Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.95
Liaison Jenny McNamara
Submission Date June 30, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Portland State University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Heather Spalding
Sustainability Leadership and Outreach Coordinator
PSU
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have one or more co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that fall into the following categories?:
Yes or No
Active student groups focused on sustainability Yes
Gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems Yes
Student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes Yes
Sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills Yes
Conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles Yes
Sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences Yes
Programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills Yes
Sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution Yes
Graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions Yes
Other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives Yes

The name and a brief description of each student group focused on sustainability:

PSU has a strong student sustainability movement. Students are engaged in sustainability leadership on many levels, and this is reflected in the broad range of student groups and organizations working on sustainability issues. Here are some of our most active groups:

Net Impact - Through the Masters Program in the School of Business Administration. Students participate in leadership, networking, projects, and conferences. Students network with a national organization. *STUDENT GOVERNED*

Divest PSU - working to switch our investments to socially and environmentally responsible organizations. They engage in public outreach, education, and are meeting with PSU's Foundation. *STUDENT GOVERNED*

Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) - works on a variety of sustainability-related campaigns and projects which include the student food pantry, food issues, funding for higher education, equal rights, and more. The ASPSU Senate has designated a sustainability representative who participates in forming partnership with the university's sustainability departments and student groups. *STUDENT GOVERNED*

Green Roots cafe - provides healthy, local, vegetarian and vegan food options to fellow students. The Café is a cooperate that operates through student fees and is student-managed with support from an advisor. *STUDENT GOVERNED*

Environmental Club - hosts events and volunteer opportunities for students and organizes a variety of events and campaigns throughout the year. Hosts the annual Earth Day festival. *STUDENT GOVERNED*

Take Back the Tap (TBTT) - As a committee within the Environmental Club, TBTT advocates for healthy, sustainable drinking water options on the PSU campus. They have installed more than 20 water bottle refilling stations at PSU and participate in the Sustainable Drinking Water Task Force. *STUDENT GOVERNED*

More student groups can be found at the link below.


The website URL where information about student groups is available:
A brief description of gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems:

PSU has a variety of gardens that fit the description requested for this credit.

Community Garden - The Community Garden holds more than forty student spaces that are allocated to individual students who live in PSU's residence halls. The garden features a large wheelchair-accessible plot, shared toolshed, native plant demonstration, and sandbox play area. The garden also has a three-step composting system and the coordinator organizes a variety of garden workshops. *STUDENT GOVERNED*

Science Research Teaching Center Native Garden – The Environmental Club has managed this native garden since the 1990s. The garden strip runs along an entire city block and is located next to a well-used sidewalk. The garden features plants that are found in Oregon, signage indicating the names of most plants, a dry streambed, and a nurse log with mosses.

Community Orchard - Stroll through 30+ species of fruit trees or study at the cob bench in our Orchard. This space utilizes permaculture principles to mimic the processes of natural systems. Each year, the Orchard is one of many placemaking sites activated during the city-wide Village Building Convergence. This spring placemaking festival combines community building, art and ecological design. The Orchard is maintained through a partnership with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). *STUDENT GOVERNED*

Learning Garden – The Learning Gardens Laboratory (LGL) is a 12-acre garden education site located in Southeast Portland that provides K-12, university students and community members hands-on and place-based education in sustainable gardening, healthy nutrition, and permaculture. Education at LGL supports improved academic achievement, leadership development, and the development of sustainable local food systems. Established in 2005, LGL exists as a unique partnership between Portland State University, Portland Public Schools, Portland Parks and Recreation, and Oregon State University Extension Service.

The Learning Gardens Lab serves as model of community-based education focused on a hands-on and practical learning tool: the garden. Through garden-based education and outreach, this site serves Lane Middle School students, PSU students, SUN Program participants, Community Transition School students, OSU Extension Service horticulture students and Master Gardeners, and more.

Graduate students enrolled in Portland State University’s Leadership in Ecology, Culture and Learning (LECL) Program facilitate weekly garden-based science curriculum for Lane Middle School students in collaboration with our science teacher partners from Lane. Over 200 Lane Middle School students from diverse racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds receive instruction each week; they learn through direct, hands-on experience the process of growing and harvesting food, the science of cooking with whole foods, and the importance of good nutrition and eating habits. Perhaps most importantly, students learn to appreciate the interconnection and complexity of our natural world.

