Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.89
Liaison Julie Newman
Submission Date Oct. 23, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
AC-9: Research and Scholarship

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 11.42 / 12.00 MIT Office of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff that are engaged in research (headcount):

Number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff that are engaged in sustainability research (headcount):

Percentage of the institution's faculty and staff researchers that are engaged in sustainability research :

Total number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that include at least one faculty or staff member that conducts research:

Number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that include at least one faculty or staff member that conducts sustainability research:

Percentage of research-producing departments that are engaged in sustainability research:

A copy of the institution’s inventory of its sustainability research that includes names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:
The institution’s inventory of its sustainability research that includes names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:

Methodology (for the calculations in Parts 1 and 2 above)
The first step in determining the total number of faculty and academic departments involved with sustainability research was to obtain the MIT Office of Institutional Research (IR)’s set of more than 600 faculty research topic areas. These topic areas were reviewed using the same criteria deployed in the analysis of MIT sustainability-focused/inclusive classes (that is, would a faculty member pursuing this topic necessarily be engaged in investigating why and how to help society pursue pathways toward a future that was both environmentally and socially sustainable? The three critical topic areas of climate, sustainable energy (renewable/alternative sources, storage, efficiency), and ecology were also included here). o The second step was to use this subset of sustainability topic areas to review the IR list of faculty with identified research areas (“overall IR list”). The overall IR list included 860 (83%) of the 1036 ranked MIT faculty as of October 31, 2015, or 860 faculty members. 115 faculty on the overall IR list met the sustainability interest criteria. o The third step was to individually review websites of the 179 faculty who were not in the overall IR list. 44 of these faculty met the sustainability interest criteria. o Steps 1-3 were conducted in 2016. In 2017, a fourth step was conducted to (a) identify any faculty identified as sustainability-involved in 2016 who had left MIT (total: 2), and (b) review faculty who had joined MIT since the 2016 analysis (total active in sustainability research: 8). 2017 Total: 115 + 44 – 2 + 8 = 165.

For additional reference: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/sustainability/, https://environmentalsolutions.mit.edu/, https://jwafs.mit.edu/, http://ceepr.mit.edu/.

A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the research inventory (including the types of faculty and staff included as researchers):

Although MIT does not currently have a comprehensive inventory of all sustainability-related research at MIT, the Office of Sustainability has created a database for a subset of this information (“living labs,” i.e. research that uses the MIT campus as a test bed). The new database functions as a central repository for research assets such as project team members and affiliations (department/program/center/lab) and other information. The database is linked to a new tool, the DISCOVER Living Lab Web App, that includes data filters which allow users to search living labs by initiative types (Low carbon campus, resilient ecosystems, materials lifecycles, thriving networks), by sustainability topics (natural language processing creates a word cloud based on an identified primary document), outcomes (awards, dissertations, books, etc.) and duration.

The attached document includes a roster of current living labs and identifies the originating entity (school, department, program, center, lab), team members and their affiliations. Since no such tool has previously existed to collect sustainability-related research in one central location, this new data represents a baseline inventory of a particular subset (living labs) of sustainability-related research at MIT that will expand as the concept is developed, launched and evaluated in the future.

Notes on Methodology
The Living Database and Web App Tool represent the findings of an ongoing process involving feedback from faculty, staff, students, administrators and other thought partners which began in September 2016. The database design includes several dozen data points including project title, topic area, start/end dates, team diversity, affiliation, research problem/solution, latitude/longitude, outcomes and sustainable development goal tags (SDGs). For classification purposes, five general topical areas have been created and include low carbon campus, resilient ecosystems, materials lifecycles, healthy people and thriving networks.

The Living Lab database repository also includes an array of unstructured data such as images, videos, journal articles, presentations and media articles. To date MITOS has collected data from 62 identified projects that utilized the campus as a test bed for sustainability-related research during the last 12 years. This scope of projects that were studied included multi-year endeavors originated by professional research scientists, as well as shorter-term work led by graduate and undergraduate students pursued as part of academic coursework. Outcomes included journal articles, the formation of new companies, behavioral change programs, new funding, feasibilities studies and awards, among many others. The assimilation of the stakeholder inputs, current literature reviews, and data analysis led to the creation of the Urban Living Lab Learning platform; a evolving frameworks that working definitions, description of processes and typologies.

At MIT Living labs are defined as rigorous campus-based research that includes specific characteristics (idea, place, diverse partnerships, informal and formal learning, outcomes, feedback loops). Research that is either in a prototype stage, or that does not yet meet the full criteria for Living Labs are called Lablets. This term was developed to include the myriad of meritorious activities that use the campus as a test bed, but that are not considered to be robust research. The rationale for creating a new term was to be inclusive, and to clearly define what is, and what is not considered to be a living lab. However, for the purposes of this inventory, only living labs are included.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.