Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.85
Liaison Geory Kurtzhals
Submission Date Jan. 10, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Southern Illinois University Carbondale
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Geory Kurtzhals
Sustainability Coordinator
Sustainability
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

GEOG 104 (Weather, Climate and Society) is a course where students utilize the gathering data in the campus environment as a part of learning about global trends. This course provides a scientific introduction to the physical processes responsible for weather and climate and the application of fundamental scientific skills to address aspects of weather and climate that are of particular importance to society at large. Students learn the key components of the Earth's climate system and gather and analyze local climate data in order to understand weather and climate at all scales: local to global. Examples of on-campus data collection include: temperature, humidity, and energy balance. Merging knowledge from the lecture and the experiential lab components, students are able to understand weather systems and extrapolate from local data to understand global climate mechanisms. Submission from Dr. Leslie Duram.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

1. A group of students in the Geography-GEOG 470 (Contemporary Issues in Environmental Studies) course identified an opportunity to leverage low-flow toilet valves in the campus Student Center. In this course, students identify campus opportunities and develop grant proposals which are submitted to the Green Fund grant program. The students’ work is assessed as a part of the academic course.
The students researched the problem, identified a solution, and have proposed the solution to the leader of the Student Center’s facilities team. An excerpt from their grant proposal is as follows: “Water is an abundantly used resource on our campus and with new available technologies, we could reduce the amount of water that is used. We could accomplish this by implementing new low-flow flush valves in place of the traditional toilets that are used. We aim to install ten total low-flow flush valves in the men's and women’s bathroom in the Student Center… We chose the bathrooms near the book store because of their heavy use and this would be the most beneficial placement for water conservation.
Traditional toilets use anywhere from 3.4-5.5 gallons each flush, compared to low flow toilets that use 1.2-1.6 gallons per flush. Installing these new flush valves will be an economic benefit to SIU because the amount of gallons per day would be significantly decreased...”
One student has taken the lead on pushing the idea forward to requesting funding and potential implementation. She participated in an idea development workshop, connecting grant proposal writers with campus stakeholders identified that could help to support their academic and real-life projects.
The student has received feedback on the proposal from the facility supervisor, which will strengthen the likelihood of receiving grant funding.

2. A group of students that are part of the NSF Southern Illinois Energy Scholarships Program program identified an opportunity to leverage window film to reduce energy usage in a campus lecture hall. In this program, students learn about energy and apply their learnings to develop campus projects that can advance a more sustainable campus. They develop grant proposals which are submitted to the Green Fund grant program. Students in the NSF Southern Illinois Energy Scholarships Program are scholarship recipients, but are also enrolled in a one credit course assigned to the program and are graded for their work in the program.
The students developed a proposal, which was funded, to install window films in Parkinson Hall Room 202. They developed the grant proposal, including the development of a budget, received proper campus approvals, coordinated the installation after notice of funding, and developed interpretive signage for each location to help engage the public regarding the new films. They also surveyed students before and after installation to understand impact on the learning environment. The students had identified the lecture hall because they had observed that the temperature of the room was often hot to an uncomfortable level for students. From the student project report: “The overall experience of creating the concept, communicating with the physical plant staff, and implementing this project was exciting. Being able, as a student, to make a difference on campus is empowering.”
https://sustainability.siu.edu/_common/documents/project-reports/parkinson-hall-window-films.pdf


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

A group of students that are part of the NSF Southern Illinois Energy Scholarships Program identified an opportunity to leverage occupancy sensors to reduce energy usage in 2 different campus computer labs. In this program, students learn about energy and apply their learnings to develop campus projects that can advance a more sustainable campus. They develop grant proposals which are submitted to the Green Fund grant program. Students in the NSF Southern Illinois Energy Scholarships Program are scholarship recipients, but are also enrolled in a one credit course assigned to the program and are graded for their work in the program.
The students developed proposals, which were funded, to install occupancy sensors in 2 different computer labs in the Engineering Building. They developed the grant proposals, including the development of a budget, received proper campus approvals, coordinated the installation after notice of funding, and developed interpretive signage for each location to help engage the public regarding the new sensors. The students had identified the computer labs because they had observed that often the lights were left on, even when no one was in the room. A potential saving was expected 0.15 pounds of greenhouse gases per hour that the lights are off in a non-residential building (according to a study by Boston University). Over a single day, the savings were estimated at about a pound of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment per computer lab.
https://sustainability.siu.edu/_common/documents/project-reports/occupancy-motion-sensing-lights.pdf
The students have been funded for a third occupancy sensor project in the basement of the Neckers Building.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

