpretation among other environmental/sociological topics. The experience builds on students’ appreciation of nature and helps them develop ways to share their enthusiasm for nature with others. (From Cheryl LeBlanc, M.S., Curator, Rinard Orchid Greenhouse, Department of Biology).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:
The Muncie Food Hub Partnership (MFHP), created Dr. Joshua Gruver and Ms. Elaine Vidal (M.S.), has organized and held five annual Local Food Summits for the Ball State community and residents of East Central Indiana since 2018. The five Summit’s have engaged over 600 participants. Students working with MFHP and taking NREM 490/590 – Sustainable Food Systems, help to plan the day and lead some of the sessions and talks. Participants come for the day and experience locally sourced food products for breakfast and lunch, prepared by a chef. Throughout the morning, speakers engage participants with sustainable food system relevant information and campus and local food/farming organizations report on relevant projects they are working on. During the lunch hour, local legislatures give updates from the state house and senate on relevant food/ag bills and/or actions being discussed in the legislature. The afternoons have concurrent conference sessions where attendees can participate in workshops, brainstorming sessions, and work groups all related to food system sustainability. A local brewery serves beer (made from local ingredients) at the end of the day Reflection Happy Hour. (From Dr. Josh Gruver, Associate Professor, Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources Department). The Muncie Food Hub Partnership seeks to nourish and strengthen the Muncie community through the robust exchange of fresh, affordable local food. MFHP manifests that investment in East Central Indiana food production through business development, education, and civic engagement. The food hub’s specific objectives are to expand markets for local growers, increase community-wide availability of fresh, affordable, local foods, provide the next generation of students with critical training in food systems skills, and boost economic development and prosperity through job creation and exchange of goods in the East Central Indiana (ECI) region. MFHP promotes sustainable agriculture, sustainable food systems, rethinking the way we grow, aggregate, and distribute food to: 1) support growers who are farming sustainably, 2) support a food resilient community, 3) connect growers to communities/residents in need, and 4) develop a regional food policy that will synchronize complimentary food and health related strategies for Muncie and East Central Indiana. The MFHP has engaged approximately 500 Ball State students during since its inception. This is through summer and fall employment and semester long courses that focus on sustainable ag and food systems (NREM 490/590). MFHP has engaged with residents in the community through multiple educational events. MFHP has garnered $425,000 in funding from the university, local foundations, the local Hospital/Health Systems, and the federal government to continue to operate and provide low cost, healthy and nutritious food to residents of East Central Indiana, particularly residents living in low income and low food access areas. (From Dr. Josh Gruver, Associate Professor, Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources Department).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:
A group of interdisciplinary Ball State faculty and graduate/undergraduate students (from Natural Resources, Geology, and Political Science departments) are conducting climate related research in Sagarmatha National Park (SNP), the foothills of Mt. Everest, Nepal. Their work has been funded by Geoscientists without Borders and addresses the impacts of climate change on drinking water availability in the region. The majority of the residents living in the SNP get their drinking water from snow and glacier melt in the high Himalayas. Unprecedented warming in high mountain areas has significantly reduced levels of snowpack and contributed to rapid glacier melting. Because of this, several villages run out of drinking water during the dry seasons. This, combined with an increasing tourist population and complete lack of human waste management infrastructure puts people’s health and well-being at significant risk. This research uses Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) equipment - to look for pockets of groundwater deep underground as a drinking water alternative to snow and glacier melt. ERT equipment is bulky, sensitive, and takes significant time to learn and work with. The research group uses both on-campus locations and Ball State field station properties to test and practice with the ERT equipment for a semester before taking it into the field in Nepal. Graduate students (Chase Cobb and Emily Hayes) were responsible for running and managing all testing, practice, and field ERT operations. Results from the ERT study have been presented at several academic conferences and the team is in the process of developing a manuscript for publication in the Journal of Applied Geophysics or related journal. The team made an inaugural trip in 2022 and is set to return for further studies in May 2023. Drs. Nicholson, Neumann, Gruver, Han, Hall, and Nishikawa are the faculty involved in this project and several graduate and undergraduate students from multiple departments and Kathmandu University. (From Dr. Josh Gruver, Associate Professor, Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources Department).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:
