Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.24
Liaison Rob Andrejewski
Submission Date March 4, 2022

STARS v2.2

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
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:

ENVR 300 - The Paradox of the Cultivated Wild (2020-2021): As a part of the "Paint-Out Pollution" initiative, stencils of the creatures impacted by runoff pollution are spray painted on campus sidewalks near storm drains. The project was initiated by students aiming to engage the campus community in spreading community awareness for vulnerable species in the watershed in the Spring of 2021. The stencils are part of a program from the James River Association. (Carrie Wu, FA20-SP21)


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:

ENVR 300 - Paradox of the Cultivated Wild: Students published "Keepers of the Creek" booklets, an activity book for ages 8-12 filled with educational, hands-on activities that encourage creativity and movement. These are accessible by the public near the Little Free Library outside of Abby's Garden. (Carrie Wu - FA20-SP21)

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. https://engage.richmond.edu/courses-scholarship/index.html


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:

GEOG 250 - Planet Earth: Wind, Water: The Earth is changing in unprecedented ways. This course introduces the characteristics and interrelationships of the Earth's climates, landforms, soils, and natural vegetation, with special emphasis on human relationships with their environment. The subject matter is particularly relevant to current social and scientific interest in global climate change and the spatial inequalities in environmental pollution and resources that benefit some communities and disadvantage others. The material is global in scale, though we will illustrate many of the concepts using local examples from campus and the city of Richmond. (Lookingbill, FA21)

IDST 190 - What’s Hot in the City Seminar; How can society create and sustain thriving, equitable environments in modern cities? Students will hear firsthand from local environmental leaders and learn about recent environmental initiatives in Richmond like RVAH2O and RVAgreen 2050, the City’s ongoing effort to create an equity-centered climate action plan. Students will contribute to these initiatives by gathering new data to map distributions of temperature, air pollution, and water quality in the City as group projects. (Lookingbill, SP22)

BIOL 120 - Modern Concepts in Biology/IDST 290 - Toxic Communities: Having access to the natural resources necessary to sustain health and livelihood is an essential human right. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, certain populations have not been afforded this right. Several studies have demonstrated that communities of color and those from lower-socioeconomic backgrounds are disproportionately impacted by air and water pollution. In this course, students investigate the social, political, and economic factors that contribute to this disparity. We begin by reviewing the history of the environmental justice movement in the United States. Students examine the social and political factors that contribute to populations being disproportionately impacted by environmental pollutants. Students are able to apply concepts learned in the classroom to real-life experiences through experiential learning opportunities. We meet with experts in the fields of air and water quality. We travel to a local water treatment plant and to the EPA Human Studies Facility to learn how government agencies are working to protect citizens from the dangers of environmental pollutants. We will also visit the Richmond City Health Department to learn more about their Lead Safe Richmond Program. In addition, we will meet with various members of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative. The VEJC is made up of 29 member organizations including community-based non-profits, faith-based, conservation and green organizations, as well as members in academia who are all passionate about protecting at-risk populations from the negative impacts of environmental pollutants. (Shannon Jones, FA21-SP22)


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:

GEOG 210 - Planet Earth: People and Place: Buildings – Class has a module on green construction, discuss features, and green building overall and visit LEED buildings on campus. That is followed by sustainable urban design mock-ups that cover a specific sustainable features, such as reduced, circulating, and clean flows of materials, place for nature, connected patterns of, creative place-making, and well-being

GEOG/ENVR/BIOL 315 - Landscape Ecology: On the southern part of campus in the Eco-Corridor are the concrete remains of a historic wastewater treatment facility. According to the UR Collegian's Westham Project, the plant was built in the early 1900s after UR moved its campus to the current location. In the 1930s, the city ran water and sewer lines to campus, and the treatment plant was closed. The class reviewed the function of the facility, as well as the archaeological survey that included a nearby earthen dam constructed in the early 1800s. (Lookingbill, FA20)


