Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.71
Liaison Greg Kozak
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

Northwestern University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Sarah Tulga
Sustainability Program Coordinator
"---" 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:

ASG-Sustainability Committee (ASG SusCom)
The Associated Student Government Sustainability Committee (ASG SusCom) works to research, facilitate, and implement sustainability activities on campus. They aim to provide a unified, legitimate, and consistent voice from the students to the administration. They work closely with other campus groups to promote sustainability through academics, awareness campaigns, and tangible, impactful projects.

Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW)
ESW is a national nonprofit organization, with the Northwestern chapter run through the McCormick School of Engineering. The group channels the skills of engineers into sustainability projects on domestic and international levels through education, volunteer opportunities, and design projects.

Fossil Free Northwestern
Fossil Free Northwestern is a student organization that formed from a campaign of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members calling on Northwestern University to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy. In addition to fighting for a sustainable endowment, the organization advocates for climate justice and environmental justice in Chicago, nationally, and internationally through consciousness-raising and activism.

Group Residence for Environmental Engagement at Northwestern House (GREEN House)
This thematic residence houses40 students interested in living sustainably. GREEN House’s mission is to engender exploration, discovery, and critical thinking about environmental problems to inspire future leaders to act in ways that will protect and sustain our planet. (This opportunity is only open to undergraduate students living on-campus).

In Our Nature
In Our Nature aims to bring the environment to everyone as Northwestern's only environmental and science publication. Whether you’re a granola guru or a casual recycler, the stories, tips and entertainment will bring out your inner treehugger. Student contributors write, take photos, shoot video and more, all with the goal of showing readers why the environment is important for everyone.

Kellogg Energy & Sustainability Club
By cultivating and leveraging Kellogg’s relationships, the Kellogg Energy & Sustainability Club (KESC) prepares students to become global leaders in energy and sustainability. KESC promotes and represents energy and sustainability within the Kellogg and Northwestern communities by providing critical and timely resources to support careers in energy and sustainability, bringing industry thought-leaders to speak, leading sustainability initiatives on campus, and building relationships with a broad range of energy companies to support on and off-campus recruiting.

Kellogg School of Management Net Impact
Kellogg Net Impact Club’s mission is to inspire and prepare emerging leaders to use the power of business to create a more socially responsible and sustainable world.

The Northwestern Energy and Sustainability Consortium (NESC)
NESC works to encourage and facilitate communication and collaboration at Northwestern University between sustainability and energy students at the undergraduate and graduate level. They seek to increase awareness and collaboration, and encourage support among students, student groups, and the campus at large.

Northwestern Energy Technology Group (NETG)
NETG's mission is to promote informed discourse about energy issues, and to provide opportunities for collaboration both among Northwestern University students, as well as between students and external people and organizations. This is done through hosting talks and panel discussions, traveling to energy technology facilities, and organizing social events that encourage networking with other energy-related organizations.

Northwestern University Outing Club
The Outing Club's mission is to enjoy the outdoors and get people in touch with nature. They organize trips all over the northern Midwest to kayak, hike, and climb while raising awareness of how to create a sustainable planet.

Northwestern University Solar Car Team (NUsolar)
NUsolar is a student-run team that designs, builds, and races completely solar-powered vehicles. Their goals are to promote a greater understanding of sustainable transportation technologies and to provide an opportunity for students to gain real-world engineering project experience. NUsolar has built six solar racers throughout its history and travels across the nation each summer to compete with other university teams in the American Solar Challenge and Formula Sun Grand Prix solar car "races."

NU Real Food
NU Real Food works to create a student-led movement that engages administrators, faculty, staff, workers, producers, and community members to enact a shift to a community-based food system built on fair labor practices and food that is humane, local, and ecologically-sound.

NU Wildlife Club
The Wildlife Club's purpose is to create an inclusive community on campus comprised of future scientists, environmental activists, animal lovers, and any student who has a passion for wildlife and is concerned with the global biodiversity crisis. The Wildlife Club's goals are to be an advocate on campus for wildlife conservation through activism, to provide career-building opportunities in the field of conservation, to engage with the Northwestern, Evanston, and Chicago communities through discussions and citizen science projects, and build relationships between Northwestern and Chicago-based zoological research institutions.

Plant-it Purple
Plant-it Purple Graduate Gardens is a community garden located in the Technological Institute east courtyard. The garden includes a vegetable garden, flower garden, and shade garden. Plant-it Purple's goal is to create a space where students, staff, and other members of the NU community can work together outside of classrooms and offices to cultivate and enjoy a living project.

Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED)
SEED is the largest and oldest student environmental group at Northwestern. They support progressive environmental movements at NU. Through event programming, service, and advocacy, SEED seeks to engage the entire Northwestern and Evanston communities to further sustainability.

Student Physicians for Social Responsibility (SPSR)
Student Physicians for Social Responsibility is dedicated to supporting community service, advocacy, and education for environmental sustainability and anti-nuclear efforts in the context of improving health. They seek to fight for social justice by mitigating the effects of climate change, toxins, and other environmental threats to human health. SPSR promotes this by engaging students and community members through lunch talks and programs to improve sustainability practices at the Chicago Northwestern campus. They also collaborate with Physicians for Social Responsibility chapters at other Chicago medical schools.

