Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 59.94
Liaison Elaine Goetz
Submission Date Aug. 11, 2021

STARS v2.2

Ohio University
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Elaine Goetz
Director of Energy Management & Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the student sustainability research program:

Every year, Ohio University holds a Student Research and Creative Activity Expo. Various awards are offered for research in specific areas. Since 2017, the Office of Sustainability has offered cash prizes for the best sustainability research that meets the AASHE STARS definition of sustainability research. In 2020 the Expo was moved to a virtual format due to COVID-19, but a prize was still awarded to the most “liked” sustainability research project – “Influence of vegetarian diets on the composition of typical food waste and biogas production in an anaerobic digestor”.

In 2019, the Ohio University Eco-Challenge sustainability competition was conducted for the fourth year. Teams of students from the College of Business Select Leaders program, the Russ College of Engineering Robe Leadership Institute, and the Cutlers Scholars research local sustainability problems, design solutions, and present their proposals to judges. The 2019 winning team proposed replacing the utility vehicles (UTVs) used by Facilities (especially Grounds Services) with electric UTVs. The plan, currently in the implementation phase, is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by nearly five tons per year per vehicle replaced, while also reducing noise, out-of-service time, and operational costs. The estimated breakeven time to recuperate the investment is less than two years with an annual return-on-investment of 48% over the lifetime of each vehicle.

Every year, the Voinovich Scholar Program matches students with faculty and projects that directly provide students the opportunity to do research in sustainability. While the program does not exclusively focus on sustainability, sustainability has been a common and impactful topic for participants.

For six years in a row, Ohio University students have been awarded Udall Scholarship for sustainability-related research. Topics have included: work with a grassroots community group advocating against injection wells for fracking waste; best practices to help vulnerable ecosystems and endangered species, particularly along the coasts and marine ecosystems; creating an emergency preparedness tool for older adults in Franklin County, looking specifically at challenges facing older adults combined with the projected climate impacts in the Midwest area and in Ohio. The research division assists students with scholarship applications.

The Sugar Bush Foundation routinely awards grants to Ohio University/local community partners to research and implement sustainability projects. Currently, Sugar Bush is funding a number of students to work on Zero Waste research and implementation, as well as acid mine drainage remediation projects.

Does the institution have a program to encourage academic staff from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the faculty sustainability research program:

The Innovation Strategy, "a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort that encompasses teaching, learning, research and institutional operations and addresses how the University can use its existing assets and expertise to engage substantively with the challenges of the 21st century", was initiated at Ohio University in 2015. The Innovation Strategy has issued two cycles (2015 and 2017) of RFPs and awarded major awards (three-year grants), planning grants (up to $20k for 1 year) and seed grants (up to $50k for 1 year) for successful proposals in the following 4 broad areas: Energy, Environment, and the Economy; Health and Wellness; Vibrant Societies and Economies; and Digitally Connected World. Within these 4 broad areas, there are many niches specifically outlined that highlight sustainability.

In Cycle 1, four major, seven seed, and five planning proposals were funded, In Cycle 2, one major, two seed, and three planning proposals were funded. In total, $4,423,652 was invested across the two cycles. Of these grants, eight were framed around sustainability and received $2,404,482. The major outcomes from these projects are summarized in the additional documentation section below.

The Sugar Bush Foundation routinely awards grants to Ohio University/local community partners to research and implement sustainability projects. Currently, Sugar Bush is funding a number of faculty, staff, students and community members to work on Zero Waste research and implementation, local food procurement and acid mine drainage remediation projects.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A copy of the promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

The promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

Each department at Ohio University has different requirements regarding tenure and promotions; however, in general the process requires faculty to submit documentation regarding interdisciplinary contributions.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:

Ohio University Libraries have created a Sustainability Guide to aid sustainability research and learning (https://libguides.library.ohio.edu/sustainability).

In addition, Ohio University Libraries employ 16 subject librarians, one of whom is specifically dedicated to Environmental Studies. All subject librarians participate in teaching activities and research support related to sustainability. Courses with sustainability-related readings and research may be supported with customized course guides created by librarians. One example is the library resources on sustainable fashion for students in retail and fashion product development (http://libguides.library.ohiou.edu/retail/sustainablefashion).

The Libraries have also collaborated with a variety of campus partners since 2012 in support of the Fall Sustainability Film Festival. All films shown at the festival are available in the libraries’ collection with Public Performance Rights (https://www.library.ohio.edu/2017/08/2017-fall-sustainability-film-series/).

Finally, the library maintains a “sustainability wall” in Alden Library, a facility that sees over 2 million visitors a year. This wall advertises campus sustainability-related events and educational materials, as well as library books, films, and resources.

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Faculty sustainability research incentives data provided by Roxanne Male-Brune Director, Grants Development & Projects, VP for Research Division.

Student sustainability research incentives provided by Dave Bayless, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, on 5/27/2020.

Recognition of interdisciplinary, transdisciplnary and multi-disciplinary research data provided by Robin Muhammad, Associate Professor; Chair, Arts and Sciences and Chair of Faculty Senate on 5/27/2020.

Entered by Sydney Hutchinson on 3/23/2020.

Expo application link: https://www.ohio.edu/sustainability/expo.cfm
Sugar Bush projects: https://www.ohio.edu/advancement/sugarbush/projects.cfm
Course research projects: https://business.ohio.edu/about/news/class-presents-sustainable-solutions-at-ohio-university-student-expo/
Voinovich Scholars: https://www.ohio.edu/voinovichschool/students/current/htc.cfm
General library services: https://www.ohio.edu/library
Environmental Studies library guide: http://libguides.library.ohiou.edu/environmental-studies
Sustainable fashion library guide: http://libguides.library.ohiou.edu/retail/sustainablefashion

Data provided by Kelly Broughton, Assistant Dean for Research & Education Services, Library.

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.