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

STARS v2.2

George Washington University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Kimberly Williams
Not available at this time
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:

• Net Impact - Net Impact’s mission is to improve the world by growing and strengthening a network of new leaders who are using the power of business to make a positive net social, environmental, and economic impact.

• Environmental Law Association - ELA is a student-run organization that works to bring together law students interested in environmental protection and provide educational, career, and networking opportunities in the practice of environmental law. http://docs.law.gwu.edu/stdg/ela/.

• GroW Community – The GroW Community is a GW student organization founded the spring semester of 2009 to restore the environment, promote community, build relationships, and pursue justice through food. The GroW Community partnered with the Office of Sustainability to launch the first on-campus community garden in fall 2009.

• Sustainable Urban Planning Student Organization: SUPSO engages GWU, the District of Columbia and the global community through advocacy and outreach to advance the overall field of sustainable urban planning.

• Sunrise GW: Sunrise GW's ultimate goal is the complete divestment of GW's endowment from 200 companies that own the world's economically recoverable fossil fuel reserves. They advocate for the design and implementation of a reinvestment strategy that will replace fossil fuel investments with investments in the green economy. They work with the national Sunrise Movement to share strategies and resources.

• Engineers Without Borders: Engineers Without Borders USA builds a better world through engineering projects that empower communities to meet their basic human needs and equip leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.

• The George Washington Humanitarian Mapping Society: GWHMS's purpose is to support international development, and international disaster preparation/response efforts through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

• The mission of the George Washington University Student Association is to further the interests and promote the welfare of all students at GW. Their responsibilities are defined in four ways: to advocate, allocate, advertise, and assist. Sustainability is a priority issue for the Student Association, who helped initiate the creation of a Sustainable Investment Fund.

• POP! Thrift: POP! is dedicated to promoting circularity through sustainable fashion.

• Surfrider Foundation GW: GW Surfrider is associated with the national nonprofit the Surfrider Foundation. The GW Chapter works to raise awareness and take action to address plastic pollution in the oceans.

• Take Back the Tap GW: Take Back the Tap is a campaign of the national nonprofit organization Food and Water Watch. The students at GW are working to raise awareness and promote access to clean and safe tap water over bottled water on campus.

• Environmental Justice Action Network is dedicated to advancing and bringing awareness to the field of Environmental Justice.

• GW TRAiLS stands for ""Teaching Recreation and Adventure incorporating Leadership and Service."" They are a group of students serving the GW community by planning and leading outdoor adventure trips throughout the year. As a departmental organization in the CSE, GW TRAiLS is a private, non-profit learning institution that is run by GW students.

• Veg Out is a community of students interested in veganism and the issues that intersect with animal agriculture. We strive to make plant-based eating more accessible to the GW community and delve into issues such as animal ethics and sustainability.

• OneWorld GW is a non-partisan environmental organization dedicated to combating climate change, building a sustainable future, and reconnecting students with the natural world. Through service and storytelling, OneWorld inspires students to Think Globally and Act Locally about our collective responsibility to care for the planet.""

All of the student groups above are student-governed, with the exception of the Student Association, which is the Student Government facilitated through the GW Center for Student Engagement.

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:

In fall 2009, GW opened its first on-campus garden: The GroW Community Garden. It was launched as a project of the student group, The Food Justice Alliance, and implemented in partnership with the GW Department of Landscape Design and the GW Office of Sustainability. The Food Justice Alliance was founded in spring 2009 to ""restore the environment, promote community, build relationships, and pursue justice through food"". The garden was the recipient of a Fulbright Grant for Eco-Leadership and the funds were used to enhance and expand the garden.

In Fall 2011, the garden received a $20,000 award from a contest put on by Nature's Path to fund expansion and enhancement in the space. Each year since then, 500 - 1000+ pounds of food from the garden are donated to a local soup kitchen, Miriam's Kitchen.

Since Fall 2013, the GroW Garden has been collaborating monthly with the neighborhood Farmers' Market to promote the garden and the benefits of urban gardening at the market. At Farmers' Markets in Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle, students can pay with their GW meal program dollars. Students can also use those funds to purchase tokens that are accepted by eight other Farmers' Market locations across the city.

