Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.87
Liaison Lindsay Batchelor
Submission Date Jan. 5, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

North Carolina State University
IN-4: Innovation 4

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Tracy Dixon
Sustainability Director
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Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
High Impact Student Engagement in Sustainability

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. Research has shown that high-impact educational experiences complement classroom learning, increase student retention and engagement, and maximize the collegiate experience. NC State University has created programming that couples sustainability with high-impact educational practices, resulting in greater integration of sustainability into the cumulative student learning experience.

On a campus where more than 60 percent of incoming students report that the university’s sustainability commitment was a factor in their decision to attend NC State, the University Sustainability Office and its partners seek to provide high-impact educational experiences that integrate sustainability. The goals of this project are to infuse sustainability into student learning beyond the classroom, work in partnership with multiple university departments, academic colleges and community organizations, and advance student exploration of systems-thinking and multiple aspects of sustainability.

A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

NC State sustainability's high-impact activities strategy has resulted in positive student outcomes as well as a number of other benefits for campus sustainability programs.

The Sustainability Office, which tracks its active sustainability-related partnerships on campus, connected with 162 campus organizations, departments and centers last year, demonstrating how several years worth of high-impact activities are spreading sustainability’s reach within the university. These partnerships create an ever-growing network of campus sustainability champions that have successfully demonstrated multiple aspects of sustainability, from improving energy efficiency to advancing micro-entrepreneurship in an international country.

Students outcomes include gaining hands-on career experience while also learning about sustainability. For example, all the students in the LEED Laboratory course now have real-world experience in improving sustainability of buildings. Among the NC State Stewards (student sustainability ambassadors), the application process is becoming increasingly competitive as more and more students apply to be part of this high-impact student group. In the 2014-2015 academic year, the NC State Stewards impacted campus by hosting 24 sustainability-related educational sessions, saving $9,000 in one month from facilitating residence hall energy competitions, recycling nearly 4,500 plastics bags through a new plastic bag recycling program and presenting a 2-year plastic bag phase-out plan to university leadership.They also hosted a series Do-It-Yourself (DIY) workshops that reuse common materials to create new items, created a GIS-mapped campus plant walks, and were awarded a nearly $30,000 grant to build an outdoor shade structure featuring solar energy.

NC State’s sustainability-focused high-impact activities have also increased sustainability outreach in the past year such as a 17% increase in the number of Earth Month event offerings, a 59% increase in number of campus events at which sustainability information was available, and a 44% increase in the number of event in which Sustainability Office or NC State Stewards were involved in the planning. In addition, 40 students worked with the Sustainability Office (only 4 of these are paid internships) and an additional 211 people volunteered at a sustainability-related event or program. There has also been an increased interest in sustainability-related news. More than 52,000 users visited the university’s sustainability websites, an increase of nearly 30% over last year. Collectively, followers on NC State sustainability social media have topped 6,000 with a 33% increase on Twitter and a 15% increase on Facebook. Also, the weekly sustainability e-newsletter boasts more than 3,300 subscribers, up 15% from last year, and a 37% average open rate, which is far above the average industry open rate.

Last but certainly not least are dozens of testimonials from students who have been impacted by sustainability-related high-impact activities. While their experiences cannot be adequately described in numbers, student transformation is undeniably the most significant outcome of NC State’s sustainability high-impact activities.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research No
Campus Engagement Yes
Public Engagement No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy Yes
Grounds No
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste Yes
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

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