Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.45
Liaison Justin Mog
Submission Date March 4, 2022

STARS v2.2

University of Louisville
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.33 / 2.00 Justin Mog
Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability Initiatives
Office of the Provost
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level:
Civic engagement for sustainability has been a top priority for UofL's leadership. In early 2022, Provost Lori Gonzalez was appointed Interim President, and as she points out, she is a champion for sustainability who counts among her biggest professional wins the fact that, "As provost at Appalachian State University, she led the strategic planning process that evolved to embrace sustainability as a core value underlying our plan." As Dr. Gonzalez stated upon taking office, "Building strong connections with the community, business and industry, donors, governmental officials, friends and fans also remains a top priority. UofL is well positioned to make contributions in the workforce, life-changing research and civic engagement. We want to share our accomplishments and partner with others to address the challenges of the university, city and state." (https://www.uoflnews.com/post/uofltoday/president-gonzalez-discusses-interim-position-plans-for-uofls-future/)

This commitment to policy advocacy for sustainability is reflected in the University's 2019-2022 Strategic Plan developed through a collaborative process led by the President's Office and adopted by the Board of Trustees. The Plan outlines UofL's commitment to addressing "Grand Challenges: Through this process, the university will set and tackle several Grand Challenges, priority research areas in which we can make the biggest economic and societal impact on our local and global communities. For instance, the university already has established expertise in areas such as optimal aging (Trager Institute), environmental impacts on health (the Envirome Institute), renewable energy (Conn Center)." (https://louisville.edu/strategic-plan/strategic-plan-2019-2022)

In the wake of the 2020 Breonna Taylor and George Floyd killings, then UofL President Neeli Bendapudi issued a bold anti-racism challenge, stating that "At this important moment in our nation’s history, we pledge to take a stand against the systemic racism that continues to impact all of us, particularly our Black students, faculty and staff, and other stakeholders of color and from historically marginalized groups. We will take concrete action to lead to much-needed change on campus and in our community." (https://louisville.edu/president/special-programs-initiatives/cardinal-anti-racism-agenda) This launched the Cardinal Anti-Racism Agenda which has advocated for public and university policies to tackle structural racism, especially at the local level here in Louisville. In June 2020, President Bendapudi was joined by other Louisville-area college and university presidents to affirm their commitment to finding solutions to end racial inequality. In a joint statement, the presidents announced five ways they plan to address racism in Louisville:
" We pledge to educate ourselves and our own college and university communities to recognize and work against structural racism.
We pledge to work together to improve access to higher education for our African-American and other students of color.
We pledge to create pathways for African-American and other students of color to meaningful and high-demand jobs and careers and acknowledge the need for more Black professionals in healthcare and education and engineering and law as in many other spheres.
We pledge to engage fully and meaningfully in the life of West Louisville.
With our institutional privileges of knowledge, reach, resources, legacy, and more, we pledge to consistently demonstrate our commitment to the objective fact that Black Lives Matter.” (https://www.uoflnews.com/post/uofltoday/bendapudi-joins-other-area-higher-ed-presidents-in-pledging-commitment-to-end-racial-inequality/)

In June 2020, in response to demands of the Black Student Union, President Bendapudi released this statement of top-level commitment for local policy change to address racism and disparities in policing: "Some immediate steps we will commit to take include:
1. Ensure ULPD as Lead Law Enforcement Agency
ULPD will serve as the lead agency in any investigation dealing primarily with a member of the campus community. Joint investigations including LMPD will still occur as dictated by jurisdictional overlap and nature of an incident. This change has already begun, but will be formalized and enforced.
2. Perform Equity Audit in All Criminal Justice Academic Programs
Cherie Dawson-Edwards, in her capacity as department chair and with support from the Office of the Provost, will lead an equity audit of all academic programs. The Department of Criminal Justice offers multiple programs that educate current and future LMPD officers, including police leaders. These courses will be audited for the inclusion of social justice-focused principles in the coursework. The equity audit will include the Police Executive Leadership Development Certificate, BSCJ, MSCJ and Ph.D. programs.
3. Reduce Need for External Law Enforcement Support at Athletics Events
ULPD Chief Lewis and Athletic Director Vince Tyra will find additional and alternative ways to continue to reduce the need to have direct support by outside law enforcement agencies. With a venue the size of Cardinal Stadium, relying upon partnering agencies is a national model, but we will look closely at this partnership while not compromising safety and security for our students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campus venues.
4. Provide Training for All Partnering Officers
Chief Lewis, in partnership with Dr. Dawson-Edwards, students leaders and other UofL constituents, will develop a de-escalation and cultural sensitivity training that will be required for any police officer working a university-sponsored event or hired by ULPD. This training will be developed and deployed no later than the beginning of the fall semester.
5. Leverage Southern Police Institute (SPI) as Catalyst for Change
The Department of Criminal Justice (CJ) and the Southern Police Institute are uniquely positioned to have a positive impact on the current social unrest, in relation to the criminal justice system. Leadership in the department and institute will work together on the following items:
- Curricula has historically been developed to provide training and technical assistance as a result of mandates from the federal government. SPI, in partnership with CJ, has the ability to be “ahead of the curve” and develop a more robust procedural/social justice component which can be used to create new stand-alone classes as well as integrated into our current Police Executive Leadership Development Certificate and Continuing Education curricula.
- Since 1951, the SPI mission has aligned it with the early civil rights movement and traces its actual founding to healing the divide between the police and the minority community. SPI and the Department of CJ are uniquely positioned to sponsor seminars/panels to discuss social or procedural justice issues with our students (including law enforcement students) and featuring police and social justice leaders as speakers to address those “difficult conversations” with our campus community.
- SPI has long standing and large scope access to police leadership all over the United States, through our network of graduates of our education and training programs. This access allows for a direct conduit to the decision/policy makers and today’s American law enforcement community. The respected SPI brand could be used to connect academic and progressive change models with the law enforcement community.