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Energy:

PHYS 123 - Physics of Renewable Energy. The class discusses the physics behind climate change and renewable energy. This is a lab component includes collection of data from various systems, including the 205kW solar array on top of the Weinstein Center at UR, and derive conclusions from the data. (Mariama Rebello de Sousa Dias, SP22)


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Food & Dining:

GEOG 210 - Planet Earth: People and Place: Students research commodities they consume from production sites to transport to them end user. They then research a food-related topic and construct Storymaps to share the journey of their food, as well as the social and ecological implications of a food they consume regularly. The projects are informed by readings on food and food systems (papaya, sugar, Fiji water, bananas), pesticides, gardens, and farmers markets.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Grounds:

BIOL/ENVR 109 - Introduction to Ecology: Pollinators are used as flagship species for students learning about co-evolution, life cycles, population sizes, migration, community composition, ecological threats, ecosystem services, the Endangered Species Act and conservation. Students in this course take part in one group research project and one independent project during the semester. During the group research project, students work together to develop a research question and study design, collect and analyze data and present results in a formal lab report; work includes planting and monitoring the campus Pollinator Meadows for one or both of these activities. (Jen Sevin, Fall 21)

ENVR 201 - Introduction to Environmental Studies: Students in ENVR 201 study the Eco-Corridor, focusing on the evaluation of impact and recommendations for the future of the area. There is also be a general volunteer component to maintain the Eco-Corridor, which focused on planting of native species (boneset and milkweed) in Fall 2021. (Emily Boone, FA 21)

BIOL 199 - Introduction to Biological Thinking: Biology of Mammals: Students test the effects of environmental variables on mammalian behaviors using camera traps with infrared triggers. The camera traps record temperature, atmospheric pressure, moon phase, and time/date and we have typically compared on- versus off-campus locations for mammal behavior and activity. The on-campus site we usually use is the Gambles Mill Eco-corridor. This module consists of 2-4 weeks of data collection (students are involved in trap placement and retrieval) and then a week or two of data analysis and presentations. (Jory Brinkerhoff, SP22)


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:

MGMT 348 - Environmental Management: Members of the class participated in the Sustainable Solutions Challenge in two separate years, one year related to single-use plastics and the other composting. For the single-use plastics, the goal was to reduce need for purchases of plastic disposables in Dining Services retail and convenience store locations. Students evaluated campus purchasing practices, interviewed stakeholders, and proposed alternatives to single use plastic items to Dining Services. Teams of four students presented their research to staff and administrators. (Sutton, SP20)


IIs the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:

AMST 381/THTR 249 - Public Transportation in the Time of Two Pandemics: The importance of public transportation is the central focus of a new project led by American Studies professor Laura Browder and theatre professor Patricia Herrera. Browder and Herrera taught “Public Transportation in the Time of Two Pandemics: A Documentary Project," a course focusing on the importance of public transportation in Richmond. The project also examined the families of the GRTC Transit System and the effect of both COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement on GRTC. Working with students, they created an archive and a digital exhibition. Browder and Herrera are also partnering with Alexandra Byrum, UR’s director of communications and community relations for equity and community, on a permanent exhibition, which will be on display at the headquarters of GRTC. (Browder and Herrera, FA21)


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:

MKT 329 - Sustainable Marketing: At the University of Richmond, sustainability means creating environmental, social, and economic conditions that foster health and well-being for people and the natural world in this generation and generations to come. There are several programs at the University of Richmond that helps fulfill this sustainability-related mission. Students enrolled in Marketing Sustainability will be asked to help develop a solution that creates greater student awareness, engagement, and participation in the Rethink Waste Program. For this project, students work in teams composed of four members. The main deliverable for this project is a written description and presentation of your solution specifically addressing how and to what extent your solution will increase student awareness, engagement, and participation.