Graduate Assistants from the LSE program also coordinate a Multicultural Family Learning Garden for Lane Middle School families who are learning to grow their own food. In addition, PSU Graduate Assistants and interns harvest produce from LGL and deliver it to Lane Middle School where it is distributed to families who need it through our partnership with the Lane SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) School. PSU also offers senior Capstone service-learning classes in partnership with LGL including Environmental Education through a Native American Lens, Grant Writing for the Environment, Sustainable Food Systems, and Learning Gardens and Civic Affairs. Additionally, many PSU courses require Community-Based Learning and our site is one where these volunteer hours can be fulfilled. In addition to these educational opportunities, our partners from Oregon State University’s Extension Service demonstrate sustainable, organic gardening techniques at LGL through the Organic Gardening Certification Program, and train and mentor students from the Community Transition Center, a Portland Public School on site, in horticulture.

Permaculture Demonstration Garden – Along the west side of Smith Student Union, students maintain a demonstration garden which shares ecologically-sustainable land management practices. The garden includes groundcovers, native plants, a pathway, and other "permaculture-friendly" plants.

Native American Student and Community Center (NASCC) - This rooftop garden highlights native medicinal plants with ethnobotanical significance to the Pacific Northwest's indigenous communities. Signage highlights historical and contemporary uses of native plants.

Oak Savanna - South of Science Research and Teaching Center, the Savanna includes 5 oak trees and one pine tree. Additionally, the space is home to native plants which include camas, lupine, grasses, poppies, and yarrow. The space is used as an educational classroom and includes a meeting area comprised of 28 tree stumps. Staff in the Student Sustainability Center have created a learning module that is available to the campus for use in their learning activities.

Shattuck Ecological Learning Plaza - This outdoor research laboratory is home to two separate scientific experiments: a series of vertical growing systems ("living walls") and a steep-sloped green roof.

The vertical growing systems, set at different angles around the southern end of the Plaza, were designed and built by students in the Department of Architecture and the Green Building Research Lab. The walls were outfitted with several planting and irrigation systems by local firms, including Solterra, Nevue Ngan and Tournesol. Through a $40,000 grant from Metro, the regional government agency, and support from PSU, monitoring equipment powered by solar arrays are collecting data to research water usage, storm-water management, temperature and other important factors. Metro’s goal is to utilize and share this research as part of their continuing efforts to promote low-impact development practices throughout the Portland region. What's more, the data collected by the equipment will soon be made available on the Plaza's web site.

The experimental steep-sloped green roof at the northern end of the Plaza is a testing model that will inform the design and planting of a much larger steep-sloped green roof to be built atop the new Oregon Zoo Conservation Discovery Zone. Designed and built by PSU architecture and Green Building Research Lab students, the model in the Plaza features three bays, each with a different sub-structure. One is a steel terrace system designed by PSU students, another includes a commercial-grade substrate, and a third has soil only. A flow meter will provide information about water runoff, absorption and trans-evaporation of each system. The goal is to identify the system that retains plants and soil and allows for maximum absorption and minimal storm-water runoff. This test roof will be monitored for approximately two years before construction of the full-scale building begins.

The Plaza is enhanced by demonstration gardens featuring drought-resistant native and non-native plants, pervious cobblestone paving and innovative seating created by PSU architecture students. Stop by to see these experiments in progress!


The website URL where information about the organic agriculture and/or sustainable food systems projects and initiatives is available:
A brief description of student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes:

Green Roots Cafe - The Cafe offers healthy, sustainability-minded food and is managed by students.

Green Roots' Core Values:

Inclusion: To serve a diverse customer base reflective of the campus community.

Nourishment: To serve fresh, delicious, and nutritious vegetarian food.

Affordability: To maintain prices that are lower than elsewhere in the Portland area for similar value.

Education: To provide educational opportunities that align with the mission.

Sustainable Sourcing & Practices: To source goods and supplies that meet the established sourcing criteria, and maintain practices that contribute to social, ecological, and economic sustainability.

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Other student organizations listed above are also student managed.