Advocacy for equity and sustainability not only comes from UofL's top administrators, but from the leaders they appoint and the Centers they charter. For example, in the President's January 2022 announcement of the appointment of Cherie Dawson-Edwards as vice provost for faculty affairs, Dr. Gonzalez highlighted the fact that "Prior to her current role, she served as the department chair for A&S Criminal Justice, director of the A&S Social Change Program and acting director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research. Dawson-Edwards is a passionate educator and a justice-oriented scholar who focuses on the intersection of public policy and criminal justice with a specific focus on race, schools and juvenile justice. Throughout her career, she has worked tirelessly for institutional and community change, always striving to bring greater equity and inclusion to the policies and practices of organizations. Outside of her work at UofL, Dawson-Edwards currently serves as the Kentucky affiliate representative on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) with a recent appointment as the nationwide ACLU deputy affiliate equity officer, where she ensures that equity and inclusion has a constant presence in the search and placement of organizational leaders. She has also worked with numerous school districts conducting professional development trainings and consulting on racial equity and workplace restorative justice practices." (https://louisville.edu/codre/news-events/Jan252022AppointmentofViceProvostforFacultyAffairs.pdf)

In addition to this Anti-racist policy work, two well-established UofL Centers chartered by the administration have had a vital role in advocacy for more sustainable public policies in the greater Louisville Metro area:

1. UofL’s Urban Design Studio (UDS) facilitates vital conversations between researchers, the public, and local policymakers about improved strategies to make Louisville a more sustainable city. In November 2021, created The Healthful City Design Studio as a temporary pop-up located in the Republic Building at 429 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. The goal of the effort is to create a unique urban laboratory for innovation where UofL becomes a stronger partner with the community, public officials and others to develop novel solutions to the challenges our city faces. This initiative is an offshoot of the Downtown Revitalization Team’s Action Plan that calls for making downtown more vibrant, clean, safe and welcoming.

The design of cities directly affects human and environmental health, and with health and ecological disasters unfolding around the globe seemingly daily, urgency is growing for public-health and urban-design professionals to collaborate to improve the built environment. From November 2021 to April 2022, the University of Louisville’s Urban Design Studio (UDS), part of the Department of Urban and Public Affairs, is exploring how the city of Louisville can serve as a living laboratory for research, education and experimentation at the Healthful City Design Studio. This temporary pop-up location, an addition to the current UDS location in the Portland neighborhood, offers a space in which community members can dive into issues and opportunities specific to the heart of downtown.

“This is an exciting opportunity to pull together the threads of urban planning and design, public health, equity, ecology, engineering, economics and more to focus on how these overlapping facets of the city can not only solve problems we face now, but also position our downtown and city for the future,” said UDS Director Patrick Piuma. “I believe we have the talented minds throughout our community to examine these aspects of our city, and our hope is to find ways to unlock the creativity needed to become a leader in this space.”

To kick off the pop-up, Piuma, alongside colleague and entrepreneur Sylvanus Hudson, developed a series of events, workshops, demonstration projects and more to bring together professionals and the local community to explore how the built environment affects health and what it means to be a healthy city. The team is joined by collaborators from other UofL departments, Louisville Metro Government, the University of Kentucky and related organizations and individuals as the direction of the initiative takes shape.

Early events and activities were focused on outreach and education, getting people together to share ideas about what a healthy city looks like and collaborative demonstration projects to communicate the importance of cooling urban heat islands, improving air and water quality, planting trees and other vegetation, public safety, welcoming environments and the health benefits of reintroducing nature into urban environments.

