Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 81.30
Liaison Patrick McKee
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Connecticut
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Sarah Munro
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Environmental Policy
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Each department involved with sustainability maintains ties with grant and fellowship opportunities that permit students to study aspects of environmental, social, economic, or energy sustainability.
Examples include, but are not limited to:

The USDA Marine Watershed and the Zwick Food Policy Center provide fellowships and internships for students in Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Sea Grant fellowships and internships are provided for students across disciplines related to marine sciences and marine resource conservation, climate impact monitoring, and policy.

Fellowships offered in partnership with the engineering departments for work on sustainable fuel technologies, alternative energy projects, clean water technologies, and pollution reduction strategies.

Incentives offered through the Human Rights institute for students to study a variety of human rights topics, many of which are directly related to sustainability, such as corporate social responsibility and sustainable development.

The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) administers several different research funding programs, including IDEA Grants, Supply Awards, Travel Awards, and Summer Undergraduate Research Fund Awards. These awards are often used to fund projects directly or indirectly linked to environmental sustainability.

Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Sustainability is one of only three "focus areas of excellence" specifically mentioned in the 2009-2014 Academic Plan and is widely incorporated into the 2015 Academic Vision under the core value of global engagement, providing institutional support and resource allocation that is targeted towards the development of research programs related to sustainability. The sustainability initiatives are driven largely by the University's ACUPCC commitments, as outlined in the University's Climate Action Plan.



The Climate Change Adaptation task force drafted an amendment to the University Climate Action Plan that specifically addresses the need to focus institutional resources on sustainability-related research, which the University President signed on March 26, 2012. In planning for the more frequent and severe storms predicted by climate scientists, UConn's President Herbst reaffirmed the University's commitment to a carbon-neutral campus and approved the addition of an Adaptation Section to our Climate Action Plan (CAP). UConn’s 2012 Adaptation amendment, unique among colleges and universities at the time, offers to others our expertise and resources for adaptive response and resiliency. Inherent in these recommended measures is the assumption that the world’s collective actions to reduce carbon emissions are not enough to prevent damaging, or even catastrophic, consequences.


Since the Adaptation amendment to the CAP in 2012, UConn researchers have conducted research on resiliency topics ranging from modeling climate change to clean energy microgrids and roadside forestry.


The University Climate Action Plan contains a section for a Renewable Energy Strategic Plan for creating demonstration and working scale projects highlighting the faculty's own research interests. Fourteen faculty members were interviewed in 2011 for inclusion in this plan. Scoping, siting and economic analysis for the first phase of this plan was recently completed; and grant submissions have been made to fund the projects selected for the first round.

Smart and sustainable building technologies are also being planned for new construction projects through an integrated design process and interdisciplinary collaboration with faculty during the planning phase. For example, the new 400 kW hydrogen fuel cell at the Depot Campus near Storrs is a "living laboratory," i.e., an efficient and functional clean source of combined heat and power for many of the buildings at the Depot while also serving as a platform for microgrid research and education. The microgrid infrastructure is under construction using a $2.14 million research grant from the state DEEP.


Meanwhile, UConn's new Tech Park project envisions 1 million square feet of new building space on UConn's undeveloped North Campus, while preserving more than 160 acres of adjacent green space (Hillside Environmental Education Park), including wetlands, uplands and a wooded vernal pool corridor, for public use and enjoyment through activities such as hiking and bird watching. The 10 to 20-year Tech Park master plan calls for development of facilities that will foster public private collaboration on research on subjects ranging from additive manufacturing to bioscience, sustainable energy and clean tech. The state has earmarked $172 million for the first building in the Tech Park, to be named UConn's Innovation Partnership Building (IPB). The IPB is currently designed for LEED Gold certification as a human-centered smart building that will not only facilitate clean energy research but also exemplify high performance, resource-efficient design and construction.




The University also has a number of internal grants that have been provided for sustainability-research. This includes Faculty fellowships through the Human Rights Institute, which are often related to sustainability.



In addition, the University supports an Economic and Social Rights research group and a Global Health and Human Rights research group that meet regularly to share research projects, CESE, CLEAR, C2E2 and Sea Grant are also centers that encourage and conduct sustainability-related research, green technologies and outreach.



Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The University's Academic Plan supports an integrated research approach. This support is reflected in the large number of truly interdisciplinary centers and programs promoting collaborative efforts at UConn.

Included in this tally are a University colloquia for supporting interdisciplinary knowledge exchange; the Center for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE) database of interdisciplinary climate change research; a listing of interdisciplinary research centers; interdisciplinary biomedical research; an interdisciplinary AIDS research consortium; interdisciplinary legal research for tackling social and environmental challenges in law; and an interdisciplinary materials science program.







Additionally, the University Policy on Faculty Professional Responsibilities includes the following: "(2) Annual meetings will be held between the department head (or dean in a non-departmentalized school) and individual faculty, in the spirit of the University Laws and By-Laws quoted above (Article XV.J.4.b. & L.1).” These meetings should serve to enhance the overall activities of the department as well as interdisciplinary research/scholarship, where appropriate. The department head will review and discuss the faculty member’s productivity and present and future professional activities. The department head and faculty member should also discuss any problems encountered by the faculty member in the performance of his/her duties. For regional campus faculty, similar meetings should occur with the appropriate regional Associate Vice Chancellor [Director], as well as with the department head. Any adjustments in a regional campus faculty member’s activities must be made in concert with the faculty member’s department head.

These meetings may also be used, where appropriate, to accomplish, in consultation with the faculty member, proportional adjustments to the faculty member’s responsibilities. These annual assessments of a faculty member’s activity can include consideration of various measures commensurate with the unique constraints of creative endeavors or original research/scholarship. Such adjustments may be appropriate during a faculty member’s career and are an essential component in maintaining a department’s and the University’s overall effectiveness."


Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Carolyn Mills of the Babbidge Library at the University of Connecticut focuses on the subjects of biological sciences, agriculture, environmental sciences, plant sciences, and ecology and evolutionary biology, including the management of the subjects’ databases. She and other subject specialists act as personal contacts to faculty and students with library-related issues and questions to facilitate communication.


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

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The University of Connecticut Foundation supports student scholarships and fellowships to provide young people with the opportunity to realize their dreams and contribute to the betterment of the world. The Foundation accepts donations to the General Scholarship Fund to support students from all areas of study and provides merit and need-based aid.



The University of Connecticut Foundation supports student scholarships and fellowships to provide young people with the opportunity to realize their dreams and contribute to the betterment of the world. The Foundation accepts donations to the General Scholarship Fund to support students from all areas of study and provides merit and need-based aid.



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.