The website URL where information about the student-run enterprise(s) is available:
A brief description of the sustainable investment or finance initiatives:

The Divest PSU campaign is in the process of participating in PSU's Environmental and Social Governance strategy with the PSU Foundation. PSU is still in the process of identifying how its investments can be more sustainable, but we are making progress.


The website URL where information about the sustainable investment or finance initiatives is available:
A brief description of conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

PSU hosts many events related to sustainability each year. Events with an asterisk are student-governed.

- Social Sustainability Colloquium
- Social Sustainability Month*
- PSU CleanTech Challenge
- Solutions seminars with experts from around the world (throughout the year)
- Urban Ecological Research Symposium
- Research to Action Symposium
- Weekly transportation seminars
- Bicycle workshops
- Regional Livability Summit
- Multnomah Food Policy Summit
- Portland State of Mind events
- Elevating Impact Summit
- Seminars are held in Environmental Science and Transportation Departments
- Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference
- Village Building Convergence*


The website URL where information about the event(s) is available:
A brief description of cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

Social Sustainability Month
Village Building Convergence
Native American Heritage Month
Earth Days
Earth Day of Service*
Alternative Spring Break*
Campus Conservation Nationals*


The website URL where information about the cultural arts event(s) is available:
A brief description of wilderness or outdoors programs for students that follow Leave No Trace principles:

PSU's Outdoor Program was established in 1966 and offers a wide variety of programs, including trips and equipment rentals. Through the Outdoor Program, students have the chance to enhance their academic careers through leadership development opportunities and through finding affordable ways to escape and meet fellow students. In addition to providing outdoor trips, the Outdoor Program also manages PSU's climbing center, an equipment rental center, and a volunteer program.


The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors program(s) is available:
A brief description of sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

PSU has a year-long, interdisciplinary, first-year experience course called Freshman Inquiry. Sustainability is currently 1 of 8 themes that Freshmen can choose among to fulfill this portion of their general education requirement. Sustainability is also a learning outcome for all undergraduate students.

In 2008, PSU received a $25 million challenge grant, the largest gift ever given to the university. The administration chose to put that funding toward sustainability research, innovation and education across majors and disciplines.


The website URL where information about the theme is available:
A brief description of program(s) through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

Sustainability Honors Program
Sustainability Volunteer Program
EcoReps
Student Sustainability Leadership Council
Campus Conservation Nationals
Social Sustainability Month
Village Building Convergence
Community Skill Share
others...


The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills program(s) is available:
A brief description of sustainability-focused student employment opportunities:

PSU offers many opportunities to prepare for a sustainability-focused career. These include:

Career counseling with a sustainability focused career counselor - http://www.pdx.edu/sustainability/pathways-to-sustainability-careers

Careers in Sustainability page - http://www.pdx.edu/sustainability/pathways-to-sustainability-careers

Current opportunities page - http://www.pdx.edu/sustainability/current-opportunities

Internship program - http://www.pdx.edu/sustainability/sustainability-internship-program

Off-campus opportunities - http://www.pdx.edu/sustainability/off-campus-opportunities

Graduate Assistant positions - http://www.pdx.edu/ogs/graduate-assistantships


The website URL where information about the student employment opportuntities is available:
A brief description of graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions:

PSU has offered the graduation sustainability pledge since 2009-10. Students can sign via the online form or in person during the commencement ceremony.

"Join more than 4,000 PSU graduates who have taken the Graduation Sustainability Pledge. Together, we can make a positive difference in our communities and create a better world."


The website URL where information about the graduation pledge program is available:
A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:

Student newsletter: Sent to over 2,000 students each month, the newsletter shares opportunities, news, interviews, and other great resources.

Chinook Book mobile app: Available to all students, staff, and faculty, the app shares 60 great coupons to local and sustainable businesses. The app also shares sustainable living information that includes city bike maps, articles, videos, sustainable living tips, and more.

Reuse communities: Through Facebook and the PSU Switchboard, students can post and respond to opportunities and physical items. This builds a community of reuse.

ReUse Room: Located in Crame 180, this is a free office supply exchange program. Items are donated from departments and can be taken by students, staff and faculty. The ReUse Room also includes reusable mugs and other valuable items.


The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available:

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.