Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.58
Liaison Jim Walker
Submission Date March 2, 2020

STARS v2.2

University of Texas at Austin
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 4.00 Jim Walker
Director of Sustainability, Financial, and Administrative Services
University Operations
"---" 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:

Bridging Disciplines Programs
The Bridging Disciplines Programs (BDPs) at The University of Texas at Austin allow undergraduates to develop a secondary area of specialization that complements their major. To earn a BDP certificate, students must complete 19 credit hours combining interdisciplinary coursework with hands-on research, internship, or creative experiences.

Texas Undergraduate Studies offers interdisciplinary concentrations in 16 different interdisciplinary concentrations.

One of the goals of the BDP is to help students make their education fit their individual interests and goals. BDP advisors help students find courses, research opportunities, and internship experiences that complement their majors, while also supporting them in developing knowledge and experience they would not otherwise find within their degree plans.

The Environment & Sustainability BDP gives students the opportunity to explore a variety of disciplinary approaches to environmental processes and contemporary environmental issues. By bringing together courses in natural sciences, social sciences, design disciplines, and the humanities, this program affords a complex understanding of how the diverse parts of Earth’s environment interact.

For example, a Geology major might choose to deepen an appreciation of human-environment interactions with a selection of government, history, and geography courses in liberal arts, while a journalism major might use natural science courses to develop an understanding of the scientific method. Designed to complement a range of majors, the Environment & Sustainability BDP prepares students to address environmental issues in careers as researchers, writers, policy makers, sustainable business leaders, and educators.

An interdisciplinary panel of faculty with an interest in the environment helps students design individualized programs of study that complement their majors and interests, and they are instrumental in helping students find internships and opportunities to participate in faculty research.


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:

UT Austin's President Fenves announced the Bridging Barriers research initiative in 2016, planned to be a series of university-wide, themed, interdisciplinary research challenges, engaging faculty and staff researchers across colleges, schools and units.

The first research theme under this initiative is Planet Texas 2050. Launched in the fall of 2017, Planet Texas 2050 is a university-wide research endeavor to tackle realities of population growth and weather intensity, and their impact on water, energy, dependable infrastructure, and ecosystems' ability to support them. This work brings together more than 120 faculty and staff researchers, with the ability for others to join the research initiative in the future if desired. Together, they will explore how the state of Texas will be able to ensure its own resilience in the year 2050, in both the built and natural environments, as it faces the synergistic stresses of climate extremes and rapid urbanization.


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:

Current faculty tenure and promotion guidelines do not specifically define interdisciplinary research, and do not state a positive, or negative, position on such research.

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

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

Texas ScholarWorks provides the UT Austin community with open, online access to the products of the University's research and scholarship, to preserve these works for future generations, to promote new models of scholarly communication, and to help deepen community understanding of the value of higher education. TSW offers submission services, community/collection creation services, access services, and preservation services to support repository users.

UT Communities in the repository that support sustainability research include:
Environmental Science Institute
Population Research Center
The Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:
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.