Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 79.77
Liaison Josh Lasky
Submission Date April 4, 2023

STARS v2.2

George Washington University
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Robert Orttung
Director of Research
Sustainable GW
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the student sustainability research program:

The GW Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships: This office seeks to enhance independent student research or student research with faculty. GW undergraduate students have a number of opportunities to apply for research funding, including the GW Sustainability Scholars Award ($5000 for undergraduate research), GW Undergraduate Research Award, the Luther Rice Undergraduate Fellowship, and the Sigelman Undergraduate Research Enhancement Award. The Center also offers advising and resources to students seeking to develop funding proposals and report on their work. Many projects funded through this office focus on sustainability.

Eco-Equity Challenge: In 2014, the Office of Sustainability and the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service established a new grant opportunity - the Eco-Equity Challenge - to enable GW students to address environmental and social justice issues in order to fulfill the needs of communities in the Washington, D.C. region. The grant came as part of the ongoing collaboration between GW and the Siemens Corporation, and is part of their joint commitment to environmental and social sustainability. In the past grant cycles, the grant has funded many research-based projects. The Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service provides students multiple opportunities to engage in community-participatory research. http://serve.gwu.edu/eco-equity-challenge

Culminating Experience for the Minor: As part of the sustainability minor, students participate in a “culminating experience” and are encouraged to engage in sustainability research under the mentorship of a GW faculty member. Two recent examples of student research: Working with the Research Director for Sustainability, one student assessed the needs for rare earth metals in generating renewable energy. Another undergraduate research project surveyed the lack of minority leadership in environmental non-profits.

Research Days: Each spring, the Office of the Vice President for Research celebrates ""Research Days,"" a two-day exhibition of undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research. Faculty and graduate students in the School of Public Health are featured on the second day of the event. On the first day, undergraduates and graduates from the other GW schools present their research in a day-long poster session. Winners are chosen from each school at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2022, the Sustainability Collaborative sponsored two special prizes for students who conducted research related to sustainability.

Planet Forward Storyfest and Correspondents: As part of the School of Media and Public Affairs, Planet Forward has a Correspondents program for students across the nation, including GW students. These students are given the opportunity to use Planet Forward as a vehicle for writing research-based articles about sustainability across the nation throughout different sectors. Planet Forward also has a Storyfest competition in which students across the nation, including all GW students in the Sustainability Reporting course, tell a story about sustainability related to the year’s various questions within the topics of food, water, energy, mobility, the built environment, and biodiversity. The grand prize winners take a trip with Lindblad Expeditions for a once-in-a-lifetime storytelling expedition aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion next summer, exploring the incredible ecosystems of Iceland.

The DC Climathon and the GW New Venture Competition: The DC Climathon is a hackathon program rooted in applied research and learning that cultivates top talent to develop the innovation pipeline for sustainability issues. Partners include the European Institute for Innovation and Technology’s Climate-KIC, GW’s School of Business Institute for Corporate Responsibility, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Honey Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. DC Climathon augments traditional educational and research offerings to develop leaders and create positive change within the local community, start-ups, and the public and private sectors. https://sustainability.gwu.edu/dc-climathon-gw Winning DC Climathon ideas move on to the GW New Venture Competition. This annual competition distributes $500,000 in cash and prizes and is considered to be one of the top 10 new venture competitions in the U.S. The competition provides GW students, faculty, and alumni with a real world educational experience in developing, testing, and launching their own startups. The competition fosters entrepreneurship at GW through workshops, mentoring, non-dilutive cash grants, in-kind prizes, networking opportunities, publicity, and concept validation. Beginning in 2014, two prizes are reserved for social entrepreneurship, one for the best for-profit idea and one for the best non-profit idea. In 2019 the first place in the social ventures competition went to Last Call, which won for a proposal distributed surplus food at restaurants to underserved communities, thereby feeding food challenged populations with meals that would otherwise go to waste. http://newventure.gwu.edu/

Does the institution have a program to encourage academic staff from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the faculty sustainability research program:

GW provides support for interdisciplinary sustainablity research through various programs. The GW Cross Disciplinary Research Fund provided Sustainable GW nearly $100,000 over two years to support research efforts addressing a range of sustainability topics. The funds supported a series of seminars bringing together faculty from across campus to discuss a range of sustainability research areas and living labs. Current work is focusing on developing community relations to improve sustainability.

