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

STARS v2.2

University of Richmond
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Kelsey Fastabend
Sustainability Program Coordinator
Office for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an active student group focused on sustainability?:
Yes

Name and a brief description of the active student groups focused on sustainability:

GreenUR is University of Richmond's student-led sustainability and environmental advocacy club. The group acts as a resource through which students can engage with opportunities for service, activism, and education both on and off campus. In addition to being student-centered, they aim to act as a voice and representative body of University of Richmond in support of sustainable practices in the broader Richmond community.

Outdoors Club is an organization which focuses on creating a sense of community for outdoors enthusiasts by hosting events on-campus, weekend hikes in Virginia, and extended trips across the country over fall and/or spring break.

The Environmental Law Society is a student organization dedicated to learning about and raising awareness of legal issues in the environment. This organization is devoted to fostering sustainable lifestyles and being mindful of our impact on the environment. Annual events include national lobbying opportunities, partnering and volunteering with an environmental non-profit, outdoor social activities, and events with environmental speakers.

SEEDS (Students Engaging & Enacting Dialogue on Service) Project is a student-run organization that focuses on engaging students in meaningful and sustainable service projects as well as dialogue centered around the social justice and environmental issues in specific communities. SEEDS offers three alternative spring break trips each year to the Gulf Region of Louisiana, the Appalachian Region of West Virginia, and the Detroit area of Michigan to learn about environmental and social issues in those areas and complete service projects.

University of Richmond Sustainability Advocates (URSA) is a program dedicated to promoting sustainability and environmentally responsible behavior on campus. URSA educates students, supports Office for Sustainability efforts, and hosts events.


Does the institution have a garden, farm, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, or an urban agriculture project where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:
Yes

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:

The Abby Ayers Community Garden, known as Abby’s Garden, was founded in 2009 thanks to the efforts of President Emeritus Edward Ayer’s wife and a group of dedicated staff. The garden has brought together students, faculty, and staff to grow all sorts of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. In 2020, Abby’s Garden was renovated and expanded as part of the Gambles Mill Eco-Corridor construction. The garden now includes 32 raised beds of 3 different sizes, a covered picnic pavilion, 3 new water hydrants, and a community tool shed. U-shaped keyhole beds, firm mulch paths, and direct proximity to the main paved Eco-Corridor path make the area more accessible for gardeners using wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Since its founding, Abby’s Garden has adhered to organic practices. To help support a healthy ecosystem and to reduce residue on produce, no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides are used. Sticking to organic practices helps protect the health of our gardeners and our surrounding environment. Beyond environmental health, digging in the dirt can also help reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing!

There are 28 beds available to any member of the University of Richmond campus community, including faculty, staff, and students. Basic tools for gardeners, including hand tools, gloves, rakes, and shovels, are all available for shared use and are stored in our newly constructed tool shed. A committee of faculty, staff, and students oversee the garden and facilitate the lottery process each spring.

Students also have the opportunity through the campus's Bonner Center for Civic Engagement to volunteer with urban agriculture and community garden projects throughout the city. Organizations that students have volunteered with include Shalom Farms and the Peter Paul Development Center's community garden. Through volunteering, students learn about growing food, urban agriculture, and food access throughout the city of Richmond.


Does the institution have a student-run enterprise that includes sustainability as part of its mission statement or stated purpose?:
Yes

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

A new Bench Top Innovations course, a pilot program offered by the Robins School of Business in partnership with UR's Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative (CIE), aims to take a product from ideation to revenue-generation in less than nine months. In Fall 2021, students in the inaugural class studied food trends, decided where to focus, and created innovative products in a kitchen on UR's campus. The class is now working on launching "Absurd Snacks" to the marketplace. All of the proposed projects had a sustainability element.


Does the institution have a sustainable investment fund, green revolving fund, or sustainable microfinance initiative through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:

University of Richmond has a Green Revolving Fund (GRF) that supports projects that reduce the University’s environmental impact, provide a long-term economic return, and promote education and engagement of campus stakeholders. The cost-savings generated by the GRF projects are tracked and used to replenish the fund for the next round of projects, making the GRF a sustainable funding mechanism. The savings generated by these efficiency projects are used to justify and fund additional conservation projects.

Monetary savings that result from the completion of each project are transferred from general funds to the GRF on an annual basis until the cost of the project is paid in full. An additional 10 percent of the savings from the project are transferred into the GRF after the project cost has been repaid. There are two students on the Green Revolving Fund selection team.


Has the institution hosted a conference, speaker series, symposium, or similar event focused on sustainability during the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:
Yes

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia, or similar events focused on sustainability:

Each year the Department of Geography & the Environment, the Environmental Studies Program and International Studies Program partner to bring noteworthy speakers and scholars to Richmond to present lectures related to our global environment.

The Bonner Center for Civic Engagement also hosts a weekly Perspectives Discussion Series (formerly called Brown Bag Discussion Series), consisting of speakers focused on provocative social issues. Recent Perspectives sessions focused on sustainability include "Beyond Bees: All About Pollinators", "Climate Activism in Chile & Virginia", and "All We Can Save".

Additionally, there are weekly presentations as part of a Biology Seminar series. Some presentations are focused on sustainability.

