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

STARS v2.2

University of Tennessee at Knoxville
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Daniel Covington
Data Analyst and Office Administrator
Facilities Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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

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

There are many sustainability-focused student organizations on campus that in cooperation with the Office of Sustainability to affect change on campus. The list below is not exhaustive but only identifies groups that the Office of Sustainability has worked most closely with.

Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville (SPEAK) is a group promoting general environment education and service. They operate a community garden located at the UTK Culinary Institute. They also host biweekly meetings to discuss environmental topics, often including experts in various fields as guest speakers.

The Compost Coalition is a group of students that are dedicated to increasing education about compost as well as increasing access to compost bins where students, faculty, and staff can dispose of organic material. Since 2021, they’ve been operating a composting pilot in several residence halls across campus as an experiment to assess the need for and convenience of residential composting.

Plastic Free UT is a student organization dedicated to banning single use plastics on campus. They aim to accomplish this by advocating for legislation in the SGA as well as supporting initiatives that reduce single use plastics, such as the Eco2Go program or the Mug Project.

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?:

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

The VOLunteer Supported Agriculture (VSA) program is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and experiential Organic Farm Internship program for UTK undergraduate students. The VSA works to connect community members with their farmers and inspire the next generation of agricultural ambassadors by offering shares of each harvest for purchase. Interested parties can become members by paying an upfront fee that will help buy seeds and supplies, and provide stipends for our student interns who are participating in the unique, experiential, organic production internship component of the program. In return, members receive a weekly 1/2 bushel box of fresh, locally grown, organic produce for 20 weeks! Box contents will vary from week to week and feature a variety of seasonal produce.

The UTK Grow Lab promotes experiential and service learning, demonstrates ecological food production methods, and encourages community.The UTK Grow Lab will demonstrate ecological food production methods, address local food insecurity, contribute to a sense of place, and encourage interdisciplinary partnerships.

At the Grow Lab, half of the plots are designated for specific academic courses, research, and university groups. The remaining plots are maintained by staff and volunteers with produce being donated to groups targeting food-insecurity.


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

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

UT Outdoor Pursuits houses the Bike Shop, an on-campus workshop where students, faculty and staff can fix their bikes. Students willing to work on their own bikes can do so for free using the tools at the shop. The Bike Shop also hosts workshops where students can learn how to fix and maintain their bikes. Students may also drop off their bikes to be fixed by student mechanics for a fee of $10/hour, plus the cost of parts. The shop also sells individual parts.

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?:

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

The Green Fee is a student facilities fee that aims to raise funding for student-led, sustainability-focused initiatives and research. The Green Fee was started in 2005 by student vote during SGA elections and consists of a $10 fee per semester for in-state/out-of-state students. The Green Revolving Fund within the Green Fee provides monetary investments for sustainability initiatives on campus that have a short return on investment. These funds are administered by the Student Environmental Initiatives Committee (SEIC). Student, faculty, and staff members meet monthly to deliberate over each proposal submitted. Proposals that are approved by both the SEIC and the Facilities Services Oversight Committee are funded immediately after approval.

Previous projects funded by the Green Revolving Fund have included green power purchases, lighting system upgrades, research on passive solar heating, fees for AmeriCorps member contracts, and a membership to AASHE. The Green Fee has most recently been used to fund outreach programs for sustainability-focused student organizations.


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?:

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

In 2022 the Office of Sustainability offered a panel of speakers who work in the field of sustainability to undeclared undergraduate majors.

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?:

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

"Unsustainable: a planet in crisis" is an art exhibit hosted by the Ewing Gallery in the School of Art in January and February 2020. It was a group exhibition featuring artwork ranging in material, discipline, and execution that addresses themes of planetary crisis—climate change, the rise of new diseases, world conflict and national instability, plastics in the ocean, gun violence, pollution of the waterways, air pollution from use of fossil fuels, the opioid crisis, and species extinction.


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

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

The University of Tennessee Outdoor Pursuits (UTOP) seeks to provide the campus community with outdoor recreation opportunities. UTOP programs emphasize environmental stewardship, including Leave No Trace principles. While UTOP is not student governed, students are given the opportunity to lead some programs and trips.


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

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

The 2020 spring semester was a theme semester in the College of Arts and Sciences named "Apocalypse 2020". One of the central themes of the semester was climate change.

Some of the events and lectures hosted in conjunction with this themed semester are as follows:
Unsustainable – A Planet in Crisis
Ewing Gallery

Urban Narrative and Climate Change
Ursula Heise, Co-founder of the Lab for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Everyday Apocalypse: The Poetry of Climate Change in the Late Middle Ages
Shannon Gayk, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Medieval Studies Institute at Indiana University Bloomington

Climate Change: The Inside Scoop
LaToya Myles and John Kochendorfer, atmospheric scientists with NOAA


Some of the courses offered in conjunction with this themed semester are as follows:
GEOL 490 (Section 3): Apocalypse & Mass Extinctions: Past, Present & Future
GEOL 456: Global Climate Change
GEOG 204: Understanding Climate Change
GEOG/GEOL 206S: Sustainability: Reducing our impact on planet Earth


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

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

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

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

The Office of Sustainability has opportunities for both standard and Federal Work Study student positions as well as unpaid internships for experience or class credit. Student workers assist in outreach and education, program maintenance and development, recycling and compost operations, and data collection and analysis. All of these positions contribute to and are necessary for contributions to campus sustainability goals. Unpaid interns are generally involved in creating new initiatives to target specific environmental issues or sustainability-focused research.

Does the institution have a graduation pledge through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:

A brief description of the graduation pledge(s):

A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that do not fall into one of the above categories:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.