The GroW Garden team also facilitates Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) shares for students, distributed through Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. Shares are delivered for pick-up weekly, and students participating in the CSA share program can pay with their university meal program dollars.

The garden is organic and the student gardeners consistently seek out local vendors who can provide them with pesticide-free soil, mulch and compost.

The Office of Sustainability funds a garden manager student intern position to maintain the space and coordinate student and community involvement with the garden. The initiative is not student-governed, rather is it supervised by the Office of Sustainability. However, the student group GroW Community, who were critical in making the garden a reality, is student-governed, and most of the student Garden Managers are also part of this student organization.

Since December 2017, the GW Student Association has partnered with Hungry Harvest, an organization that takes leftover or unwanted produce that couldn’t be shelved at a supermarket, and sells it for a discounted price. The goal of this program is to help provide healthy, sustainable foods at an affordable price for the GW student body on campus.

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:

GW provides institutional support for student-run sustainable enterprises through several programs across the university.

GWupstart is GW's central hub for social innovation training, mentoring, and funding. Based in the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, it builds on GW’s strength as an institution that fosters the next generation of citizen leaders. It provides the know-how and support to students to turn their ideas into practical action that makes a measurable, sustained difference.

The DC Climathon at GW provides student and citizen innovators with the financial resources, mentors, and support to launch ideas that address sustainability and climate change in the District of Columbia. Past winners include a small business that creates green jobs while refurbishing appliances for the deaf community, a start-up to recover and transport leftover meals to the hungry through crowd sourcing, a furniture company that reclaims and redesigns old items into new furnishings, a low-tech communication device to help vulnerable populations communicate during weather related disasters, a green job training program on new building technologies, a food truck with fresh produce in grocery scarce neighborhoods, and a start up that repurposes textile waste to create weighted blankets that address anxiety.

The GW New Venture 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. Monetary awards are given to the best student business plans. Students access experts in social and sustainability start-ups as mentors during their preparation for the New Venture Competition. Past winners have included a local farming hydroponic start-up, a producer that grows tea ethically on rooftops in internationally developing communities, clean water for gardeners, and a water desalination company.

The annual Pitch George competition is one of GW's premier entrepreneurial initiatives organized by the GW Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence (CFEE). This """"elevator pitch"""" competition takes place each fall semester and allows young entrepreneurs from any GW school to present their business ideas, get valuable feedback on the viability of their business concepts, and win up to $10,000 in startup capital. The competition offers a real-world view into entrepreneurship and hands-on preparation for the GW New Venture Competition (ranked #1 in the USA) through the support of GW's academia and network of business executives from the greater Washington, D.C. area.

The AccelerateGW program provides $3,000 grants to entrepreneurial GW students and faculty in science and engineering to move their projects from the lab toward commercialization. GW students are incubating projects related to building energy efficiency as well as solar-powered self-charging batteries.

GW supports its researchers and their student teams in participating in the National Science Foundation I-Corps Program. Through I-Corps GW provides research infrastructure and training that help researchers and their students transition fundamental science and engineering discoveries to the marketplace. Resulting projects at GW have focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy technology start-ups, as well as others.

The Store is a student-run food pantry at the George Washington University (GW) that is managed by the Store student organization and the Center for Student Engagement, providing resources and support for students living with food insecurity. Awareness of this need has increased on college campuses as students make hard choices about how to spend their limited resources. The Store was founded on the principles of Faith, Trust, and Respect and these values guide the Store's work. The mission is to address student need at GW by offering food and other resources to ensure that every student has the opportunity to succeed.

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 Committee for Sustainable Investment was approved and announced in February 2018, beginning with an initial investment of $2 million. Its members, which include students, will seek to guide responsible investments aligned with positive social and environmental impact.

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:

GW hosts many events throughout the year related to sustainability. GW's location in Washington, DC, gives the university ample access to key decision makers and policymakers at the Federal and local level, and GW views itself as a vital convener on sustainability issues in the District. GW has recently hosted events including:

- GW Planet Forward Storyfest recognize the best and most compelling student-told stories illuminating environmental issues and solutions. The winning submissions are part of a two day symposium for students from GW and other Planet Forward Consortium members.

