Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 57.39
Liaison Shoshana Dodge
Submission Date Nov. 12, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Tufts University
EN-9: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Antje Danielson
Administrative Director, Tufts Institute of the Environment & Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) program
Tufts Institute of the Environment
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Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “supportive”?:

A brief description of the institution’s supportive sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

Many of Tufts' partnerships with the local community are through the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, which strives to prepare young people to be lifelong active citizens and creates an enduring culture of active citizenship. Some of the resources that Tisch College provides include funding for sustainability-related community internships (at organizations such as Groundwork Somerville [http://www.groundworksomerville.org/]) and sustainability-related community research (http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/downloads/CompilationofCommunityEngagedResearch.pdf)

Tufts students also participate in a variety of other programs with Groundwork Somerville, such as in The Maple Syrup Project, where students teach elementary-age students environmental science and sustainability issues through tapping trees for syrup.

From the Groundwork Somerville website: What began 12 years ago as the small-scale tapping of a few trees on Tufts campus has now grown into a fully-fledged educational project that involves organizations and individuals throughout the Somerville community. Each winter, the Somerville Community Growing Center, the Somerville Public Schools, Tufts University, volunteers from the community, and Groundwork Somerville taps local sugar maple trees and collects the sap. Simultaneously, Groundwork staff and trained community volunteers teach a four-week arts and science curriculum to second graders at public schools across the city. The season culminates in a spectacular two-day boil down event held at the Somerville Community Growing Center. Metal shop students from Somerville High made and maintain the evaporator pan where we boil the sap into syrup. The syrup is given as thank-you gifts to community partners and sold at the Groundwork Somerville stand at the Union Square Farmers’ Market, the Clarendon Hill Winter Market, and at Sherman Market. More information about this project is available on the Groundwork Somerville website: http://www.groundworksomerville.org/programs/food-and-farms/maple-syrup-project/

Over 20 years ago, Tufts added a community garden to the Medford Campus on Powderhouse Boulevard. The garden is managed by the City of Somerville. As part of its community outreach, Tufts provides a plot of land and water to community members who pay a yearly fee of $25 to plant whatever they wish on their private plots. The program is managed by the Somerville Conservation Commission which oversees the City's Community Garden program. More information about the management of the community garden is available here: http://www.somervillema.gov/departments/concom/gardens

Tufts students in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) program often partner with local communities and community organizations during their "Field Projects" class on issues related to sustainability. Through the course, students operate as consultants, usually in teams of four, on behalf of their chosen client and perform background research, gather critical data, provide an assessment of a proposed course of action, address high-priority concerns or revise a strategic plan. Past projects have been conducted for communities and community organizations such as the City of Everett, the City of Somerville, Boston Arts Academy, the Children's Trust Fund, the Livable Streets Alliance, Chelsea Collaborative, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), Groundwork Somerville, MAPC, the Trust for Public Land, and the Asian Community Development Corp. Learn more here: http://ase.tufts.edu/uep/degrees/FieldProjects.aspx

In 2014, Sun Bug Solar of Somerville installed a solar system on the roof of Dowling Hall. The panels were installed as part of the City of Medford's "Solarize Massachusetts" challenge. Solarize Massachusetts seeks to increase the adoption of small-scale solar electricity in participating communities through a competitive tiered pricing structure that increases the savings for everyone as more home and business owners sign contracts. In an article from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Lisa Raffin, Sun Bug Solar's vice president for corporate business said: “SunBug Solar is ecstatic to be able to work with Tufts University as part of the Solarize Mass program in Medford...This is the true definition of community solar when we see a prominent university and 47 Medford residents linked together to share the benefits of solar electricity." A story about the incentive program is available here: http://www.masscec.com/news/massachusetts-clean-energy-incentive-program-contracts-551-solar-projects

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “collaborative”?:

A brief description of the institution's collaborative sustainability partnership(s):

Faculty members related to the Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) collaborate with the Mystic River Watershed Association on research projects.

Tufts also collaborates with neighborhood organizations in the Cities of Somerville and Boston on urban farming projects.

Antje Danielson, Director of the Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE), works closely with the Earthos Institute (http://www.earthos-institute.us), a non-profit in Somerville, MA dedicated to accelerating the translation of sustainable knowledge into practice in the built environment. In addition, Dr. Danielson serves as the President of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, a national organization of the National Council for Science and the Environment that aims to increase the efficacy of environmental programs at institutions of higher education.

The Water: Systems, Science & Society (WSSS) program has a strong connection with Mystic River Watershed Association (http://mysticriver.org) and is involved with advocacy for the Mystic River. The Mystic River Watershed Association is a typical employer of graduate interns from Tufts and utilizes their skills in ecology, environmental engineering, environmental justice, and GIS analysis. Nolan Nicaise, Program Coordinator of the WSSS program, serves on the board of the Mystic River Watershed Initiative Steering Committee, a group hosted by the US EPA that represents universities, private non-profits, local, state, and federal governmental agencies to share information and build relationships that benefit the Mystic River Watershed. Groups include the US EPA, Mass DCR, Mass DEP, US Parks Service, Charles River Watershed Association, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Groundwork Somerville, the Chelsea Collaborative, and Alternatives for Community and the Environment.