“The pandemic has revealed the importance of the built environment on health and how valuable safe and healthy places are in promoting public health and resilience,” said Aruni Bhatnagar, director of the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute.

“It is critical for Louisville to invest in its natural and built environments to improve residents’ health, as well as be a competitive city in the 21st Century,” said Jeff O’Brien, co-chief of Louisville Forward. “We can design our cities to prepare us for the changing climate and improve our health, all while making the city a more vibrant and equitable place.”

The UDS initiative draws on past programs such as the Sustainable City Series’ public forums that raised awareness of sustainable practices and has led to place-making projects such as ReSurfaced and CycLOUvia.


2. UofL's Center for Environmental Policy & Management (https://louisville.edu/cepm) and Department of Urban & Public Affairs collaborate with the Metropolitan Housing Coalition to produce a well-researched annual State of Metropolitan Housing Report designed to inform policymakers and advocate for more equitable housing policy and outcomes. The 2020-2021 Report can be found at https://metropolitanhousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/FINAL_MHC_2020-2021-SMHR_web.pdf. Among its findings, in 2020, evictions in Louisville were down from more than twice the national average by 62 percent. In the Report, the group highlights affordable housing recommendations it has for the metro area and it states policies should be supported that entrust the poor with flexible funds and financial decisions, like stimulus payments and unemployment insurance.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level:
1. Following a top-level meeting on June 4, 2021 with UofL President, Neeli Bendapudi, Provost, Lori Gonzalez, CFO Dan Durban, and UofL Foundation Director, Keith Sherman, at which the need for state-level support was commonly agreed upon, the UofL Commonwealth Policy Coalition (http://www.facebook.com/kycpc) was instrumental in drafting legislation in support of the renewable biogas industry which was introduced to the Kentucky House of Representatives on March 1, 2022. The final draft was filed as House Bill 627 by Rep. Sarge Pollock. The CPC also assisted in drafting a senate version with Senator Webb and advocated for the inclusion of additional support for stillage management endeavors like biogas (namely, grant funding and authorized loans from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority). These bills help address a major waste burden and water pollution source from one of Kentucky's largest industries, distillers, by supporting the development of infrastructure (potentially even on UofL's campus) to convert the industry's stillage wastes into methane through anaerobic biodigestion.

2. On January 11, 2020, the University of Louisville hosted the Kentucky Conservation Committee 2020 Legislative Summit, 9am-4pm, in Shumaker Research Building 139. UofL's Sustainability Council, chartered by the University Provost, was proud to host the 2020 Kentucky Conservation Committee (KCC) Annual Meeting and Legislative Summit, featuring detailed information for conservation audiences and our state representatives on Kentucky's 2020 Legislative Session. KCC works to protect Kentucky’s land, air, water and biodiversity by working on legislative solutions in Frankfort. Legislative experts were on hand to answer questions on energy, public lands, biodiversity, climate change and more. Registered participants received detailed advance briefs on key sessions. The schedule included a State Legislative Panel for dialogue with Kentucky Representatives and Senators about key current conservation issues before the legislature. Panelists included Senator Morgan McGarvey, and Representatives Mary Lou Marzian & Lisa Willner.

3. Advocating for a science-informed, comprehensive, regional policy toward the Ohio River watershed, the University of Louisville organized and hosted the Ohio River Basin 2020 Summit from September 30th - October 2nd, 2020. The Ohio River Basin Consortium for Research and Education (ORBCRE) and the Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBA) co-presented this Summit on the theme: "Bridging Visions to Protect Our Health, Economy and Environment in the Ohio River Basin." Conference topics included: Invasive species, HABS, Land Use, Populations, Ecosystem Services and Economics, Nutrients, Policy, Citizen Science, Contaminants of Emerging Concerns, Connectance between Streams and Rivers, Anthropological and Archaeological Research, Outdoor Recreation and Therapeutic Effects, Scientific Communications, Ecosystem Restoration, Abandoned Mine Impacts, Ecological Economics, Invasive Species, Aquatic Biology, ArcGIS Applications, Drought Management, Environmental Policy, Flood Management, Food, Energy and Water Nexus, Geological Science, Hydrological Modeling, Social Hydrology, Stormwater Nutrient Removal and Mitigation, Stormwater BMPs, Watershed Management, Water Quality Impairment Studies, Water Resource Engineering and Management, Story-telling and Ethnography. The Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBA) started the Summit on September 30th by hosting a series of implementation workshops for the Ohio River Basin Plan 2020. The six workshops were based on the goals of the Ohio River Basin Plan:
• Reliable Flood Control and Risk Reduction
• River Transportation Corridor
• Healthy, Productive Ecosystems
• World-Class Recreation Opportunities
• Abundant Clean Water
• Knowledge-Informed Decisions