- Earth Day Activities: Each year, GW hosts a series of student-focused events designed around a theme during Earth Month. The month of events culminates in an Earth Day Fair on Earth Day itself, where student organizations, local businesses, and local community groups come together to promote their programs and celebrate the Earth. In 2022, the theme of Earth Month was GW's Past Plastic campaign, when students were encouraged to reduce their use of single-use plastics by switching from bottled water to a reusable water bottle.

-GW partners with Casey Trees to conduct tree plantings and inventories all over the DC area, especially in our neighborhood of Foggy Bottom in downtown Washington, D.C. These events cater to staff, faculty and students.

- GW hosts an annual Diversity Summit, and made a commitment to putting sustainability into practice at the event as a way to educate students, faculty, and staff on the intersection between equity and sustainability.

- GW has hosted events to raise awareness and foster discussion amongst students on sustainabilty in the community including a seminar on the intersection between immigration, labor, and food systems with Chef Jose Andres and Dolores Huerta https://gwtoday.gwu.edu/dolores-huerta-%E2%80%98we-all-have-become-organizers%E2%80%99, the 2019 Planet Forward summit bringing students, scientists, innovators, and policy makers together to discuss making an impact on sustainability through storytelling https://www.facebook.com/planetforward.org/videos/1871628239610186/, and the Green Move Out, an initiative which donates items like bedding, clothing, and books to local charity partners that would otherwise be sent to the landfill https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiEi-SI2-zYAhXCnOAKHb1jD-cQFggqMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fliving.gwu.edu%2Fgreen-move-out&usg=AOvVaw28mckVQE7sDc8WSyntjaEQ.

-The Office of Sustainability serves as a liaison between university leadership and student activists like those in the student group GW Sunrise, which regularly holds events to call on the University to divest from fossil fuels.

This is just a sample of recent GW sustainability events. Many students take part in the planning and organizing of these events, as well as participate in the programs. GW is committed to holding outreach events and convening thought leaders 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:

Professor Tara Scully and Innovation Center Director Erica Wortham launched a partnership with the Kennedy Center in 2022 to use discarded plastic bottles as material for a sculpture installation created by GW students. Entitled ""Shape of Water,"" the project explores the use of waste material as a medium for art.

In October 2022, the GW Office of Sustainability hosted its first ever Reuse, Repair, Renew Fair (REFair) to engage campus stakeholders on ways to creatively and meaningfully reduce the impact of the material things in our life. Part of thi event was an exhibit presented by the Corcoran College of Art and Design which featured a number of art projects produced exclusively with found and reclaimed materials.

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:

The Mission of GW TRAiLS is to provide the GW community with diverse outdoor experiences that promote leadership, self discovery, respect for the environment, and community service. Through these principles and actions, TRAiLS strives to foster an active outdoor community at GW that benefits our lives, our city, and our world. TRAiLS strives to be environmentally-friendly and to leave as little of an impact as possible on trips using the Leave No Trace philosophy. This is done through considering the environment in waste disposal, campfire impact, leaving what is found, and respecting wildlife. TRAiLS is a student-governed organization.

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:

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:

GW provides sustainable features as part of the model residence hall rooms that all prospective students visit during their summer campus orientation. These features include sustainable cleaning products, reusable mugs, water bottles, bags, a drying rack, shower timer, smart power strips, a water filtration pitcher, and more. These features were provided as part of the collaboration between GW Housing and the Office of Sustainability.

GW's student Eco Reps engage student residents in a number of ways to encourage sustainable living, including hosting events in the residence halls on sustainable topics, going room-to-room for recycling ""dorm storming,"" and encouraging students to reduce electricity and water use as part of GW's Eco-Challenge.

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

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

The Sustainability Academic Program Director works closely with the staff in the Career Center to provide students with career resources, career preparation workshops, and career and alumni networking events for sustainability students. In addition, Office of Sustainability regularly promotes external positions on the sustainability website. The university regularly maintains student sustainability positions within the Office of Sustainability, Business and Auxilery Services, and Facilities Planning Construction and Management.

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):

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

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Additional URLS:

Information about the student-run enterprises is available

Other student run enterprise emails:

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.