Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.54
Liaison Jim Walker
Submission Date March 2, 2020

STARS v2.2

University of Texas at Austin
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Brianna Duran
CEC Coordinator; Sustainability Student Programs
Office of Sustainability
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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:

The Campus Environmental Center empowers the University of Texas at Austin community to pursue a genuine culture of environmental sustainability through constructive and dynamic means.

Engineers for a Sustainable World mobilizes engineers and non-engineers through education, training, and action. We build collaborative partnerships to meet the needs of current and future generations.

Food Recovery Network recovers food that would be thrown away on campus or in Austin area restaurants and takes it to places where underprivileged individuals need help.

Net Impact (Graduate) provides a form for members of the Graduate School of Business to discuss issues of social sustainability and social responsibility.


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 University of Texas at Austin has a number of gardens and farms on campus. University Housing and Dining maintains two gardens on campus which supply food to the campus dining halls and a regular on-campus farm stand. These gardens are maintained by students employed through the Housing and Dining's Farm Stand program as well as student volunteers. The UT Microfarm, a project of the Campus Environmental Center, is UT’s first student-run farm. The farm, located on-campus, supplies food to an on-campus food pantry. It offers valuable student experience in the form of paid student leaders, volunteer team members, and weekly volunteer opportunities. The Microfarm also has a community garden which allows students, staff, and faculty an opportunity to rent plots and learn to grow their own food. The Microfarm is run as a sustainable, organic food system.


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:

UT Farm Stand's mission is to promote local organic produce for students, faculty, and staff of UT Austin. They also focus on education of sustainability, health, accessibility, and affordability. UT Farm Stand is student-led and managed on-campus farm stand.

BEEVO Beekeeping Society, a registered student organization, maintains on-campus hives and sells the honey. They seek to reinvest beekeeping to individuals because if more people keep bees, there's more pollination, and more environmental sustainability. They strive to teach students the art of beekeeping. They periodically sell their honey on campus.


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:

The Texas Sustainability Investment Group educates undergraduate students on sustainable investing practices and provides hands on experience through fund management and company evaluation based on environmental, social, and governance – or ESG – investing factors in a variety of industries.


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:

The annual Sustainability Symposium, hosted by the Office of Sustainability, is an all-day event highlighting the collaborative sustainability research and work that UT students, staff and faculty perform every day on campus.

The UT Energy Symposium, hosted by the Energy Institute, is a weekly guest lecture series aiming to provide a multi-disciplinary platform for UT faculty and students to interact on the most pressing energy issues facing our world.

The Social Innovation Initiative's Impact Chat series host speakers and panel discussion on topics related to social entrepreneurship, corporate social innovation, impact/ESG investing, and sustainability.


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:

Waller Creek Monster Habitat: The Department of Theater and Dance designed the Waller Creek Monster Habitat, an interactive, theatrical experience that told the story of the Waller Creek revitalization and transformation. The Waller Creek Monster Habitat was designed and built by UT students with mentorship from UT faculty from multiple departments, and the installation was a gateway into the Waller Creek Conservancy Creek Show in November 2019 and will serve as an anchor attraction and theatrical event for UT’s 2020 Earth Day Celebration. https://www.dailytexanonline.com/2019/11/11/students-create-%E2%80%9Ccreek-monster-habitat%E2%80%9D-for-waller-creek-show

Mr. Burns: A de-extinction love story: Mr. Burns, a post-electric play is a fully student-produced theatrical zero waste production at the University of Texas at Austin. The post-apocalyptic dark comedy seeks to address a significant blindspot in contemporary American theatre: the intersection of environmental and social justice. The production also included a symposium about sustainable and equitable theater. The project at large, entitled Better Mr. Burns, is composed of two parts. The first is a production of Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, addressing the impact of environmental waste and abusive rehearsal practices in theatre by utilizing sustainable and inclusive practices. The second, entitled Better Mr. Burns: Past, Present and Future of Sustainable Theatre, is a series of community engagement activities including visits from guest artists, practical workshops, a symposium and a waste audit. https://sustainability.utexas.edu/news/mr-burns-making-inclusive-and-sustainable-theatre

