Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.88
Liaison Audrey McSain
Submission Date March 20, 2023

STARS v2.2

Lehigh University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Audrey McSain
Sustainability Program Manager
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:

Engineers Without Borders, Community Growers, and Food Recovery Network are student groups whose interests are sustainability-focused or related. Their descriptions are below:

Engineers without Borders - Started in 2002, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is an international non-profit humanitarian organization that works to provide basic needs to communities in need. EWB is a multidisciplinary group of students, from all majors and programs, dedicated to learning about and tackling issues of global poverty, international development, and sustainability. Their mission is to both educate a new generation of students about global inequalities through workshops and presentations and to enable students to use this knowledge to design workable solutions to real life problems. The organization is composed of both university and professional chapters that focus on specific projects addressing issues such as providing clean water, education, sanitation, and renewable energy. EWB focuses on low cost, high impact projects.

To promote sustainability the organization partners with host communities on projects so that the communities can manage the systems autonomously in the future. The project gives students a range of experience from international relations to technical engineering skills. Today there are over 300 chapters and 12,000 members in the United States alone.

The projects EWB takes on are initiated by, and completed with, contributions from the host community working with the EWB project team. The organization has previously designed, funded, and implemented a small-scale water treatment project in Pueblo Nuevo, a village of approximately 1,500 people in northwestern Honduras.
URL: https://ewb.web.lehigh.edu/

Community Growers - Aim to take an innovative approach to community building and sustainable practices through the lens of the permaculture movement. They focus on three pillars of Permaculture, which are Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share. Permaculture emphasizes the "edge", or where two different things meet, so our focus is primarily on community building in the Southside area. We have embodied each of our pillars in this light. For earth care, we take care of 3 community gardens bordering the Southside. For people care, we have an educational program with Boys & Girls Club of Bethlehem since the summer, and, when possible, an after-school program with Broughal Middle School. During these programs, we have had the children paint bricks to label our vegetables, made zucchini pizza and pickled our own cucumbers, taught them about composting and even had them compost with us in our garden. Finally, for fair share, the majority of our yields are donated to New Bethany food pantry to help those in the community without ready access to fresh produce. We are already in talks with Lehigh's Space Committee and hope to establish an educational Permaculture garden on campus so that Lehigh students can learn about its principles as well. We operate on the philosophy that "You don't have to leave your community to live in a better one". We find that our mission is unique in that we are encouraging community building around the garden so that Southside residents and Lehigh Students alike can have a personal stake in their community as well as learn more about growing their own food, which is a significant aspect of a more sustainable lifestyle.
URL: https://lehigh.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/CLIPpermacultureinitiative

Food Recovery Network - Brings together students on college campuses to fight waste and feed people by donating the extra food from their colleges to hungry Americans. Lehigh’s Food Recovery Network Chapter recovers food put out at dining locations, but was not used. Student volunteers pick up the food from dining locations across campus and donate it to feed hungry people at two local shelters and a soup kitchen.
URL: https://lehigh.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/FRN

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:

Lehigh University has several urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and/or sustainable food systems. At present the University's South Side Initiative manages several community gardens on the South Side of Bethlehem, PA.

The gardens are located on city land and provide a space for students to work with members of the local community to grow fresh, healthy food. Currently the South Side Initiative's Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture Working Group and the Community Growers run programming out of these gardens for children from low-income families who rely on the Boys & Girls Club, as well as children from Broughal Middle School, and Big Brother, Big Sister. In these programs, university students grow, harvest, cook, and eat fresh and organically grown produce with program participants.

The Permaculture group, which created a permaculture garden next to the EcoHouse joined forces with the Community Growers Club and helped to redesign the beds in the Martin Luther King Community Garden according to permaculture principles.

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:


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 Sustainable Initiative Grant, managed by the Lehigh Sustainability Council, was created to provide financial resources to members of the Lehigh community who want to create a greener, more environmentally sustainable campus. The Sustainable Initiative Grant provides one-time mini-grants up to $2,000 for students, faculty and staff to pilot innovative solutions to Lehigh’s sustainability challenges. It accepts applications on the first of the month and applicants are required to present on their pilot at the end of the academic year.

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:

Lehigh has three different lecture series that relate to sustainability and have students as the intended audience. More info on each below.

