Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.29
Liaison Brandon Trelstad
Submission Date Dec. 23, 2020

STARS v2.2

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?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level:

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 (as was recognized in a Dec.6, 2019 email from the Provost and Executive Vice President to campus leadership). This compliments and helps inform OSU's carbon reduction planning efforts and also involves 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. This effort finally became successful in 2020, with the City agreeing to measure community wide carbon emissions every two years!

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 works toward 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?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level:

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, and help build resilience capacity of Oregon's people.

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 research, 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?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level:

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

Of note is OSU's Jane Lubchenco, who was the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 2009-2013. Nominated by President Obama in December 2008 as part of his “Science Dream Team,” she is a marine ecologist and environmental scientist by training, with expertise in oceans, climate change, and interactions between the environment and human well-being. Jane's work and advocacy has lead to better protection of oceans in particular, with marine reserves and other measures implemented at the national and international level.

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?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level:

In December 2019, OSU Provost and Executive Vice President issued a campus wide email calling for further action to address climate change and recognize the advocacy of OSU faculty on this topic. From that email: "Meanwhile, OSU professors are among leading worldwide voices calling for change in the impacts society is making on our global environment."

Examples include:
An OSU analysis, led by marine ecologists Kirsten Grorud-Colvert and Jane Lubchenco, shows that more than one-third of the ocean area currently under protected status is the result of the annual, high-profile meeting.
The Our Ocean Conference was established in 2014 under the leadership of then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The meeting brings together global leaders of governments, industry, youth and civil society to tackle problems that threaten the health of the ocean. The goal is to commit to action that protects and restores ocean ecosystems and allows them to be used sustainably.

Water resource researchers and diplomats at the World Economic Forum announced Wednesday, Jan. 24 a plan to create an international consortium called the Universities Partnerships for Water Cooperation & Diplomacy. Its goal is to harness the expertise and resources of water resources specialists around the world to help prevent conflict and resolve issues related to the sustainable use of fresh water.
Coordinating universities for the consortium include Oregon State University, the German-Kazakh University in Kazakhstan, IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education in The Netherlands, the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, and the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

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

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/.

A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

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

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.