Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.22
Liaison Jay Price
Submission Date March 3, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of Tennessee at Knoxville
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Jessica GerberDolan
Data Analyst
Facilities Services
"---" 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 sustainability research?:

A brief description of the student sustainability research program:

Dr. Michael McKinney teaches an advanced small-scale sustainable energy course in which teams of students must research and draft a proposal for new sustainable infrastructure for the campus in the first semester and pitch the project to campus stakeholders in the second semester. The intended outcome of this course is to actually secure funding for the top-ranked project in the class.

The Office of Sustainability Internship Program provides support for student research projects related to sustainability on campus. Students are eligible to receive course credit for qualifying research projects and a small number of positions are paid. Examples of previous research projects:
Researching the amount of microplastics emitted from campus laundry facilities
Researching and calculating the greenhouse gas emissions associated with commonly served items in campus dining halls
Researching levels of engagement with the Public Recycling Drop-Off on campus and assessing motivations for using the drop-off in order to develop more effective marketing materials
Researching nutrient levels of compost produced by the UT compost site

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

A brief description of the faculty sustainability research program:

The Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment (ISSE) provides seed funding annually to multi-disciplinary, multi-investigator research and support. This year, ISSE awarded seed grants to support projects related to sustainability in the areas of water, energy, and food justice. The aim of this seed grant is to support project teams as they develop the capability to secure external funding. ISSE expects the funded teams to submit at least one external grant proposal and one article to a peer-reviewed publication with acknowledgement to ISSE.

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 copy of the promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

The promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

While there is no language that formally gives positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions, there are mechanisms for institution-wide recognition of such research.

The Office of Research and Engagement (ORE) administers the “Strategic and Transformative Investments in Research (STIR) fund, an internal fund designed to stimulate and support innovative, multidisciplinary, team research with the strong potential to attract significant external funding. One of the ways in which it achieves this is through the direct funding of Organized Research Units (ORU’s). ORU’s can receive up to 3 years of funding for research while teams seek more permanent, external means of funding. Another investment program called the Transdisciplinary Academy Program (TAP) supports “high-risk/high-return” priority research areas. In FY17, there were 12 funded ORU’s and 5 funded TAP’s, totaling an annual investment of $778,700. All of these awards are made in support of inter/trans/multidisciplinary research efforts.

Outcomes reported from FY16 STIR funding include several new grant awards from federal, state, and private entities; contributions to two large, center proposals to the National Science Foundation; enhanced industry/university and university/university collaborations; and significant advances in the fields of neutron physics, rare-earth nickelates, and sustainable mobility as evidenced by numerous publications and presentations.

The ORE also administers the annual “Chancellor's Success in Multidisciplinary Research Award.” This award recognizes a team of faculty members who are located in more than one academic college, have formed a team, and have succeeded in gaining major external resources and external recognition for their multidisciplinary research. The winning team receives a monetary award and is recognized at the annual Chancellor’s Honors Banquet.

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

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:

UT libraries maintain research guides on a variety of sustainability-focused topics across many academic divisions—divisions such as Agriculture, Business, Architecture, History, Biology, Earth & Planetary Sciences, Geography, Advertising & Public Relations, Social Work. Library collection development policies address both the curricular and research foci of the campus. They often acquire specialized resources that support a single discipline and many of our resources are multidisciplinary or support transdisciplinary research. For example, Sustainability Science Abstracts explores sustainable development, population and demography, and societal issues involving natural resource management.

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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