Wild Roots
The purpose of the Wild Roots garden is to connect students to the earth and each other, to serve the evolving educational and social needs of the Northwestern community, and to inspire students to think critically about the food they eat by starting conversations about sustainability, social justice, and NU’s food system.

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:

Wild Roots
The purpose of the Wild Roots garden is to connect students to the earth and each other, to serve the evolving educational and social needs of the Northwestern community, and to inspire students to think critically about the food they eat by starting conversations about sustainability, social justice, and NU’s food system.

Plant-it Purple
Plant-it Purple Graduate Gardens is a community garden located next to the courtyard behind the Technological Institute. The garden includes a vegetable garden, flower garden, and shade garden. Plant-it Purple's goal is to create a space where students, staff, and other members of the NU community can work together outside of classrooms and offices to cultivate and enjoy a living project.

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:

Free Flow is a bike subscription service which aims to, “make long-distance unnecessary where possible, and as fast as possible when necessary.” Free Flow’s mission is to, “provide a bike subscription program that puts people in touch with community businesses, brings down the cost of cycling, gives people a means to travel sustainably, and makes communities safer.”
See more about this student-run enterprise here:

eo, a student-centered, dockless bike share that aims to increase bike ridership, creating healthy, environmentally-friendly life habits.
See more about this student-run enterprise here:

Carbon Yield is co-founded and run by a current Kellogg MBA students and aims to help farmers generate new revenue from carbon credits and overcome financial barriers to accessing organic markets. They aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farms by increasing organic farming practices. This student-run enterprise received the 9th Annual Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge award.

See more about this student-run enterprise here:

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:

Each year, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management partners with the Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing to organize and offer the Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge. The winning graduate student team receives $10,000 investment into their student enterprise. This competition is open to graduate students to submit proposals. The challenge has had applications from over 80 different graduate schools and is open to international audiences in addition to Kellogg School of Management students.

Read more about this Northwestern sponsored sustainable investment fund here:

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:

State of Sustainability:
On February 18th 2019, representatives from sustainNU, the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), Northwestern Dining, and ASG shared the status of sustainability projects on Northwestern for students. In addition to presentations, students engaged in hands-on activities to examine their own personal actions and changes they could make.


Business of Climate Change:
The Kellogg School of Management and the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) co-hosted this conference on April 12, 2019 at Northwestern University’s Evanston, IL campus.

It tackled, “the [main] challenge for businesses today ... how to integrate climate change considerations into core business processes and decisions, from market strategy and product development to operational and financial control. This event brings together thought leaders from business and policy perspectives to discuss advanced, practical solutions.”

See more about this here:

Exelon Sustainability Seminar Series Fund at Kellogg:
There are quite a few seminars and events which are funded through the Exelon Sustainability Seminar Series Fund. Examples include the above Business of Climate Change conference and the below speaker event:
VC and Cleantech: Developing New Strategies for Success:
“As the next installment of the Exelon Sustainability Seminar series, please join us in welcoming a couple of the senior members of Clean Energy Trust for an exciting discussion. They have been analyzing and working to solve the capital gap in cleantech. They will talk about the reasons why traditional venture capital and cleantech may not be well aligned and highlight strategies for addressing this problem via alternative structures.”

Fourth Annual Symposium on Water in Israel and the Middle East:
On Many 6th 2019, Northwestern Center for Water Research and the Crown Family Center co-hosted this symposium, focusing on Drought, Insecurity, and Conflict. Previous years presentations are all open access.

See the below websites for more information on this:

Symposium on Microgrids: Renewable Energy Microgrids for Sustainable Development:
Northwestern Engineering, the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO), and the Buffett Institute for Global Studies
hosted the Symposium on Microgrids: Renewable Energy Microgrids for Sustainable Development on Tuesday April 10, 2018.

More information can be found at the following websites and all talks were recorded and are open access:

Institute for Global Health Seminar Series: Global Communicable Diseases and the Sustainable Development Goals:
The Institute for Global Health Seminar Series is held the first Friday of each month, September through June, and will feature the research and ideas of outstanding global health leaders at Feinberg, the larger Northwestern community, and beyond. This is an ongoing seminar series.

Many of the speakers within the series highlight the intersections of global health and sustainability. This talk on October 4th 2019 is one example:

Northwestern Climate Change Symposium:
On November 9-10, 2017, Northwestern hosted a Climate Change Symposium, sponsored by ISEN. It was open to the entire campus community and the public. The 2017 program focused on fostering dialogues among leaders in science, business, and public policy.

To see all of the details about this program see this website:

Student groups also invite a number of speakers to the campus to speak on sustainability issues. One notable example is:
In May 2018, SEED invited Professor Jay Familglietti, director for the Global Institute for Water Security and senior water scientist NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to give a talk on water and water security.