The Alley House is Ball State’s entry for the 2023 Solar Decathlon Build Challenge sponsored by the US Department of Energy. Student teams from around the world compete by designing and helping to construct a net-zero energy home that meets 10 sets of criteria. The goal is to prepare students for careers designing low-impact buildings and to use student-led creative problem solving to catalyze the building industry to higher levels of sustainability. Ball State has involved over 100 students in the Alley House project over the past 4 semesters. Students have engaged directly with a host of community and industry partners to design a net-zero energy duplex home that achieves high levels of energy efficiency; provides optimal conditions for occupant health and wellbeing; and helps to satisfy a need for safe and affordable housing for non-nuclear, low-income families in Indianapolis. The majority of the home construction took place on the Ball State campus and in MadJax in Muncie, which is managed by Ball State University in collaboration with several community partners. The student team designed and constructed the cabinetry in the home, which helped them to understand the environmental implications of material selection. In addition, students worked with manufacturers and local contractors to select high performance HVAC and solar energy systems that meet the stringent standards of the competition and satisfy budget and construction schedule constraints. The team created the project goals and set the benchmarks for performance, designed a house to meet those goals, tested the finished house to validate that goals were met, and even submitted the project for 3rd party green building certification. Finally, the Alley House represents a model for green building in Indiana and the student team will be involved in sharing and showcasing the outcomes with a wide range of visitors through a two-week exhibit. (from Dr. Tom Collins, faculty, College of Architecture and Planning).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Energy:
In 2021, Ball State students in the energy assessment project worked with ecoREHAB, a community partner. Fifty students in the Interior Design and Construction Management programs learned home energy assessment tools to analyze and evaluate energy consumption in five Muncie residences. Students engaged in a student research-based program, students’ understanding of home energy assessment, and curriculum development. This project helped in general understanding of building energy and solved a community challenge of home energy consumption. Students in the environmental systems classes in ECAP routinely tour the following buildings to see and monitor firsthand the intricacies of energy conversion, distribution and use: • Bracken Library penthouse – large scale air handling • District Energy Station North – Heat Pump Chillers and Computer screen management • District Energy Station South – Abandoned Chain-Grate Coal-fired boilers • College of Health – Lobby display of real-time solar energy production from rooftop PV • Foundational Science Building site design for passive storm water management (From Bob Koester, Director of the Center for Energy Research, Education and Service and Professor of Architecture).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Food & Dining:
Allegre, a student-run restaurant on campus, provides hospitality and food management majors the opportunity to use and learn more about systems that arrange for leftover food stuffs to be donated to local food pantries and homeless shelters in Muncie. Students, who choose to work in restaurants or catering operations, can continue to donate leftover food to shelters. This is a good practice no matter what kind of a food operation future graduates might work for. In 2022, Ms. Christiana Mann (Director of Allegre) partnered with Dr. Josh Gruver and the Muncie Food Hub Partnership to provide 250 free hot meals to residents in low income and low food access areas of Muncie. Food items were sourced locally from area growers and the BSU Hospitality students prepared the meals and delivered them to a community center under the direction of Ms. Mann and Dr. Gruver. This happened twice in 2022, once during the Thanksgiving holiday and once during the Christmas Holiday. Both occasions were marked by celebration, community education, and live music as people enjoyed the food. (From Dr. Josh Gruver, Associate Professor, Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources Department). Since 2000, Dining Services, which employs approximately 700 students and involves students in all of its operational sustainability activities, donates wholesome leftovers and foods to local services on behalf of Ball State University. These are leftovers and foods that Dining Services may no longer serve customers due to state laws prohibiting additional storage time and/or exceeding four hours under heat. This window of opportunity allows BSU Dining Services to donate to specific local nonprofits, reduce waste sent to landfills and responsibly manage the resources of Ball State. The program currently benefits Muncie Mission, A Better Way, Yorktown Reach and campus-based Cardinal Kitchen. The work opportunity exposes students to a variety of sustainability measures that they can apply in their everyday lives. (From Karen Adkins, director of dining and dining initiatives, and dining’s representative on the Ball State Council on the Environment)

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Grounds:
Student employees help with mapping and data collection using mapping software (e.g. ESRI ArcMap, ArcPad and Collector App, as well as ArcGIS Online) for Ball State properties under the management of the Field Station and Environmental Education Center: Ginn Woods, Cooper Farm (prairie and woods), Skinner Field Area (woods), Christy Woods, Miller Wildlife Area and Hults Environmental Learning Center. Data on the properties are used to manage invasive plants and to inventory trees and other features that need to be tracked. The students also use a UAV (drone) to create ortho-rectified aerial imagery for baseline data on prairie manipulations (seed addition), which will be incorporated into future field maps. Students employed will do similar work in their future careers. (From John, Taylor, land manager for the Field Station and Environmental Education Center). The Field Station and Environmental Education Center sponsors an annual soil judging competition on Cooper Farm and Hults Environmental Learning Center. Students practice in soil pits located at Cooper Farm and Hults Environmental Learning Center. One of the lead students in the project is employed at the Field Station and Environmental Education Center. The student employed will do similar work in his/her future career. (From John, Taylor, land manager for the Field Station and Environmental Education Center).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:
Allegre, a student-run on-campus restaurant utilizes local business vendors for purchases, such as regional produce vendor Piazza Produce (Indy), Muncie sources for meat (Lahody’s and Fisher Meats) and Spangler Farms. Piazza provides the ability to source locally grown produce and products when season and availability permits. Allegre faculty and students are in collaborative discussion with the Muncie Food Hub Partnership (a Ball State project to source locally grown fresh produce from area farmers and to provide these products to other organizations in the area, especially focusing on residents in low income and low food access areas) to supply produce for Allegre operations. Students, who choose to work in restaurants that locally source their food or grow their own food, experience the systems they’ll consider when working or operating their own restaurants. Such projects make the on-campus, student-run restaurant more sustainable. (From Christiana Mann, lecturer, hospitality and food management program, Department of Management, Miller College of Business)

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:
Students in HOSP 101, 110, 220, 400 and 475 courses have been packaging, labeling and distributing food/meals that come from prepared meals made in the labs reducing significant food waste. All items have been prepped, stored and transported in a safe and secure way- meeting health regulations. Items are given to food insecure populations in Muncie. Partners include, but are not limited to: Common Market, Avondale/Thomas Park neighborhood, and the Soup Kitchen of Muncie. Food items come from approved vendors, e.g., donations from the Food Hub, Blood and Fire Ministries and Second Harvest. (From Christiana Mann, lecturer, hospitality and food management program, Department of Management, Miller College of Business) Dr. Robin Blom advised student Andrew Barajas (undergraduate, honors thesis) to examine food-waste composting procedures at universities belonging to the Mid-American Conference. Preliminary assessment analyzed self-reported data from participating universities using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Interviews with individuals from five Mid-American Conference (MAC) universities were conducted to better understand the challenges and benefits of starting and maintaining such a program. The thesis utilized established environmental research to explain the process of composting while highlighting its value in regard to sustainability. The goal of this thesis was to facilitate easily digestible comparison between MAC schools in order to make recommendations about improving Ball State University’s sustainable practices on campus. (From Robin Blom, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication and the Unified Research Lab (URL) Director).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:
Ball State University is located within the White, Illinois, Ohio, and Wabash River watersheds. Dr. Bangshuai Han and master’s student Shahin Alam conducted a study regarding water quality degradation in the White River watershed of Indiana. As a consequence of long-term inputs of industrial and domestic effluents, and urban and agricultural runoff, the White River has been adversely affected. Some major on-going concerns include excess nutrients, organic compounds, and salinity. Water quality degradation effects extend beyond the local scale, as the White River is a headwater stream and drains into the Mississippi River. Water quality issues become more complex with changing climate, which shifts streamflow regime and water quality. Several articles were published from this research project including this 2020 publication in H2Open Journal, “Nitrate and biochemical oxygen demand change in a typical Midwest stream in the past two decades.” (From Dr. Bangshuai Han, Associate Professor, Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources Department). Dr. Mark Pyron, the George and Frances Ball Endowed Chair in Environmental Sciences in the Department of Biology, and his graduate students examine conservation efforts for the Illinois and Ohio rivers and suggests potential steps for protecting and conserving the Wabash River that could be applied to other large river ecosystems. Dr. Pyron’s study will help to restore the Wabash River to its preindustrial state by using a toolbox of modern conservation applications that would serve as an example for states and even some nations to fix their large waterways, This work, “Conservation potential of North American large rivers: the Wabash River compared with the Ohio and Illinois rivers,” was published in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences on June 3, 2020. (From Dr. Mark Pyron, Professor, Biology Department).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:
Margaret Lo will join Ball State University as chief sustainability officer, effective March 6, 2023. Two students (undergraduate and graduate) were part of the search committee – helping to select candidates and participating in the interview process. The student’s participation in this effort allowed them to be a part of a unique hiring process, giving them insight into how the University functions – including continued planning and coordination around sustainability efforts. In this newly created position, Ms. Lo will be responsible for implementing a University-wide centralized sustainability organizational structure, focusing on educating, nurturing, and promoting sustained collaboration across all academic and operational units. Academic Affairs also created a position for a sustainability fellow to coordinate with and support the chief sustainability officer. The faculty fellow is currently engaging students and faculty about ways to integrate sustainability concepts into their research and teaching efforts. The fellow will continue to do this in 2023 through workshops and a faculty learning community. (From Alan Finn, Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer). The Sustainability Undergraduate Degree, Graduate Certificate and Graduate Degree Task Force has been in existence since 2010. Each semester the task force has been existence, usually two students have been involved in the discussion and evaluation of content for the new sustainability degrees at Ball State. Students’ participation on this task force allows them to witness the process of creating a new program and will enhance their understanding of committee work and the challenges of doing something that hasn’t been done before. From Robert Koester, director of the Ball State Center of Energy Research, Education and Service; professor, Department of Architecture; and chairman, Ball State Council on the Environment. The Ball State Council on the Environment has existed since the spring of 2001. Throughout its history, the council is comprised of representation from each of the university’s academic colleges, vice presidential areas, as well and the student body and Muncie representatives. There are two representatives from the Ball State Student Government Association and a representative from the Ball State Energy Action Team who serve on the council, which usually meets monthly during the school year. The students who serve on the council make reports about their areas and listen to other areas reports regarding what is going on in the way of sustainability activities on campus, as well as vote on sustainability-focused resolutions presented to the council for the betterment of Ball State. They are also welcome to bring resolutions to the council for a vote. Students who serve on the council meet and work with the sustainability leaders for Ball State. From Sheryl Swingley, instructor, Journalism, and representative from the College of Communication, Information, and Media on the Ball State Council on the Environment