The School of Arts and Sciences hosts a symposium each year where student researchers exhibit their scholarly work, including sustainability-focused work. Three sustainability research awards are given out.

Lastly, the Office for Sustainability hosts multiple Introduction to Sustainability presentations every semester to give students an overview of sustainability efforts at the University and how they can get involved.


Has the institution hosted a cultural arts event, installation, or performance focused on sustainability with the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:
Yes

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations, or performances focused on sustainability:

Every year, University of Richmond participates in a city-wide Environmental Film festival by hosting a free screening of a sustainability-themed documentary. The 2022 film is "Inhabitants." Past films include, "Planetary", "Here's to Flint", "Wasted! The Story of Food Waste", "Drowning in Plastic", and "Gather". These screenings are open to students, staff, faculty, and the public. Screenings are accompanied by a guest speaker, a panel discussion, and/ or local sustainability organizations tabling.

One of our on-campus museums, the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, features environmentally- and sustainability-themed installations. The museum is open to students and partners with various UR classes throughout the year.

"Alterations: Tailored Solutions for Climate Change" is a semester-long art exhbit at University of Richmond's Harnett Museum of Art. The exhibition features sculptural pieces that examine topics like the ecological and social cost of the fashion industry, agriculture, pollinator significance, waste, and human connections to the land and sea.

Small Island Big Song features eight indigenous musicians who are sharing stories of climate change and cultural awareness through song. The University is hosting a concert in March 2022.


Does the institution have a wilderness or outdoors program that follow Leave No Trace principles?:
Yes

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:

The University's Outdoor Adventure and Recreation Program (OAR) offers a wide range of trips each fall and spring, including hikes, kayaking, tubing, camping, skiing, rock climbing, and mountain biking. All of the scheduled trips involve educating participants on outdoor ethics and risk management. OAR also hosts custom trips for specific courses, river cleanup events, and University sports teams. OAR hosts the Appalachian Trail Adventure pre-orientation program for 20 incoming freshmen.

The Earth Lodge Living Learning Community participates in outdoor activities that include hiking and camping in state and national parks.

There is also a student Rock Climbing Club at the University. All of these groups make their best efforts to plan ahead and travel by trail, concentrate their activity, clean up after themselves, and leave what they find behind. The University Recreation and Wellness center also provides camping and kayaking equipment for rental to students as well as information about outdoor recreation opportunities.

A student-run Outdoors Club focuses on nature-based recreation, including hiking, biking, surfing, climbing, and backpacking.


Has the institution had a sustainability-focused theme chosen for a themed semester, year, or first-year experience during the previous three years?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-focused themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

University of Richmond offers students the chance to participate in Sophomore Scholars in Residence (SSIR) communities, programs that combine a traditional academic course with co-curricular learning activities throughout a student’s entire sophomore year. Many SSIR's are sustainability focused, including these recent SSIR's: "Healthcare and Medical Humanities" and "Toxic Communities".

The University also has other themed communities in which students live and take classes together, as well as have opportunities to travel, become engaged in the community, and do research together. Earth Lodge is a Living Learning Community focused on sustainability and outdoor education that gives participating students the chance to learn about sustainability and wellness, experience with outdoor adventure, and opportunities to get involved with environmental conservation in the city of Richmond.

First-year students can also participate in sustainability-themed "Roadmap" experiences designed to help them make the most of their time at college including "What's Hot in the City?".


Does the institution have a program through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:
Yes

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

The University of Richmond Sustainability Advocates (URSA) program provides students with information about sustainability and specifically, how they can live more sustainably. The Green Room Program also provides students with a checklist of specific sustainable habits that include waste reduction, conserving energy, saving water, etc.

The Office for Sustainability also has a virtually accessible sustainable living guide called the "Spiders Guide to Sustainable Living". The guide includes information about how to be sustainable on and off campus, along with resources for getting involved in sustainability. https://sustainability.richmond.edu/involved/students/spiders-guide-to-sustainable-living.html

Well 100, Introduction to College Life at UR, includes a module on sustainability for all first-year and transfer students.


Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

The Office for Sustainability hires 6-8 student interns each semester. This internship empowers students to develop their understanding of sustainability and affect change on campus in different concentrations. Students interact with faculty, staff and other students in a variety of capacities and relating to many different aspects of sustainability. Internship position focus areas change from semester to semester and include programming, communications, greenhouse gas accounting, food recovery, the community garden, waste reduction, and more. The program also provides educational opportunities to the interns about how sustainability works on personal and global scales alike.

There are also internship positions offered through the department of Geography and the Environment for Environmental Justice Research & Policy interns and Renewable Energy Education Project interns. Those internships give students the opportunity to support the work of the work of the Virginia Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, and document and communicate progress towards on-campus renewable energy options at UR and other institutions of higher education, respectively.

The UR Rethink Waste office employs 10-15 students called Rethink Waste Representatives every semester. Rethink Waste Representatives provide waste education and run a free store concept, Spider Exchange. They also provide support with waste management assessment.


Does the institution have a graduation pledge through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:
No

A brief description of the graduation pledge(s):

N/A


A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that do not fall into one of the above categories:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.