Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.33
Liaison Brad Spanbauer
Submission Date Jan. 29, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
IN-27: Innovation D

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Brian Kermath
Sustainability Director
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
UW Oshkosh Free School

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

The UW Oshkosh Free School is an event hosted by a student organization that provides a space for campus, Oshkosh, and outside communities to exchange knowledge and other valuable skills not discussed in regular educational settings. This event is a full day of free workshops, lectures, demonstrations, and discussions that address topics of health, social justice, sustainable living, and community building. The Free School allows individuals to discover and meet new people, network through creating personal connections, learn from others, discuss sustainability, and learn how to work together- all necessary skills pertinent to every-day life.

A select group of students within the organization noticed a severe disconnect between the university and the surrounding Oshkosh community, but also between students themselves. The Free School is designed to build bridges between different communities as well as cater to underlying separations of age, religion, race, and culture. To accomplish this, classes are taught by any interested individual-including students, business owners, community members, university staff and faculty. These individuals are only required to be passionate in their class offerings and interested in spreading their knowledge; their credentials are displayed alongside their classes so participants understand their level of expertise in their topic. Classes are designated for all ages by creating three separate categories of children, young adult, and adult classes. The event is hosted in Sage Hall, a LEED certified building, to showcase campus sustainability efforts but also to provide an opportunity for local residents to have a positive experience within the university. Each of these accommodations met by the UW Oshkosh Free School contributes to building further connections between campus and the surrounding Oshkosh community.

The first UWO Free School was hosted on April 23, 2016 and was extremely successful. Sustainable objectives were heavily integrated within the planning process by utilizing campus resources, local businesses, and environmentally-conscious supplies. With a budget of $6,100 generously provided by a the campus Green Fund Committee, this event provided supplies for 41 workshops, two meals for everyone involved including all volunteers and participants, childcare services, as well as reusable logistical supplies to be utilized in years to come. As a first time event, there were roughly 150 participants that were registered, many attending the full day of events from 8am-6pm. Childcare and children’s workshops were well received and supported by participants. Throughout the day 30 children utilized these resources. To assess workshops offered, evaluations are distributed in each class to gain valuable intel for coming years.

The upcoming UWO Free School is planned for April 1, 2017. This event is estimating a participant basis of 200 individuals and is set to provide 45-50 workshops throughout the day. Because this event is unique to the Oshkosh area, it has received continuous support and interest throughout the midwest and through other UW-system students and community members. To continue this beneficial experience for the community, coordinators continue to develop further partnerships within the community as well as with outside organizations such as World Relief. This new partnership within the World Relief-Oshkosh, has provided an opportunity for refugees to receive transportation and translator services to attend this event. Coordinators have also been in communication with other UW-system students to offer their knowledge to this experience as well as to offer a welcoming invitation to participate.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Campus Engagement
Public Engagement
Diversity & Affordability

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives 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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.