Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.34
Liaison Elida Erickson
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, Santa Cruz
IN-26: Innovation C

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Ellen Vaughan
Water & Climate Action Manager
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Sustainability Certificate Program

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

In a move to help the UC Santa Cruz community broaden and deepen the conversation around sustainability, in 2018, the campus launched a new seven-course certificate program for faculty, staff, and graduate students.

The Sustainability Certificate Program, created by the Office of Sustainability, went through a 70 student pilot run in 2017 and is now in full swing with dozens more currently enrolled.

The Sustainability Office has long focused on providing practical advice: how to avoid creating trash, tips on recycling, tools for minimizing your energy demands, and more. The Office, however, noticed a growing need to support campus employees in discussing sustainability in a deeper and more meaningful way.

The certificate program seeks to examine sustainability not only through the lens of the environment, but also through the lens of people. It’s not just ’how do we reach a goal like reducing carbon emissions,’ but 'how do we do so in a way that respects people where they’re at' given that sustainability solutions often privilege people with means.

For example, when considering strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Santa Cruz, the solution of living closer to where you work is simply not possible for most people given the costs of housing compared to wages. This programs aims to frame sustainability so that its inclusive of these considerations.

The program was modeled after the campus’s lauded Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program. To earn a certificate, participants must complete six required core courses and one elective within two academic years.

The program is designed to take a holistic look at sustainability and not break it into specific topics, such as water, energy, or transportation.

Examples of the three hour courses include:

Intersections Between Diversity & Environment, which explores how certain forms of environmentalism have perpetuated discrimination and helps participants consider ways to approach sustainability in a way that is more inclusive. The course is taught by Colleges 9 and 10 Provost Flora Lu, American Indian Resource Center Director Rebecca Hernandez, and Sustainability Office Director Elida Erickson.

Professor Chris Benner teaches a course on sustainable cities and social equity that examines global patterns of urbanization and plans for developing more urban cities, particularly in California.

UC Santa Cruz alumnus Kevin Koenig, Amazon Watch’s program director for Ecuador, and Ellen Vaughan, Water and Climate Action Manager, co-teach Climate Change and Justice, which looks at the global and local impacts of climate change, and the strengths and weaknesses of efforts in policy and technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To date, this course has included a video chat with an Ecuadorian leader about climate justice in the Amazon rainforest to help bring more perspectives to the discussion.

Other courses touch on sustainability within the University of California, sustainable leadership, mindfulness & sustainability, and fostering sustainable behavior.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Campus Engagement
Diversity & Affordability

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

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

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.