Tufts Food Rescue works to create and ensure food security in the local communities (Somerville and Medford) surrounding Tufts. This student group runs a food collection network involving numerous donors and recipients, ranging from farmers markets and grocery stores to homeless shelters and food pantries. They collect food that would otherwise be thrown away (despite its good condition) and deliver it to partner recipients. These recipients in turn provide individuals and households in need with fresh options as a supplement and as a complement to the low nutrient high calorie diet characteristic of low-income diets. They work closely with the Somerville Homeless Coalition to maximize their impact and respond to the changing needs of the community. http://sites.tufts.edu/tuftslcs/programs/food-rescue/

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “transformative”?:

A brief description of the institution's transformative sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

The Water: Systems, Science & Society (WSSS) (http://tufts.edu/water) graduate program engages some of its students in a practicum project every year, where graduate students collaborate with local or distant communities to develop complex and long-term solutions to environmental/water-related issues. For example, since 2012, WSSS students have worked in the Malden River area, one of the most degraded water bodies in Massachusetts, to develop a long-term strategy to transform the Malden River into a valuable urban asset.

For more details on the WSSS practicum program, visit: http://tufts.edu/water/practicum.html

For more details on the Malden project specifically, visit: http://www.tufts.edu/water/pdf/MaldenPracticum2014.pdf

Some professors associated with the WSSS program receive course waivers from their departments for their work with the WSSS program, a form of financial support. Furthermore, the Tufts Institute of the Environment, supported by the Tufts Office of the Provost, provides a portion of the salaries of the associated professors, another example of institutional financial support for the WSSS program.

In addition to the practicum project, WSSS has other partnerships with the Malden River. Beginning in 2012, WSSS students provided resource mapping, power mapping, community organizing, and publicity that helped in the foundation of the Friends of the Malden River Group, a citizens' group committed to revitalizing the biology and community surrounding the Malden River of Malden, MA. The foundation of the Friends of the Malden River Group was a joint partnership initiated by the Tufts interdisciplinary graduate program in Water: Systems, Science & Society (WSSS), Tri-City Community Action Program, the Mystic River Watershed Association and local environmental advocates.

A brief description of the institution’s sustainability partnerships with distant (i.e. non-local) communities:

In 2012, 2013, and 2014, The Water: Systems, Science & Society program (http://tufts.edu/water) sent a practicum group to the Aida Refugee Camp on the Palestinian West Bank. The program has built a lasting relationship with the Lajee Community Center and has partnered with local community members to improve water infrastructure and develop environmental education projects. More information is available at: http://tufts.edu/water/practicum.html. The WSSS program funds a local technician to continue data collection related to residential water supply quality in the absence of the student team. The full program report is available here: http://www.tufts.edu/water/pdf/WSSS_Palestine2013_FINAL.pdf

Starting in 2015, the WSSS Program began a relationship with the community of South Andros Island of the Bahamas, especially teachers and administrators at the South Andros High School. The WSSS students have implemented an aquaponics system at the high school to increase the capacity of their agricultural sciences program, increase food sovereignty, and decrease water consumption for a people largely dependent on imported food and a shallow aquifer.

Tufts Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is a student group at Tufts University that designs and implements sustainable engineering projects in developing communities. EWB at Tufts is unique in that it includes liberal arts and engineering students who work together to integrate the conceptual and technical strengths of both schools and thereby strengthen our chapter's projects in the communities in which we work.

Tufts EWB works with professional and faculty mentors to design technologically sound projects in communities who express their desire to partner with us. To ensure the sustainability of our projects, we build robust relationships with our partner communities and use participatory methods to address their most pressing needs. Throughout the lifespan of our projects, the communities are highly involved in the assessing, designing, implementing, and monitoring phases.

Tufts EWB is working on projects in Mbale, Uganda and Porvenir, El Salvador that focus on clean water access. Each team travels at least once a year, performing assessments, monitoring, and implementing new designs. Throughout the year our teams meet to design structurally sound water solutions, communicate with non-government organizations in participating countries and community members, and communicate and collaborate with other EWB groups across the nation and groups with similar interest at Tufts. Group members gain experience writing and applying for grants as well as working with other students to apply what they have learned in the classrooms at Tufts to designs that can drastically impact the lives of individuals who need it the most. More information can be found online at www.tuftsgloballeadership.org/program/EWB and http://sites.tufts.edu/ewb/.

The website URL where information about sustainability partnerships is available:

For information about Tisch college, see http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/
For information about Groundwork Somerville, see http://www.groundworksomerville.org/
For information about UEP, see http://ase.tufts.edu/uep
For information on WSSS, see http://tufts.edu/water

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.