Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.64
Liaison Rob Andrejewski
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Richmond
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Rob Andrejewski
Director of Sustainability
Office for 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:

In ENVR 201: Intro to Environmental Studies course, taught by Dr. Finley-Brook, students looked at the ability of community solar to address climate change and solar justice issues in Richmond and other areas of Virginia. The class analyzed the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats posed by solar projects at various scales (regional, national, local) in class research projects, and presented results to local community members. Link to research: https://geoyapti.wordpress.com/community-solar/


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:

In GEOG 345, "Global Sustainability" taught by Dr. Salisbury, a group of students committed their semester long project to exploring the viability of adding tiny houses as a campus housing option to allow students to live a more sustainable lifestyle. The final product included a presentation of a fully researched proposal to include tiny houses on campus. One student will present the findings at the American Association of Geographers annual meeting this spring. (Fall 2018).


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:

Students in Dr. Litteral's BUAD 202 class worked with the Office for Sustainability and solar developer Secure Futures to analyze the efficiency of the 205kW solar array on top of the Weinstein Center at UR. Students worked to determine the effectiveness of the different configurations of the panels in the array and made recommendations based on their findings.

Students in Dr. David Kitchen and Dr. David Salisbury’s ENVR 391/GEOG 401 "Environmental Studies Senior Seminar" & "Geography Capstone" analyzed solar initiatives in Richmond and the state of Virginia at different scales. The class included field trips to a solar farm, an analysis of the University of Richmond’s existing solar panels, and bringing in outside expert speakers. Students will produce various products, such as papers and maps, as a result of their analyses. (Spring 2019, Fall 2018, Spring 2018)


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:

SOC 335: Feast & Famine: Inequalities in the Global Food System analyzes the socio-economic, political, and cultural construction of food systems. Topics included global institutions that impact the flow of food around the world; regional relationships pertaining to food trade; and local relationships between producers, retailers, and consumers. Class members worked with Shalom Farms, a local community agriculture advocate, and UR Dining Services staff to analyze sustainable dining options on campus.

In ENVR 391/GEOG 401 "Environmental Studies Senior Seminar" and "Geography Capstone," taught by Dr. Salisbury, a group of students developed a proposal to incorporate tray-less dining into the university’s dining hall as a result of their semester long capstone project. Another group focused produced a paper analyzing food security (Spring 2017).


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:

As part of an international conservation effort to protect the declining monarch population, University of Richmond students have been raising, tagging, and releasing monarch butterflies. Under the leadership of biology professor Jennifer Sevin, students in ecology and environmental biology build pollinator gardens on campus, released monarchs raised in the lab, and worked with local elementary school children on pollinator education.

Students in BIOL 199, "Animals in Extreme Environments" tagged turtles in the Westhampton Lake on campus, in order to measure species resilience.

In BIOL 202, "Integrated Biological Principles Part 2," taught by Dr. Emily Boone, students created traps for small organisms to walk over in Little Westham Creek, behind the student commons building, in order to measure the creek's biodiversity levels.

In GEOG 390, an Independent Study on "Dendrology and GIS" a student is working with Dr. Todd Lookingbill to study trees on campus, applying Arc GIS skills to update and verify a digital map of all trees on campus. Data he collects includes species, height, and DBH (diameter at breast height). From this information, he is calculating the biomass of trees and figuring out how much carbon each individual tree contains. He will also be making a proposal at the end of the semester for signs to begin an arboretum on campus. (Spring 2019)


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

In Dr. Salisbury’s GEOG 210, “Geographic Dimensions of Human Development,” students created ArcGIS Online Storymaps focused on tracing a campus commodity from point of origin to point of consumption with all of the environmental and social impacts during process and transport (Spring 2018, Spring 2019).


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:

In ENVR 201, "Intro to Environmental Studies," taught by Dr. Emily Boone, students had to complete a project focused on exploring a sustainability issue in the Richmond community that connected with the University. One group of students decided to focus on transportation in the city of Richmond, and as a result created a video showing students how to use public transportation to get from campus to downtown Richmond, as well as an analysis of the transportation system's ease of use. (Fall 2017).
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P4ZoIy7ScY


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:

Students in various ENVR 201, "Intro to Environmental Studies" courses, taught by Dr. Emily Boone, and Dr. Jennifer Stevens actively participate in the university’s waste audit process, sorting through recycling and waste bins to get a better understanding of how individuals contribute to larger waste and recycling challenges and providing ongoing audit data for longitudinal tracking of the University's Rethink Waste efforts (Fall & Spring, 2017-2019).

In Dr. Salisbury’s GEOG 401/ENVR 391 "Environmental Studies Senior Seminar" and "Geography Capstone," a group of students developed a proposal for a waste bio-digester as part of their semester long project (Spring 2017).