The University Seminars Fund has provided approximately $4,000 for developing teams across campus to develop reserach proposals in the area of urban sustainability under the leadership of Malcolm Russel-Einhorn. The team has met with a variety of outside experts and practioners, including representatives from the C40.

Sustainable GW and its research director support GW faculty by helping put together multi-disciplinary teams to address various sustainability issues. These teams focus on our core areas of work: urban sustainability, climate and energy, and the Arctic. The research director seeks to identify funding opportunities and match them with new and on-going research projects on campus to help ensure that GW sustainability researchers have the support that they need to pursue their intellectual interests. The research director also provides assistance with all areas of research development, from identifying the research question, clarifying the hypotheses, writing the narrative, and identifying collaborators, to preparing the budget and submitting the proposal.

GW Faculty in Sustainability find support for external grants through the Office of the Vice President for Research. Working collaboratively with principal investigators and their department staff, the Sponsored Projects Administration team ensures successful submission of proposals and compliance throughout the life of the project. The Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) serves as a central resource to support the research community at GW by providing guidance and stewardship for researchers and administrators. SPA is responsible for the effective and timely handling of research proposals, as well as the preparation, interpretation, negotiation, and execution of agreements on behalf of GW for projects funded by federal and state agencies, foundations, and other public and private sources. They also draft, negotiate, and execute awards and subawards for collaborative research.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A copy of the promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

The promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

The criteria of sustained excellence required for promotion and tenure as stated in the Faculty Code language approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2019 is the standard for promotion and tenure. Specifically, it states that promotion and tenure decisions should be for those who “achieved excellence in their disciplines through their contributions to research, scholarship, or creative work in the arts (hereinafter scholarship), teaching, and engagement in service, and who demonstrate the potential to continue to do so, so that the university may advance its mission of scholarship, higher education, and service to the community.” It is incumbent that Schools and Departments putting candidates up for tenure or promotion demonstrate that the candidate has met this standard. The preparation of the file, the solicitation of letters, and the decision of the faculty (either a department’s decision or the school as a whole in non-departmentalized units) should be made with the goal of assessing the candidate in terms of this excellence standard.

Sustainability is a prominent research area within GW that is both interdisciplinary and pan-university. GW consists of 10 schools and each school determines the criteria for promotion and tenure. For example, faculty allocations in GW's School of Engineering and Applied Science are made to interdisciplinary research initiatives rather than to the departments, so faculty are driving these initiatives and the faculty searches. The people hired will have departmental appointments, and the strategy around faculty hiring is driven more by those areas of opportunity that aren’t limited by departmental boundaries. The Elliott School of International Affairs specifically cites ""substantial contribution in a specific discipline or interdisciplinary field of study"" as a criterion for advancing. All of the school criteria can be found here: https://provost.gwu.edu/faculty-governance.

The GW Strategic Plan for 2020, embraces innovation through cross-disciplinary collaboration. As a major theme of the strategic plan, cross-disciplinary research and teaching is strongly supported. The strategic plan states: ""The university's commitment to cross-disciplinarity recognizes the importance of rigorous grounding in specific disciplines and the value of a broad liberal arts undergraduate education. Cross-disciplinarity builds on this foundation to foster new and exciting intellectual endeavors.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:

The GW Library provides access to all of the key sustainability books and journals either by purchasing a copy or access to electronic resources or making those resources available through a consortium of universities in the national capital area. If GW does not have direct access to a requested sustainability resource, it can provide access to that resource through inter-library loans. Deborah Bezanson, Senior Librarian for the Sciences, Engineering & Assessment, pays special attention to sustainability issues and works to ensure that GW has sufficient sustainability resources. She is in touch with key sustainability faculty to ensure that the the resources the library purchases are appropriate.

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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