Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.78
Liaison Greg Farley
Submission Date Sept. 9, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

George Mason University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Giulia Manno
Outreach Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have one or more co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that fall into the following categories?:
Yes or No
Active student groups focused on sustainability Yes
Gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems Yes
Student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes No
Sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills No
Conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles Yes
Sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences Yes
Programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills Yes
Sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution Yes
Graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions No
Other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives ---

The name and a brief description of each student group focused on sustainability:

George Mason University (Mason) has several student organizations which focus on sustainability issues and others which relate to sustainability.

-Environmental Action Group - The Environmental Action Group campaigns for the protection of the environment and its inhabitants through action and education. They seek to create a diverse movement within the Mason community to make tangible improvements for a healthy planet.

-Environmental Law Society - The Environmental Law Society is dedicated to raising environmental awareness at the law school and providing a diverse range of opportunities for students interested in environmental issues. Each year, the Society brings speakers to Mason to discuss developing areas of environmental law. The organization sponsors an annual career panel discussion and assists students in locating summer jobs and internships.

-Environmental Science and Policy Graduate Students Association - The ESP-GSA is organized for the purposes of providing activities for graduate students, to foster a sense of community and increase communication within the Environmental Science and Policy department and between other departments in the College of Science.
-George Mason Model United Nations

-GMU Cycling Club - The GMU Cycling Club was founded to promote and support mountain bike and endurance cycling athletics at George Mason University.

-George Mason University Organic Garden Association- GOGA manages the Potomac Heights Vegetable Garden. They actively plan, care for, and harvest healthy vegetables and donate them to volunteers and those in need.

-Green Patriots- The Mason student Green Patriot program is a peer-to-peer outreach program designed to support Mason's Office of Sustainability and various campus sustainability initiatives.

-Mason Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter - The George Mason University Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter supports the NOVA Habitat for Humanity with fundraising and providing volunteers.

-Society of Public Health - George Mason University Society of Public Health strives to prepare students to serve the community and the world by preparing them for careers in public Health through research collaborations, conferences, seminars, and internships.

-UNICEF Campus Initiative - George Mason University's UNICEF initiative has taken on the mission to raise awareness and stop deaths in children world wide. Everyday, 21,000 children die from preventable causes. UNICEF is striving to turn that number to zero.


The website URL where information about student groups is available:
A brief description of gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems:

Adjacent to student residential halls, the George Mason University (Mason) Potomac Heights Vegetable Garden was started in April 2009 with the help from the Office of Sustainability. After a rocky start, the garden is now thriving! A large part of its success is due to a student club (George Mason University Organic Garden Association) that oversees and tends to the garden. This group is responsible for garden outreach and education within the Mason community. They are also in charge of coordinating volunteer efforts in the garden.

The garden hosts over 250 volunteers and service learning students and community members each year. Approximately 400 pounds of produce is grown each season. Half of the produce is distributed to garden volunteers and the other half is donated to local food banks as these locations frequently experience a scarcity of fresh, healthful foods.

The Innovation Food Forest (IFF) is the first of its kind for Mason’s campus and for the entire Northern Virginia region. It was designed as a result of Mason’s first Permaculture Design Certification course in 2012 by one of the course attendees. The purpose of the IFF is to engage and educate Mason and non-Mason community members on methods of food production that are low-impact and self-sustaining. It utilizes permaculture principles of water retention, companion planting, zero waste, and responsible design. All produce grown at this site is available for members of the community to try.

The Mason Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program allowed for members of the Mason community to purchase and receive a weekly share of fresh produce. The produce was grown by a local, Virginia farmer using only sustainable and environmentally friendly methods. The program continued for three years. Each week, shareholder’s vegetable boxes are delivered to a central location for pick up. The program built awareness, engagement, and community surrounding local food and eating issues.


The website URL where information about the organic agriculture and/or sustainable food systems projects and initiatives is available:
A brief description of student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes:
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The website URL where information about the student-run enterprise(s) is available:
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A brief description of the sustainable investment or finance initiatives:
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The website URL where information about the sustainable investment or finance initiatives is available:
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A brief description of conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

Earth Week 2014 which included over 40 activities and events across 3 Mason campuses, extending throughout the month of April and reaching thousands of students, faculty, staff, community members and campus visitors.

