Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 46.90
Liaison Hannes Gerhardt
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of West Georgia
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Hannes Gerhardt
Sustainability Director
Department of Geosciences
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

The course Weather and Climate (GEOG 1013) incorporates the following sustainability themed outdoor campus activities:

1. Hot Spots on Campus
After studying urban heat islands, albedo, and microclimates, in groups they predict where the hot and cool spots on campus are located. They spend time in class going out with sensors and a camera to see the actual temperature on different surfaces at the selected locations. The winning groups are determined based off of the data they submit.

2. Ozone Examination
After studying air quality and ozone, students examine data from throughout the state. Then they sample ozone using a portable sensor at several locations on campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

In Geographies of Sustainability (GEOG 3405) the class is given the data on the energy consumption on campus and the subsequent greenhouse gases that this creates. Students are asked to interpret and make sense of this data. i.e. where is most of the energy consumption coming from, is it getting more or less over time, why? They are then asked to come up with ideas on how to bring down energy related emissions, based on research they have done.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

In a STEAM English Composition (ENGL 1102) course, the class regularly visits the campus garden and participates in the work that goes on there. they are asked to write reflection essays that are centered on sustainability themes related to the garden. The aim is to develop sustainability awareness around food -where it comes from, what is involved in its production, and how the environment is impacted.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

A number of forested and watershed areas on campus are used in biology courses. In Ecology (Biol 3135), Plant Taxonomy (Biol 3221), and Vascular Plants (Biol 3223) outdoor campus work involves characterizing the natural environments and the plant communities that occur in them. One of the themes that comes up in all three courses is the effect of human activities on natural environments and on the natural plant communities.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:

In a STEAM English Composition course (ENGL 1102), the class went to observe campus cafe visitors to quantify how many persons made use of the cafe policy to fill and then re-fill without cost any non-disposable cups brought by the students. One of the aims was to see how students responded to the sustainability purchasing policy implemented by the cafe and to understand why it wasn't always effective. The class would then write and essay on their findings and thoughts.

A similar exercise in the same class is done with regard to the water filling stations. Students observe how many fellow students make use of the filling stations as opposed to buying water in the vending machine around the corner. The aim is to see how the policy of carrying water in vending machines competes with investment in water filling stations. Again, students are asked to make sense of their finding in the form of an essay.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

In Geographies of Sustainability (GEOG 3405) the class is given data from a transportation survey conducted by the University. The data includes information on how students get to campus and move around on campus. They are then asked to interpret and make sense of this data in terms of why the data is as it is and what can be extrapolated from that. They are then asked to come up with ideas on how transportation usage could be made more sustainable based on research they have done.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

The University organized a big "dumpster dive" event in which several garbage containers were poured out and then sifted through by students from various courses. The idea was to see how many recyclables are thrown out, and how much they are worth on a daily and yearly basis. Several sections of Principles of Biology (BIOL 1107) and Social Corporate Responsibility (MGNT 3625) took part in this exercise.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

The floodplain behind the basketball stadium is an outdoor laboratory for Hydrogeology (GEOL 4084). Over the years Hydrogeology has installed more than twenty wells which have subsequently been used for teaching and research. We have also taken core samples using the Dept's vibracore setup. Hydrogeology techniques for well installation, flow testing, core sampling and water sampling are demonstrated through activities there. Numerous student presentations have been based on data from the field site covering topics such as groundwater chemistry. Most of these activities has a sustainability component as the testing of water and groundwater is done to detect human sources contaminants.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:

In Urban Geography (GEOG 3643) students worked together to think about how to integrate the UWG campus into the Greenbelt and then did a "walk audit" of the most promising route. "Complete streets" (walkability/biking) and smart growth were very much part of the course.

In Geography of Soils (GEOG 4103) students walk along the entire drainage of campus creek, from its head at the watershed divide near Maple Street all the way to its confluence with the Little Tallapoosa River. They look at the various evidences of the effects of historic and modern land use on the fluvial system, which in turn affects water quality. For example, the upper reaches of the system are incised due to the impermeable surfaces (parking lots, roads, buildings) that put water with a low sediment load directly into the channel. The effects on flood magnitude and duration are discussed.
Along the way, students also identify storm drain outlets to the stream and discuss different point and non-point sources of pollution on campus and how they can impact water. At times they use a net to catch and identify aquatic macroinvertebrates and assess stream water quality given various species' sensitivities to environmental pollutants.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:

In relation to affordability, one psychology professor has engaged students in conducting a study that seeks to better understand student needs regarding food security and nutrition. This study came about because of a broader campus survey done last year that showed that a substantial number of our students experience food insecurity – going to class hungry and not having enough to eat (please see attached survey results). Students are engaged in conducting focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of student concerns regarding food and nutrition and their thoughts on how UWG can meet student need.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:

The graduate level course Conservation Biology 5985 uses the campus as a living laboratory to assess the amount and health of the animal wildlife on campus by setting up various wildlife cameras around campus and tracking and analyzing the data. Based on the results suggestions are offered for how to protect the University's animal wildlife.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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