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level:
Announced by President Neeli Pendapudi in 2018 and formally endorsed by its incorporation as a "Grand Challenge" within the 2019-2022 UofL Strategic Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees (see page 16 at https://louisville.box.com/s/88635hgqartgmqi7vty27w57rapi9jw5), the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute at UofL was created to advocate for better policy at the national level through rigorous scientific study to document the connections between environmental and human health. (https://louisville.edu/envirome/)

Through the Envirome Institute, in the past three years, the University of Louisville has broken new ground in advocacy nationally for policies to increase equitable access to greenspace from a public health perspective. In late 2018, many UofL researchers affiliated with the Institute published new research online in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the open access journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The findings demonstrate that people who live in leafy, green neighborhoods may have a lower risk of developing heart disease and strokes. In this study, the first of its kind, researchers from the University of Louisville investigated the impact of neighborhood greenspaces on individual-level markers of stress and cardiovascular disease risk. “Our study shows that living in a neighborhood dense with trees, bushes and other green vegetation may be good for the health of your heart and blood vessels,” said Aruni Bhatnagar, PhD, lead study author and professor of medicine and director of the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute and the Smith and Lucille Gibson Chair in Medicine. “Indeed, increasing the amount of vegetation in a neighborhood may be an unrecognized environmental influence on cardiovascular health and a potentially significant public health intervention.” Co-authors of this study are Ray Yeager, Ph.D.; Daniel W. Riggs, M.S.; Natasha DeJarnett, Ph.D.; David J. Tollerud, Ph.D.; Jeffrey Wilson, Ph.D.; Daniel J. Conklin, Ph.D.; Timothy E. O’Toole, Ph.D.; James McCracken, Ph.D.; Pawel Lorkiewicz, Ph.D.; Xie Zhengzhi, Ph.D.; Nagma Zafar, M.D., Ph.D.; Sathya S. Krishnasamy, M.D.; Sanjay Srivastava, Ph.D.; Jordan Finch, M.S.; Rachel J. Keith, Ph.D.; Andrew DeFilippis, M.D.; Shesh N. Rai, Ph.D. and Gilbert Liu, M.D. (https://www.uoflnews.com/post/uofltoday/neighborhoods-with-more-greenspace-may-mean-less-heart-disease/)

As another example of the impact of the Envirome's affiliated faculty, UofL Assistant Professor of Medicine, Natasha K. DeJarnett, Ph.D., MPH, has worked to document the social determinants of health and the disparate impacts of pollution, lack of vegetation, and climate change on vulnerable populations. Dr. DeJarnett and her Envirome collaborators have published numerous articles and appeared on national media, television, and podcasts to advocate for policies to reduce exposure to pollution and vulnerability to climate change, including hospitality and sanctuary. In recognition of her many contributions, Dr. DeJarnett was awarded the School of Public Health and Information Sciences 2017 Alumna of the Year by the University of Louisville.

National Newspaper Publishers Association & Black Press USA TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pd2mGOeFCs
Citizens' Climate Radio: https://soundcloud.com/citizensclimateradio/hospitality-in-a-time-of-climate-change

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level:
1. As a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), UofL and its Center for Healthy Air, Water, and Soil advocates for pollution prevention at the international level, using research findings demonstrating the disparate health outcomes of pollution on marginalized and vulnerable populations. SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. SDSN members aim to accelerate joint learning and promote integrated approaches that address the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world. SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society. As UofL President Bendapudi stated in fall 2018, when UofL joined SDSN, “Inclusion in this international effort recognizes our efforts over the decades to impact our world in a meaningful way when it comes to sustainability. From the Conn Center looking for renewable energy sources and our university-wide efforts to reduce our carbon footprint to our recent creation of the Envirome Institute that focuses on health sustainability, we have a long history of trying to leave a better planet.”

2. Over the last three years, UofL Urban & Public Affairs professor, Dr. John Gilderbloom and his graduate students, have actively worked on behalf of UofL to help policy-makers connect the dots between high levels of toxins and livability in neighborhoods. They argue in public meetings, media pieces, and peer-reviewed articles that sustainability and health are the outcomes of thoughtful urban design that prioritizes walkability, bikeability, transit, traffic calming, trees and green space, and low-toxicity land use. A recent representative publication was: Gilderbloom, J. H., W.L. Meares, and G.D. Squires (2020) “Pollution, place and premature death: Evidence from a midsized city.” Local Environment: International Journal of Sustainability and Justice, (https://doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2020.1754776). 2022 will see additional professional articles coming out in the International Journal of Strategic Energy and Planning, Social Policy, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and others. For his work, in 2013, Dr. Gilderbloom won the University of Louisville's highest honor for research, the Presidential Medal Distinguished Faculty Award for Research and Creative Activity. More information at https://urbanlouisville.org/gilderbloom

A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability advocacy efforts is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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