MGMT 348 - Environmental Management: Members of the class participated in the Sustainable Solutions Challenge in two separate years, one year related to single-use plastics and the other composting. For the composting year, the goal was to help educate on composting and improve collection practices. Students evaluated the Rethink Waste program and proposed collection, bin design, and signage ideas to improve composting outreach and effectiveness. Teams of four students presented their research to staff and administrators.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:

BIOL/ENVR 199 - Coastal Bay Ecology: This class is an introductory class to the biology major. The main tie-ins to the Eco-Corridor in this class relate to water quality, watersheds and experimental design. Students begin the semester examining the watersheds that drain into the James River and Chesapeake Bay. Students use observation, maps and google earth to consider the hydrologic cycle as it relates to UR’s campus and land use (both current and historic). Students learn about water quality parameters and identify sites along the Eco-Corridor (depending on construction) to perform testing in an effort to establish baseline data. In October 2020, a fish survey on Little Westham Creek was conducted alongside local experts. Initial results were encouraging with a mix of species from Westhampton Lake and the James River. (Emily Boone, FA 20)


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:

GEOG 401/ENVR 391 - Environmental Studies/Geography and the Environment Senior Seminar: Students research and propose innovations to help the University meet various goals in the University of Richmond Sustainability Plan. Topics include carbon emissions reductions, tree surveys, restoration projects, and water quality improvements. All of the projects include an Outreach component. (Lookingbill and Smallwood, SP22)


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:

RHCS 412 - Streets, Spaces, and Structures: In recent years, college campuses across the United States have been compelled to confront the question, "What’s in a name?" As the Chronicle of Higher Education summarized, "And what is a university’s responsibility when the name on a statue, building, or program on campus is a painful reminder of hard to a specific racial group?" Joining a national conversation surrounding the meaning of the names of streets, spaces, and structures, the University of Richmond considers a response to calls to rename Ryland and Freeman Halls on campus. Over the course of the semester, students engaged in the debates surrounding building renamings by focusing on a particular case study on the University of Richmond campus: Freeman Hall. Named after Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Robert E. Lee, Douglas Southall Freeman was a journalist and editor of the Richmond News Leader. A man known to have saluted the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue each day as he passed en route to his office, Freeman is a mythical figure whose name not only commemorates a dorm on UR’s campus but local schools across the region. Engaging with a range of primary source documents and contributing to the growing inquiry into Freeman’s life, students analyzed Freeman’s editorials as well as writings about Freeman to better understand and contextualize a man who was both actively constructing his own myth as well as being defined by popular media. In this way, the course aims to explore the many Douglas Southall Freemans in public circulation, reading them within the context of the Lost Cause in popular and public culture. (Nicole Maurantonio, SP20)

CLSC 220 - Introduction to Archaeology: How can we read the past? What can we learn about people and societies, past and present, from their material remains? This course provides an introduction to archaeological method and theory, with special focus on the archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean basin, the Richmond area, and our own campus. We will study artifacts excavated near Maryland Hall that are probably associated with an early 20th-century amusement park and consider how the park contributed to the erasure of the memory of slavery on this land. Final projects will explore how further archaeological research could shed new light on the lives of the people who were enslaved here and on neighboring African American communities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (Lizzie Baughan, FA20)

This co-taught course explores how to use dance and the arts as a vehicle for, what historical strategist Free Egunfemi calls, Commemorative Justice. Using the University of Richmond as a site of inquiry, we will reckon with the history of our own campus from a plantation before the Civil War to a black-owned land and home of a mutual aid society.