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
Ball State’s Multicultural Center opened in 2021. The new 10,500 square-foot center is located in the heart of campus. Its mission aims to support Ball State University’s commitment to cultural diversity. The center’s goals in order to advance cultural diversity are to: - Serve as a resource for the recruitment, retention, and enrichment of students of color - Promote multicultural understanding through opportunities for cross-cultural connections - Provide programs and services to address the co-curricular needs of all students - Celebrate the historical contributions of diverse groups Students can be paired with a mentor in the REACH (Retain, Engage, Aspire, Connect, Help) program which helps first generation students and students of color adjust to the academic, social, personal, and professional challenges in college. Students can join the Summer Bridge program or the 1 credit EDHI 303 for that mentorship opportunity in the fall semester. Additionally, student can also participate in the Leadership for Social Change class, EDHI 401, during the spring semester to understand how activism and community engagement influences the students’ leadership style. The center brings together students of different genders, races, and ethnicities to discuss social and racial issues. The center also serves as a place for students to socialize, study, and hold meetings and workshops. There are spaces for students to relax and study. There is a multipurpose room for students, faculty, and staff to use for events. The center has an outdoor patio space, a café, a library, and features student art work. (From Gabrielle Lloyd, Director of Multicultural Center, and Ball State News).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
The student farm, which is a project of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management and located on university property, the Juanita Hults Environmental Learning Center in Albany, Indiana, was started with a university foundation Discovery grant in May 2016. Knowledge of how a program is funded allows students to understand budgeting for projects. In 2022-2023, new funding from the USDA will help integrate growing activities on the farm and healthy, fresh produce distribution with the Muncie Food Hub Project. The Muncie Food Hub Project was funded in 2015 and started operations in 2018 and each year the University affiliated organization helps to expand markets for local growers, increases community-wide availability of fresh, affordable, local foods, provides the next generation of students with critical training in food systems skills, and boosts economic development and prosperity through job creation and exchange of goods in the East Central Indiana region. Using the new grant funds, students will play an integral role in planning the growing season’s activities. This is a community engagement/service learning experience for Ball State students. Students will take two related courses: Sustainable Agriculture (to learn sustainable farming concepts and plant, care for, and harvest fresh produce) and Sustainable Food Systems (to learn about sustainable food system concepts and to help prep produce items for sale through the operation of a Mobile Farmers Market that targets low food access areas of the community). (From Sheryl Swingley, lecturer, Department of Journalism and Dr. Joshua Gruver, Associate Professor, Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources Department).

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
Graduate students in the Counseling Psychology, Social Psychology, and Counseling (CPSY) 644 Practicum in Counseling and CPSY 646 Advanced Practicum in Counseling classes lead two weekly workshops as part of Ball State’s Working Well program, which is open to all employees. Students lead the university’s weekly mindfulness meditation time as well as a weekly self-care workshop that covers topics such as strengths, grief, meditation, burnout, self-advocacy, and other well-being topics. Dr. Stefanía Ægisdóttir advised master’s student Edward Craig on his 2021 thesis titled “The Link between Food and Well-being Explored.” The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between food and well-being. It was expected that food based on a Mediterranean diet would positively predict psychological well-being. To test these hypotheses 69 participants were administered a survey exploring their dietary patterns in the past 24 hours in nine domains: red meat, fish, chicken, green vegetables, legumes, fruits, sweets, whole grains, and cheese and two well-being questionnaires: The Orientations to Happiness Questionnaire and Ryff’s Psychological Well-being scale to assess hedonic and eudaimonic well-being respectively. Two multiple regressions were run to test the hypotheses about the positive link between diet and well-being, as well as two alternative regressions using data from 48 participants who indicated that the food they ate in the past 24-hours were indicative of their normal diet. Results of the analyses did not support the hypotheses, that is, food intake did neither predict hedonic nor eudaimonic well-being. It is highly conceivable that lack of significant result may be due to low sample size and therefore low power. (From Dr. Stefanía Ægisdóttir, Associate Professor, Department of Counseling Psychology, Social Psychology, and Counseling).

Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
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