In the summers of 2011, 2013 and 2014, Mason has sponsored and held the Earth 2100 youth conference on campus. The Earth 2100 conference focuses on empowering the youth to take action on environmental issues and features speakers from the DC region.

The Mason Sustainability Institute holds workshops that are open to any and all community members wanting to learn about sustainable living skills. Workshops include learning about composting, organic gardening, energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainable foods, bicycle maintenance, and more.


The website URL where information about the event(s) is available:
A brief description of cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

This year the Office of Sustainability partnered with Mason Athletics to bring the first-ever Green Basketball Game to the Mason community. Over 7,000 students, staff, faculty, and community members attended this inaugural event. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) were purchased to offset the entire energy use of the game. Additionally, 5,000 sustainably produced t-shirts and 600 reusable bags were handed out to game attendees. Each trash bin was paired up with a compost and recycling bin as well as student volunteer who directed game attendees to recycle and compost their waste- making this a very low waste game. The main purpose of this game was to engage Mason students in sustainability-related activities and behaviors. Additionally, this event reached the largest student population at Mason with sustainability messaging.


The website URL where information about the cultural arts event(s) is available:
A brief description of wilderness or outdoors programs for students that follow Leave No Trace principles:

Mason offers a 25-credit Outdoor Recreation and Experiential Leadership Undergraduate Certificate which provides any interested individual with specialized skills unique to a variety of outdoor adventure and experiential activities, such as backpacking, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, and challenge-course facilitation. Courses offer detailed instruction on Leave No Trace principals, which are offered in many of the courses in the certificate. Mason is also working on starting a brand new outdoor education program that will incorporate sustainability themes and Leave no Trace principles.


The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors program(s) is available:
A brief description of sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

For the summer session in 2014 there was a Seminars and Special Topics in Sustainability theme. Professors were encouraged to teach sustainability related summer courses and are provided a stipend for participating.


The website URL where information about the theme is available:
A brief description of program(s) through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

Mason Sustainability Institute: Four Food Preservation workshops have been offered this past year (due to popular demand) through the MSI. The Permaculture Design Certification course is nearing its third year of courses. This course teaches members of the Mason and surrounding communities about low-impact food production, renewable energy, self-sufficient living, agro-forestry, and environmentally-responsible design.
Potomac Heights Vegetable Garden: Seed-sowing, weeding, and garden maintenance are just a few of the hands-on workshops offered by members of the GMU Organic Garden Association
Patriot Green Fund: An internal grant funding program that offers students an opportunity to serve on the committee that disperses funding. This experience offers students an opportunity to learn about sustainable operations, project management, and grant writing skills.
Green Patriot Program: A peer-to-peer educational group aimed at engaging students in sustainability-related issues both on and off campus. Some of the student-led workshops have been: green cleaning, green gifting, and eco-art.


The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills program(s) is available:
A brief description of sustainability-focused student employment opportunities:

The Office of Sustainability and Mason Dining all offer paid student internships with a specific focus on sustainability. These programs aim to help Mason become more sustainable and enrich the student experience. These paid internships help reinforce sustainability focused learning and apply it to the campus community.


The website URL where information about the student employment opportuntities is available:
A brief description of graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions:
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The website URL where information about the graduation pledge program is available:
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A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:

George Mason University has an innovative role to encourage co-curricular sustainability programs called the Fellow of Sustainability Studies. The Sustainability Studies Fellow promotes sustainability scholarship and curricula across Mason’s academic units through a two-year, half time position in the Office of the Provost.

Specific tasks include:

Developing and implementing an action plan for the Vision for Sustainability in Academic Endeavors at Mason;
Chairing the Sustainability Studies Advisory Council (SSAC) while participating in pertinent Mason-wide committees*;
Communicating current curricular efforts in sustainability;
Supporting faculty and curriculum development activities surrounding sustainability issues;
Coordinating the development of interdisciplinary sustainability research and scholarly programs;
Coordinating internal and external communications and marketing efforts regarding courses and programs in sustainability;
Assisting with integration of coursework in this area with existing and potential majors, minors, certificates, and general education; and
Working with University Life, Facilities and other Mason vice presidents’ sustainability efforts to promote co-curricular activities.


The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available:

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