DANC 319/AMST 381/WGSS - Collaborative Arts Lab: Dance, Humanities, and Technology: Gravesites are constant reminders of people’s living stories. When we deny the existence of a cemetery, we deny the existence of people. We will thus pay particular attention to three burial grounds — the burial ground for enslaved people located behind the administrative offices of UR, the Sons and Daughters of Ham Cemetery on the outskirts of campus and the East End Cemetery in the City of Richmond. We will work on two site-specific commemorative projects that will engage with the history of these burial grounds and honor the lives of black people who are buried beneath the land we walk on. It is in the process of embodying this history that we can collectively grapple with a racial past that still haunts us today. Inspired by the goals of the Institutional History Cohort to engage students in the history of the land we occupy and its legacy as well as the East End Cemetery Collaboratory to engage students in the reclamation and preservations of East End Cemetery, a historic African American burial ground, students worked with faculty to collaboratively create a commemorative act honoring the lives of indigenous and black enslaved people who stewarded this land. A short film, "Knowledge of This Cannot be Hidden": Westham Burying Ground Commemorative Act at the University of Richmond, was created by students in the class as well as two students from "Gender, Race, and Performance Across the Americas" and guest artist Kevin LaMarr Jones (’94). (Alicia Diaz and Patricia Herrera, SP20)

East End Cemetery Collaboratory Courses: East End Cemetery is a historic African American burial ground in Henrico County and the city of Richmond, Virginia. In 2017–18, faculty from UR and VCU, along with members of the Friends of East End, formed a learning community called the East End Cemetery Collaboratory. The Collaboratory's mission is to support the years-long effort to restore the cemetery by engaging students and faculty across disciplines and institutions. Their work entails the curation and documentation of African American history and culture in Richmond, as well as the reclamation of the cemetery site. The Collaboratory aims to produce place-based knowledge that contributes to a community dialogue about our collective past.
Biology 202: Integrated Biological Principles II
Biology 336: Eco-epidemiology
Classics 220: Introduction to Archaeology
Dance 319: Collaborative Arts Lab: Dance, Humanities, and Technology
First-Year Seminar: Death and Commemoration in Antiquity
First-Year Seminar: Representing Civil Rights in Richmond
First-Year Seminar: Why Do We Build?
Religion 358/American Studies 381: Richmond: City of the Dead


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:

ECON/ENVR 230 - Environmental Economics: The course uses economic principles and analysis to study environmental problems and solutions. An important component of the course is environmental policy, specifically how to design regulations in the most efficient way. The Eco-Corridor is a study topic. Students spend time analyzing the following questions: What policy led to the creation of a nutrient loading offset program? What were the objectives and expectations of that policy? What incentives did the University of Richmond have to participate in this program? What costs are borne by the University? What benefits accrue to the University? What incentives did the City of Richmond have to participate in this program? What costs are borne by the City? What benefits accrue to the City? What alternatives exist for addressing this environmental problem? How effective have they been? How do they compare to this offset program? What other projects/programs could be of interest to the University? (Tim Hamilton, SP20)

ACCT 329: Fundamentals of Financial Accounting - Students volunteered as certified tax preparers with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at various United Way partner sites across the Richmond region. (van der Laan Smith, SP21)


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

ENVR 300 - The Paradox of the Cultivated Wild (2020-2021): Students in this course created a mindfulness tour of the Eco-Corridor and created a space for for community input and reflection as a part of mindfulness campaign. People are invited to listen to a recorded mindfulness session, including nature sound recordings from the Eco-Corridor (transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BUx3G6a34z7q9Tw-xfF7djTwpFLSIko6oEA3kfQONzA/edit)

AMST 381/THTR 249 - Public Transportation in the Time of Two Pandemics: The importance of public transportation is the central focus of a new project led by American Studies professor Laura Browder and theatre professor Patricia Herrera. Browder and Herrera taught “Public Transportation in the Time of Two Pandemics: A Documentary Project," a course focusing on the importance of public transportation in Richmond. The project also examined the families of the GRTC Transit System and the effect of both COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement on GRTC. Working with students, they created an archive and a digital exhibition. Browder and Herrera are also partnering with Alexandra Byrum, UR’s director of communications and community relations for equity and community, on a permanent exhibition, which will be on display at the headquarters of GRTC. (Browder and Herrera, FA21)


Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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