To read more about this event see the below website:

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:

Black Poetics and Environmental Memory: A Reading and Conversation featuring Ed Roberson and Tiana Clark
On Thursday, October 31st, 2019, this event hosted two poets for poetry readings and conversation. The main question discussed during the conversation was, “Is it possible to find beauty in such landscapes knowing what has occurred there, and how might memorialization itself be an environmental act?”

This event was co-presented by the Poetry and Poetics Colloquium, African American Studies, American Cultures Colloquium, American Studies, Black Arts Initiative, Black Poetics Collective, Program in Critical Theory, Environmental Humanities Research Workshop, Environmental Policy and Culture, The Graduate School, History, Litowitz Creative Writing Program, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Kaplan Humanities Institute.

See the following website for more information:

One Earth Film Festival:
At this annual event, Northwestern University screens films addressing climate change, health & the environment, sustainable building, and environmental advocacy.
Films screened include Right to Harm (2020), Thirst for Power (2020), From the Ashes (2019), An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2018), and Death by Design (2017).

See the following website for more information:

PhilFest is hosted by the Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED) with support from other sustainability groups and A&O Productions. This free concert brings together the campus community to appreciate the environment and enjoy great music.

See the following website for more information:

Alice Millar Birthday Concert
On February 9, 2020, at 5:00pm, Stephen Alltop, conductor; Alice Millar Chapel Choir and soloists; and members of the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra performed Terra Nostra.

Terra Nostra is a major new work for soloists, choir, and orchestra by Stacy Garrop, one of the rising composers of our time. This engaging music focuses on the relationship between our planet and humankind. Cast in three sections—Part I: Creation of the World; Part II: The Rise of Humanity; and Part III: Searching for Balance—Terra Nostra explores creation myths from different cultures and examines how we can increase awareness of our planet’s plight to find a balance for living within the Earth’s resources.

See the following website for more information:

Film Series: Women at the End of the World: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
On October 17th, 2018 the The Block Museum and One Book One Northwestern hosted a film screening of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the first movie in the Women at the End of the World film series this quarter. Before the screening, Rita Rongyi Lin, a graduate student in the screen cultures program, discussed the animated film’s themes, historical context, and connection to The Handmaid’s Tale and Hayao Miyazaki’s other works. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is about a princess in a post-apocalyptic world defending her home from other kingdoms and nature itself. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, the film reflects the environmental concerns of the ‘80s by showing a bleak outlook on human’s impact on nature.

See more here:

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 Northwestern University Outing Club runs a variety of wilderness and outdoor programs which follow Leave no Trace principles. For all of their trips, especially in backcountry and areas where recycling and trash facilities are not readily available, there are leave no trace workshops prior to the trip to lay out expectations and explain the skills and practices. They have run trips for 200+ Northwestern students around hiking, camping, climbing, kayak, etc. Additionally, they host a Camp on Campus program where NU students campus on the lakefill. Prior to this event, they host a workshop for the average 30-40 people who participate in this event.

To see more information about these programs and the activities of the Northwestern University Outing Club see these websites:



In addition to the NUOC programs, Northwestern did previously run the Project Wildcat (PWild) program until 2018. Project Wildcat was a pre-orientation backpacking program that facilitates the transition into the Northwestern community for incoming students. It followed 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:

Northwestern University selected the Handmaid’s Tale for its University-wide One Book from in 2018-2019, which included a year’s worth of programming centered around the book and included themes of feminism, environmental dystopia, gender inequity, and sexual assault. As such, in addition to a rich program around the books major themes on sexual violence, feminism, power and struggle, a variety of events and resources focused on the intersection between the book’s themes and various environmental issues.

Some of these include:
English department faculty discussed Handmaid (with Julia Stern, Eula Biss, and Sarah Dimick) on May 20th. During this discussion, Sarah Dimick examined the toxic bodies within The Handmaid’s Tale, reflecting on contemporary environmentalism’s fraught relationships with population control and reproductive futurity.

Chemical Engineering department debate on the regulation of plastics and the role in environmental pollution on April 9th 2019. This debate centered around the role of environmental pollution in connection to the Handmaid’s Tale, as the book takes place in an environmental dystopia in which pollution cause plummeting fertility rates. It looked at the current environmental crisis around plastic waste within modern times.

Earth Day activities were promoted as part of the One Book Program. These activities connected students with the environmental activism and actions to demonstrate support for environmental protection, to prevent the environmental destruction represented in the book.

For full list of activities, see here:

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:

Through a variety on in-person events and online news articles coordinated by sustainNU. Examples include the Living Sustainably Fair, Earth Day events and Fair, newsletter articles, online resources.

See more here:

Additionally, there is GREEN House which is an environmental-themed living community on campus. They host a speaker series for students within the house around sustainability topics.

See more here:

Wild Roots is also another program where students can learn how to make and grow their own produce within a student-directed garden.

See more here:

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

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

Among the work study opportunities offered at Northwestern are positions at sustainNU and the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern. These positions focus on a variety of topics, including energy monitoring, student and stakeholder engagement, bicycle coordination, communications, recycling improvements and more.

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:

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.