Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.57
Liaison Brandon Trelstad
Submission Date Dec. 20, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Oregon State University
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Brandon Trelstad
Sustainability Coordinator
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

Currently, the OSU Sustainability Officer serves on the City of Corvallis Climate Action Advisory Board to help implement a climate action plan for the community. Appointments to the Board are made by the Mayor of the City of Corvallis and the university president and senior leadership are aware of the appointment. This syncs up with OSU's carbon planning efforts and will also involve planning and action at the county government level. Numerous OSU faculty, staff and students serve on other city and county boards and commissions, many related to sustainability.

A specific example of local policy advocacy is the role the Sustainability Office plays in advocating the City of Corvallis adopt aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets. The Sustainability Office has also recommended to Corvallis City Council specific greenhouse gas measurement protocols and frequency, since similar recommendations from other community groups were not enacted. This back and forth with elected officials has put OSU in a role of advocating for a best-practice approach with respect to emissions measurement, supporting community activists who are urging the City to adopt a policy of regular measurement of community-wide emissions.

Additionally, experts from the OSU Extension Service have provided feedback on the Corvallis Climate Action Plan that will accelerate actions in the community to adopt more local food supply chains.

OSU is an integral part of the Corvallis community and is one of the largest driving forces for sustainability locally. OSU is the largest partner of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, an organization that advocates for a more sustainable community. Amongst the work of the Coalition is a Community Sustainability Action Framework that was submitted to and approved by the Corvallis City Council. OSU students, through service learning, volunteering, public advocacy and other means play a vocal and prominent role that influences community sustainability.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

Because of its role as a land grant university, OSU advocates for policies that improve the lives of the people of Oregon. Publicly funded programs include OSU Extension, Forest Research Laboratories, Agricultural Experiment Stations, Master Recyclers, Master Gardner, 4H programs, and others. These programs have elements that focus on sustainability throughout the state.

Most significant with respect to OSU's public grant designation is the policy advice provided through Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, OSU Extension, Sea Grant and other outreach and engagement units. Local decision making bodies like watershed councils, city councils, county commissions and numerous other entities receive frequent policy advice and direction from OSU researchers, Extension and its affiliates. This type of activity occurs across Oregon and beyond.

A specific example of political engagement at the state level is the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute report to the 2017 legislature regarding the need for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The report includes clear recommendations, including, for example, a statement on page 1 of the report that states "...we must try to reduce or even eliminate greenhouse gas emissions..." The report is located at: http://www.occri.net/media/1055/ocar3_final_all_01-30-2017_compressed.pdf

OSU guides its participation in policy issues with two full time professional faculty members dedicated to state policy issues.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

OSU is a signatory of the We Are Still In campaign and remains committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of the national political landscape. OSU's participation in the We Are Still In campaign has sparked productive internal and external dialogues about how the university can accelerate it's contributions to addressing global climate change.

For a more complete listing of individuals involved with national sustainability policy issues, please check this link: http://humanitarian.engineering.oregonstate.edu/faculty-0

OSU participates in policy issues with one full time professional faculty member dedicated to federal policy issues.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

A paper published by an OSU scientist became one of the mostly widely shared science papers since 2011, according to the science communications company Altmetric, and has inspired private contributions to support further research. An international team led by William Ripple, distinguished professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State, published “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” in the journal BioScience. The paper warned that environmental trends in categories such as marine fisheries, population growth, deforestation, wildlife abundance and climate change raise the likelihood of “widespread misery and catastrophic biodioversity loss” in the future. More info at: https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/oregon-state-university-science-paper-generated-global-response-financial-support

More recently, a global coalition of scientists led by OSU's Bill Ripple and Christopher Wolf declared a climate emergency and noted that "untold human suffering" is unavoidable without deep and lasting shifts in human activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and other factors related to climate change. The paper was published in November 2019 in BioScience and the authors were joined by with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from 153 countries. It presents graphics showing trends as vital signs against which to measure progress, and provides a set of effective mitigating actions.

OSU faculty have several times served on international bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On a nearly continual basis, OSU researchers are engaged in making policy recommendations on global issues. Two OSU faculty are also members of the International Comparative Rural Policy Studies (ICRPS) program, which brings together an international, multi disciplinary group of faculty, students and professionals to study together the many facets of rural policy, from policy formulation to policy impacts. More information is at http://icrps.org/.

OSU is a signatory of the We Are Still In campaign and remains committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of the national political landscape.


A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):
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A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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As a research intensive institution, and with strengths in marine sciences, forestry, agriculture, natural resources and engineering, OSU faculty and staff serve as experts in their fields and are frequently called upon by elected officials to provide guidance during policy discussions.

In some cases this may equate to advocacy for specific policy positions and sometimes it may not. The role of a public research institution in forming public policy is complex and in Oregon specific restrictions apply to some forms of advocacy using public money. Nonetheless, Oregon State University plays a critical role in influencing public policy that supports a sustainable future, as outlined in OSU's Strategic Plan: https://leadership.oregonstate.edu/strategic-plan

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.