Fashion Anonymous art exhibit: A graduate student in the College of Education, created five exhibits on campus that informed students about the social and environmental impact of apparel production. By taking viewers from Texas cotton farms to overseas where the cotton is transformed into apparel and then shipped back to Texas for purchase and, later, discarding, the exhibits sought to increase student knowledge of the environmental and social justice issues in the apparel supply chain and determine if there is a resulting behavior change after viewing the exhibits. https://www.dailytexanonline.com/2019/09/27/student-organization-tackles-fast-fashion-through-art-exhibits

Mammoth: The UT Graduate Student Alliance produced Mammoth, a play by Adam Burnett, that addresses climate change and species extinction in an age when humans can envision their own extinction. The play uses metaphors (a huge melting glacier), and an actual de-extinction project (tied to real-life conservation projects) to think about destruction, loss (and love!) The Graduate Student Alliance produced Mammoth as a zero waste production. https://www.dailytexanonline.com/2018/02/22/mammoth-play-explores-ideas-of-extinction-lost-love-through-science

Exploring the Arctic Ocean: Exploring the Arctic Ocean has been developed alongside the research project “Understanding Arctic System Change Through Synthesis of Hydrographic and Sea Ice Observations from the Early 21st Century,” funded by the National Science Foundation and led by oceanographers An T. Nguyen and Patrick Heimbach at The University of Texas at Austin. The research project combines observational data and numerical models to gain a better understanding of the interrelation of key properties of the Arctic as a physical system, including ocean circulation and temperature, freshwater, ice cover, and the changes of these properties in time. As a centerpiece and starting point for the exhibition, Nguyen and Heimbach produced a rendered video animation in collaboration with visualization specialist Greg Foss from the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin. The animation shows a simulation of a phenomenon researchers call “Arctic Atlantification,” the influx of warm water from the subtropical Atlantic into the Arctic Ocean and its increased spreading within the Arctic.
https://sites.utexas.edu/utvac/exploring-the-arctic-ocean/


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:

Through the Adventure Trip Program, UT Austin offers a variety of outdoor recreation programs. Leave No Trace is practiced on these trips.


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:

All first-year students at UT must participate in a Freshman Interest Group (FIG). FIGS take 2-4 classes together during their first fall semester and attend a weekly seminar led by a peer mentor and a staff facilitator. Students can opt into a Sustainability & Society interdisciplinary FIG as well as several other FIGs that either focus or touch on sustainability.


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:

University Housing and Dining offers a Sustainability Living Learning Community. The Sustainability LLC broadly explores the connection between environmentalism, social justice, and economic longevity, commonly considered the three major components of sustainability – planet, people, and profit. This LLC encourages people curious OR skeptical about any aspect of sustainability to join the community. The year-long program includes opportunities to study the impact of personal and social activities on the environment and vulnerable populations, understand the social and natural ecosystems of Austin and the university, and go “hyperlocal” with sustainability by designing, within the community, ways to make this LLC sustainable and enriching for all participants.


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

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

There are a number of sustainability-focused student employment opportunities on campus.

University Housing & Dining (UHD) employs students in their Farm Stand Garden and Market programs. Students spend their time tending the UHD campus gardens, conducting sustainability outreach, and managing an on-campus mini farmer's market.

The Office of Sustainability employs student interns to lead the Green Offices and Green Labs programs and to assist with communications and the Green Fund. The Campus Environmental Center student organization employs student leaders for their programs (Green Greeks, Green Events, Trash to Treasure, Microfarm, Environmental Justice Collective, and Half-Pint Prairie) as well as for more general education/outreach leadership roles.


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

The Green Fund is a competitive grant program funded by UT Austin tuition fees. Students, faculty, and staff are able to apply to Green Fund to fund a sustainability project on campus or sustainability-related research. Many of these projects are led by students and some include student employment. Such projects include: UT Microfarm, BEEVO Beekeeping Society, Aquaponics, and more. Green Fund decisions are made by a student majority committee - participation in this committee is another way students can get involved in sustainability on campus.


Additional documentation to support the submission:
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