The "Health & Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors Among College Students" assessment was developed as a collaboration between the Sustainability Office and a faculty member Dawn Null, PhD, RD, LDN (Assistant Professor, Human Nutrition & Dietetics). The purpose of this study was two-fold: 1) to investigate the influence of an environmental marketing campaign on the attitudes and eating behaviors of SIU students; and 2) to complete assessments of sustainability literacy and culture of SIU students.
The assessment was adopted for use during the fall 2019 semester. The post-assessment is scheduled for spring 2020 and will take place after strategic interventions of educational materials have been placed in the dining halls.
The investigation of the influence of an environmental marketing campaign on the attitudes and eating behaviors of SIU students is specific to Dr. Null's research and is separate from the sustainability literacy and culture assessments. We just collaborated on the survey in order to maximize resources and effort with a sustainability-themed survey.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

1. Dr. Charles Ruffner teaches Forestry 351 (Forest Measurement) at Touch of Nature, SIU’s Environmental Center which is over 3100 acres in size. As a part of this course, students conduct a forest stand inventory. As a part of the inventory, the students collect data on species composition, stand structure, and health. As a part of the process, students put together management recommendations for Touch of Nature, based on the assessment. https://ton.siu.edu/
2. A Masters’ degree student completed research around biochar and categorizing it for small scale gardeners/farmers. At the time, she was also a graduate student for our campus garden and utilized this location for some of her research. In addition, the campus garden had many active student volunteers. Info provided by Dr. Leslie Duram.
3. Undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Biological Sciences conduct class and individual research projects in experimental research plots to test ecological theories located at SIUC’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center and University Farms. Results from this student-driven research related to ecological restoration and ecosystem sustainability have been published as theses and dissertations, and in the peer-reviewed academic literature. Information provided by Dr. David Gibson, Professor of Plant Biology.

4. In 2019, Southern Illinois University began working on events to recertify its Tree Campus USA designation for the fifth consecutive year. The Arbor Day Foundation recognized our university for the commitment to effective urban forest management. At that time, there were 364 campuses nationwide that were designated with this honor. A diverse cross-section of the campus is represented on the university’s tree committee, including arborists, forestry faculty, grounds and sustainability representatives and students. They all worked together to complete the tree plan and application and will continue efforts to promote effective urban forest management on campus. In conjunction with this designation, SIU celebrated its Arbor Day observance, with the planting of trees at lots #44 and #46 located north and west of the Communications building on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.
Data provided by Elizabeth Jean Cheek, Administrative Aide – Assistant to the Superintendent of Grounds


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

1. A group of 3 students from the University Honors Program are exploring the process for implementing a bike share program on campus and in the Carbondale community. As a part of the academic course, the students have been charged with conceptualizing and finding solutions towards sustainable living. As a part of their process, the students have studied similar solutions in other locations, spoken with stakeholders, explored the specifics associated with our community, and brainstormed solutions.
This activity is happening concurrent to a collaborative campus initiative supported by the Sustainability Office, University Housing, and academic units to help students to donate unwanted bikes at the end of the year instead of abandoning them on campus and the students have been invited into this discussion. The 3 students in this course have joined in on this conversation and they are using the course as an opportunity to help us think through the details of implementing this idea. They are thinking through the end-to-end process, from planning to implementation, including collection, refurbishing, and redistribution. The students will make recommendations in this area. They were also invited to a city/campus collaborative meeting to discuss alternative transportation options.
Because the students are doing this work as a part of their University Honors Program course, their work is being guided and evaluated as a part of standard academic course evaluation, in addition to support from other campus stakeholders. https://honors.siu.edu/
2. A group of students that are part of the NSF Southern Illinois Energy Scholarships Program program identified an opportunity to identify and paint bike lanes on a main campus road. In this program, students learn about energy and apply their learnings to develop campus projects that can advance a more sustainable campus. They develop grant proposals which are submitted to the Green Fund grant program. Students in the NSF Southern Illinois Energy Scholarships Program program are scholarship recipients, but are also enrolled in a one credit course assigned to the program and are graded for their work in the program.
The students developed a proposal, which was funded, to paint lanes on Lincoln Drive. They developed the grant proposal, including the development of a budget and in the process of receiving campus approvals, discovered that the university had completed a similar plan, but had not yet found the funding for the lanes. They worked with the university architects to complete the Green Fund proposal. After installation, the students supported education and outreach on campus about the bike lanes. The lanes provide a safer route for bicyclists on campus. Since the installation of the bike lanes, bicyclists now have a dedicated route that they can use without endangering other pedestrians. https://sustainability.siu.edu/green-fee/green-fund-projects/lincoln-drive-bike-lanes