Keystone State Environmental Histories: A Public Lecture Series
This lecture series is open to the public but have students as the intended audience. Many professors bring their classes to the lectures with the intention of diversifying students' knowledge of environmental history. Topics cover energy supply, development of hiking trail system in PA, cities and forests, and the history of Earth Day. Students are invited to eat lunch with speakers and learn more about the topic.

Energy Systems Engineering Seminar Series
The Energy Systems Seminar Series consists of a number of bi-weekly 1-hour talks by an energy expert from the industry or academia. The topics cover energy trends in key areas and new technologies. Since its inception in 2016, the topics have covered the rising role of natural gas as a reliable fuel to generate electricity and its role in transforming the energy sector, the reliance on nuclear power as a green source even as the industry struggles with abandoned new builds in the U.S., and the increasing role of distributed energy resources (DERs) -- rooftop solar, for example-- and their impact on energy choices. While the seminars are mainly intended for students, industry personnel are invited to the seminar series.
URLS: http://www.lehigh.edu/~inesei/events/seminar_series.html, https://engineering.lehigh.edu/https%3A/eventscalendar.lehigh.edu/department/energy_systems_engineering_institute/past-years/2018, https://engineering.lehigh.edu/events/current

Energy Systems Engineering Institute Distinguished Lecture Series
The focus of the DLS series is to examine in depth energy topics of current interest. This monthly seminar has in the past addressed the impact of climate change locally and means to ameliorate their effects; social and economic impacts of the state of Pennsylvania's pre-eminent position as large natural gas producer from fracking technology and the challenges of energy entrepreneurship.

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:

In Spring 2019 the Art, Architecture and Design (AAD) began a green printing program, where students can learn traditional printmaking techniques, yet free of the traditional harmful chemicals.

Trashion Show: An exhibition of clothing made entirely out of trash or recyclable materials. Students planned the event for Earth Month in April 2022, designed the clothing, and attended the show. Approximately 75-80 people attended the show.

In April 2022, the Zoellner Arts Center hosted two events about climate action. On April 9, Small Island Big Song performed. Small Island Big Song is a multi-platform project uniting the seafaring cultures of the Pacific and Indian Oceans through songs, a contemporary and relevant musical statement from a region at the frontline of the Climate Crisis.

Small Island Big Song also participated in a panel prior to the performance, called, "Climate Change: Our Response as Artists and Indigenous Women Making Traditional Cultural Relevant". The artists discussed the intersection of climate change, gender, and indigenous culture and how art can be used to make the "musical statement of a region in the frontline of cultural and environmental challenges."

On April 19, visual performance artist Matreyek performed creating an emotional, dream-like meditation on climate change.

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:

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:

As part of the first-year experience, students have the option of attending a faculty lecture during Orientation that addressed the issue of sustainability in the business field.

We also offer a 3-day pre-orientation program focused on sustainability called SustainabLEHIGH. Incoming freshmen and transfer students can jump start their education and college experience through SustainabLEHIGH, a pre-orientation experience, whose mission it is to introduce students to all facets of environmental sustainability.

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:

The Eco House is an environmentally themed community serving as a hub for people who value environmental awareness in their living space. As a close knit community sharing similar interests, the Eco House community plans to apply knowledge they have obtained from their studies to hands-on engineering projects in which they work as a team to exercise and expand upon their engineering skills to contribute to environmental awareness. Projects will include hosting campus speakers, building rockets, utilizing a solar shed and composting program, and making physical improvements to their house in order to minimize their impact on the environment. Members of the community collaborate with other campus organizations, such as Eco-Reps and Green Action, in order to engage the Lehigh community in sustainable programs.

This community existed in 2019-2020.

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

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

The Office of Sustainability provides student employment opportunities year-round to both undergraduate and graduate students. These employment opportunities are in support of achieving Lehigh's Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030 goals, creating a culture of sustainability, and providing students with skills that they can transfer to their professional careers.

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:

Some of the data above was impacted by COVID-19 (SustainabLEHIGH, campus events, etc), but for the most part the events still occurred with modifications. Lehigh returned to in-person activities in 2021-2022, therefore, we were able to use information from the last three years and add new information from 2021-2022.

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.