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:

In GEOG 215/ENVR 215, "Geography of the James River Watershed," Living-Learning Community taught by Dr. Todd Lookingbill, students exercise and hone skills of critical observation related to geography and water by working firsthand at the James River, connecting the theory learned in class to the practice of natural resource management in the local community. The course begins with a field trip on the river in which initial impressions of the region’s natural resources will be made. These impressions are deconstructed in class as part of the core lecture material. During the rest of the semester we work with a local practitioner on projects related to conservation in the watershed. These independent projects vary from year to year. For example, in one year the class worked with the James River Park System on projects including improved mapping of the park and treatment of invasive plants in the park. Local experts on the watershed also participate in the course as guest lecturers. A final project ties together the lecture and field-based components of the course (Fall 2016, Fall 2018).
Link to course info: https://livinglearning.richmond.edu/ssir/james-river/index.html


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:

Students in Dr. Smallwood's Environmental Studies Senior Seminar course, the capstone course for Environmental Studies majors, supported the development of a campus-wide survey to solicit information for UR's first Sustainability Plan, developed proposals for inclusion in the plan that would advance sustainability at the university and improve UR's STARS score, and provided short summaries of the sustainability programs of eight of the top ten most sustainable liberal arts colleges in the nation. This was done in conjunction with Office for Sustainability benchmarking and engagement efforts. The students also provided feedback and advice on early plan drafts.


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

LDST 205, The Jepson School’s Justice and Civil Society course explores the meaning and practice of justice in contemporary society and gives students an opportunity to apply what they have learned on campus and in the community. Students read about and debate theories of justice and study poverty and other socio-economic problems and then serve populations in need by volunteering in nonprofit organizations throughout Greater Richmond.

SOC 279, The System: The System takes many forms. It is The Market, The Media, and The Man. It is Transportation, Criminal Justice, and The University. And all of its forms are interconnected. This class's task is to notice The System, to develop ways of analyzing its various guises and effects, to explore how we can affect it, and to predict its future. Students in this class contemplate their own relationships to The System. Through discussions, readings, movies and videos, excursions, and experimentation, we immerse ourselves in thinking about The System and its many forms. We will ask: How does The System work? How has it changed over time? Who or what controls and maintains it? Whose interests does it serve or curtail? Does it undermine or support such values as democracy and community? What can we learn from those who’ve tried to escape or resist it? What does science fiction teach us about its future? For answering these questions we will borrow tools from a wide range of fields, including sociology, cultural studies, American studies, economics, philosophy, popular culture, and future studies. Students will learn to demystify and analyze complex social systems, plan and facilitate course units on topics of their choice, explore their agency in relation to The System, interrogate their responsibility for its effects (with special emphasis on social inequities), and, drawing lessons and inspiration from science fiction, utilize these skills in predicting The System’s future.

The Richmond Families Initiative (RFI) addresses community-identified needs of Richmond-area children and families through partnerships between the University of Richmond and community organizations. An issue-based program focused on children and families, RFI connects UR and community resources in order to build our region’s capacity to support families and children. UR students who are interested in understanding the needs of vulnerable children and families volunteer with organizations to address those needs are a through RFI (Fall & Spring, 2017-19).


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:

In ENVR 201: Intro to Environmental Studies course, taught by Mary Finley-Brook, students conducted research to complete a Life Cycle Analysis and SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of the University’s recent investment in a large-scale renewable energy project. The analysis includes information on financing and budgets, employment created by the project, and the environmental and social impacts of: inputs/raw materials, processing and manufacturing, distribution of materials, construction phases, disposal, the institutions involved in the project. (Fall 2018). Link to research document: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kG_YTkF82w3_vX5Q175oq_COq9Hjq8RkGUyzQSWA4wQ/edit?usp=sharing


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:

The Bonner Center for Civic Engagement offers a multitude of resources to encourage Community-Based Learning (CBL). CBL courses fully integrate classroom and community elements. Faculty design projects to respond to community-identified needs, and the community partners often become co-educators. Students in CBL classes also act as co-educators rather than passive recipients, engaging in the community, reflecting on experiences, and adding their insights to the educational content of the course. (Fall & Spring, 2017-2019). http://engage.richmond.edu/cbl/index.html

The course list can be found here: https://engage.richmond.edu/cbl/courses/index.html


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:

In keeping with the University's objective of fostering knowledge and personal well-being, every undergraduate student will complete a four part wellness series prior to graduation. WELL 090, Personal Sustainability, helps student develop an understanding of their personal impact on the environment and how the choices they make every day can reduce their impact. Students learn about the University's how the environmental footprint and their own resource consumption affects planetary and personal health. Activities to support the well-being of students and ecosystems are explored.

Students in GEOG 345, “Global Dimensions of Sustainable Development” taught by Dr. Salisbury Created the Riverfront UR Project: a proposal to create an instructional, research, and recreational space on the James River within 1 mile of campus. This concluded experiential learning bike trip down Gambles Mill Corridor and across the James River (Fall 2017, Fall 2016).


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:

In Dr. Salisbury’s GEOG 401/ ENVR 391 "Environmental Studies Senior Seminar" and "Geography Capstone," a group of students developed a proposal to incorporate sustainability into students first year experience through various orientation activities and measures to incorporate sustainability into campus culture (Culture, Fall 2017).

A student in a "Mathematical Modeling in Biology and Medicine "(MATH 304) course taught by Dr. Caudill conducted research on diseases plaguing citrus fruits in Central America, and created a mathematical model to better understand and predict how disease spreads among the fruits (Technology, Fall 2017).


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