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

As a part of the Geography -GEOG 470 Contemporary Issues in Environmental Studies course, students identified a variety of opportunities to reduce campus waste. In this course, students identify campus opportunities and develop grant proposals which are submitted to the Green Fund grant program. The students’ work is assessed as a part of the academic course. For all projects, the students researched the problem, identified a solution and an implementation budget, proposed the solution to campus leaders and/or other stakeholders, and received buy in to the implement the projects. The following are projects that the students identified as a part of the course that also received funding to be implemented.
1. Install Water Cooler with Bottle Filler at Existing Location (Quigley) – This project replaced a water fountain in Quigley Hall with an Elkay refillable water bottle station. This water fountain helps reduce the amount of plastic water bottles that end up in the oceans and landfills. This allows students to make the switch to reusable water bottles more easily. https://sustainability.siu.edu/green-fee/green-fund-projects/19SP108_Install_water_cooler
2. Wall and Grand Recycle Project – This project focused on the placement of recycling bins into each bedroom of the Wall and Grand apartments. This project was rather simple and straight forward: purchase recycling bins, place them in the rooms. The result, we hope, is even larger than the immediate impact of the now increased rates of recycling on behalf of the residents of Wall and Grand. Additionally, the placement of the recycling bins within the apartments and the newfound habit of recycling may also prompt further sustainable action and sustainable-mindedness from residents. The impact of the recycling bins is not singularly physical, but psychological as well.
https://sustainability.siu.edu/_common/documents/project-reports/round-16-spring-2019/19sp111-wall-and-grand-recycling-final-report.pdf

3. Environmentally Sustainable Paper Straw Usage at SIU Carbondale – This project is in-progress and supplies university-owned food and beverage establishments (at Marketplace and Delyte’s) with paper straws to offer an alternative option to the plastic straws. In addition to the straws being offered, there’s eye-catching signage with a QR coded survey where participants can provide feedback to university decision makers.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

As a part of the Limnology (Zool 415) course, Professor Marj Brooks, along with several undergraduates, established an experimental wetland area by the concrete walkway on the south side of Campus Lake. They planted endemic water plants both to beautify one arm of the pond-wetland complex as well as to test the hypothesis that greater biodiversity speeds nutrient cycling and promotes a healthy lake.
This is an ongoing experiment that will be evaluated each year by successive groups of students in that course. The first round of nutrient measurements have been completed. The data are not yet analyzed, but will serve as a baseline for future assessments.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:

A group of 3 students from the University Honors Program are in the testing phase of a project which has the goal of adding a sustainability-themed week to the UNIV101 course, Saluki Success. These 3 honors students identified this campus opportunity as a part of the honors course “Innovations and Sustainability, Surviving in a Changing World.” As a part of their class project, the students met with the university’s provost to share their idea and ask for her support. The provost gave the students approval to move forward testing the idea with a current UNIV101 course. The students have met with the Sustainability Director 3-4 times to get feedback and guidance, as well as having received guidance for other campus entities, including the Center for Teaching Excellence. The course meets once a week and so the “week” includes pre-work, course time, and post work. The students have tested the facilitation of the course with one class and are planning to deliver a completed course kit of teaching materials, to the provost for implementation as a component of future courses. Their UNIV101 course strives to introduce students to sustainability in general, as well as campus sustainability resources.
This project has the opportunity to impact generations of SIU students, UNIV101 is the first-year seminar that supports the transition of first-year students as they enter our research university. Special attention is given to what it means to be a Saluki by exploring the richness of our history and traditions. Integration of sustainability in this required course helps to embed sustainability into the culture of our current and future students. In addition, upon completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and behaviors critical for academic and personal success.
Because the students are doing this work as a part of their University Honors Program course, their work is being guided and evaluated as a part of standard academic course evaluation.
https://salukisuccess.siu.edu/
https://honors.siu.edu/


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:

A student pursuing a Master of Science degree in Geography and Environmental Resources, Dylan Gibson, has been conducting his thesis project on the fossil fuel divestment movement at higher education institutions in the United States. The purpose of the project is to study the characteristics of and barriers and drivers faced by campaigns within this movement, which have been attempting to get their institutions to divest from the fossil fuel industry. In addition to conducting this project the student has been a leader of a student-led campaign to get our university to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Because of this, the student has been studying the student-led divestment efforts on our campus as part of the overall scope of the higher education divestment movement across the United States for his thesis. In addition, the student's involvement as a leader of the campaign on our campus has served as a unique opportunity for experiential learning that has both supplemented other methods used for his research as well as provided a means to directly apply his academic learning towards efforts to increase the sustainability of the university's investments.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:

1. Student members of Applied Research Consultants (ARC), an organization composed of graduate students and faculty members housed within our Psychology Department, supported and administered a public survey to help the Carbondale Sustainability Commission gather important information to inform a community Sustainability Action Plan. The goal of the survey was to gather community input on strategies for addressing sustainability needs and setting priorities in each sector (energy use in built structures, energy use in transportation, green infrastructure, food production & consumption, waste reduction).
Because many SIU students, faculty, and staff live in Carbondale, the campus community was engaged in responding and the survey was promoted by the Sustainability Office, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, and ARC. Additionally, because the SIU Sustainability Working Groups and the Carbondale Sustainability Commission are informally connected (we have members that serve on both campus and community groups), the responses will impact our campus planning, as well.
A total of 483 responses were collected, with 74% residents/community members and 26% non-residents/community members. Additionally, the ARC students reported that the top three sustainability strategies, across sectors, included (1) increasing recycling in apartment complexes, (2) encouraging consumption of locally grown food, and (3) practicing storm water management.
ARC Associates are coached and assessed as a part of the Applied Psychology program and receive course credit. They participate in this vertical practicum for a total of six semesters, in which they are evaluated on numerous consulting practices.
Submission information for ARC supplied by Kristin Pankey, Director of ARC.

2. The SIU Sustainability Fellows program, in collaboration with the GEOG 480: Internship in Geography academic course, have paired well to support student development in sustainability, including outreach and engagement.
In the last 3 years, we have had at least 5 students who have developed their sustainability skills sets while fulfilling the GEOG 480 internship credit, which is an academic course that includes an assessment, in addition to the coaching they receive working as a team member in the Sustainability Office.
For the purpose of this report, we have chosen to highlight one Sustainability Fellow, Masters student Julia Sanabria, who was our “Outreach and Education Sustainability Fellow.” While a Fellow, Julia served to engage with and educate students, faculty, staff, and the public about sustainability. She is highlighted on this page, which also includes a link to her internship paper, which describes her engagement work: https://sustainability.siu.edu/participate/for-students/sustainability-fellows.php.
https://sustainability.siu.edu/_common/documents/geog-480-sustainability-internship-paper.pdf
Our Sustainability Fellows fulfill a variety of roles, all of which have some outreach components. In addition to the Sustainability Office, the GEOG 480 internship program places students in public and private agencies outside of SIU. Example locations can be found on this page: https://cola.siu.edu/geography/current-students/internships/.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

Doctoral student Kyle Miller has been investigating student behavior related to vaping on SIU’s campus. He started this work as a part of his practicum experience, in addition to his graduate assistantship with SIU’s Wellness and Health Promotion Services team. A survey he conducted under the supervision of former Wellness Coordinator Bri Sinche received nearly 2000 responses and found that about 28% of students said they currently vape, among other results. Kyle integrated this work into his Advanced Practicum Seminar during his MSW program by focus grouping campaign ideas with peers. He has continued to explore this topic and recently brought the experience to classmates in his learning theories seminar. The class collectively developed a potential curriculum that could be used to educate students as a preventative intervention. With the recent development of vaping-related illnesses, Kyle and the staff at Wellness and Health Promotion Services are increasing awareness of potential harms and motivations to reduce use based on the initial survey.
Supporting URLs: (Feel free to change these if there are better ones or delete if these are not applicable.): https://news.siu.edu/2019/05/052319-clearing-the-clouds-vaping-campaign.php; https://www.kfvs12.com/2019/05/24/survey-shows-what-siu-students-think-about-vaping-campaign-underway-education/; https://www.kfvs12.com/video/2019/05/24/siu-students-surveyed-vaping/; https://wellness.siu.edu/


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:

1. As a part of her thesis work, Masters student Bryanna Blackburn is reviewing campus sustainability literacy assessment to help understand SIU’s sustainability literacy assessment process and future options. She will make recommendations for future assessments, including type of assessment and frequency. As a part of her research she will be looking at existing surveys, results, and survey services (including Sulitest) to determine the right fit for our campus.

2. The Campus Lake Eco-Recreation project is an interdisciplinary project which provides the opportunity for students from different disciplines to get involved with a campus project that involves hands-on solution-oriented work. This project is an innovative form of lake management aimed at promoting good water quality while providing novel forms of outdoor recreation. Specifically, student teams are inventing forms of recreation that aerate, cool, or manage nutrients to make lake waters healthier and more resistant to cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs). The program officially began in late August 2017 at which time Dr. Brooks hired a graduate student charged with documenting the biological impact of recreation on CyanoHABs as well as two human dimensions of the research, namely perceptions of natural resources among lake users and professional career skills among student teams engaged in this unique form of experiential education. The project has been placed in the ‘other impact areas’ category because the project includes so many disciplines and impacts that it is difficult to otherwise categorize. The project has involved solutions associated with wetland management, solar powered fountains, and pedal powered fountains. Components of the project have included energy concepts, planning, public engagement, water quality, research, structure building, recreation and health, grounds, and more.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:

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