Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 60.76
Liaison Brad Spanbauer
Submission Date March 4, 2022

STARS v2.2

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Brad Spanbauer
Campus Sustainability Officer
Campus Sustainability Office
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:

Students in English/Environmental Studies 243 (Intro. to Nature Writing) course (taught multiple times per year) use the campus in a place observation project that begins with work at the Outdoor Classroom and along the Fox River. Assignment description: Personal Essay & Journal: This assignment asks you to tell a true story in the first-person about your own relationship to a specific place in Oshkosh which you will make regular observations of over three weeks. To write this essay, you will keep a journal of your observations, which will also be turned-in with your essay and evaluated. This four to five-page (double-spaced) essay should tell a personal story with vivid sensory details and anecdotes of things that you have observed or have happened to you in your chosen place. Your essay should also have a central question and a clear main idea. This question and main idea may have to do with a particular aspect of the physical world, cultural identities in relation to your chosen place, and/or how the place is used and fits into the larger landscape. In addition, your personal essay should make connections with at least one assigned reading from the course to deepen your main idea. To make this connection, identify and quote or paraphrase specific passages from a course text that either resonates with your own experiences or contrasts with them somehow. This essay and journal will account for 15% of your final course grade.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:

Students in BIO 104 on the Fox Cities campus do a 'growing food' service learning activity on the campus and then also volunteer at Riverview Gardens as part of this module.

All three of the signature questions of the general education program requires students to participate in community service, which includes public engagement. Students are involved in an on-going project called "building stronger communities," which targets start-up organizations in the community.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:

Engineering Tech 113: emissions testing lab using campus vehicles and other combustion engines (from Grounds dept). Students perform testing of campus vehicles to learn about CO emissions, and other emissions at the Environmental Research and Innovation Center. Collaboration between Grounds and Engineering Tech dept.

The campus uses the campus biodigester as a tool for understanding emissions of carbon from both long- and short-term carbon cycling and the importance of renewable energy generation in combating climate change. Both introductory chemistry and biology classes uses the facility in lab classes. Moreover, Quest classes use the facility at some point as a resource for addressing the issues.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:

Classes, as well as community groups routinely tour campus buildings in order to experience green buildings first hand. Highlighted buildings include: Sage Hall (LEED Gold), Horizon Village (LEED Gold), and the Student Success Center (LEED Silver). Fact sheets are made available that explain the benefits of green buildings.
Outcome: Student/stakeholder learning for better informed input during the design phase of new buildings.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Energy:

The University biodigesters currently produces about 10% of campus electricity demand. Student research at the digester has led to improvements in the mix of feedstock. In addition, students from a variety of disciplines, Chemistry, Biology, and Engineering Technology as a few examples, receive tours of the biodigesters each semester and learn about the conversion of food and organic wastes to energy.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Food & Dining:

Spring 2021: Selling Biogas Food Waste Diversion Services
Course: Marketing 379 Professional Selling
Key Outcomes: Students investigated the key benefits and barriers to selling food waste diversion services to four different industries: restaurants, commercial food service and production, grocery retail, and institutional food service. Students assembled prospect lists and interview prospective customers from each segment to help identify value points as well as barriers to selling. Corporate sustainability goals together with the PR benefits of becoming more sustainable were seen as the core benefits. Many businesses also like the idea of partnering with UWO. Acceptable substitutes (donating, diversion to local farms) were one key barrier, followed by logistics (how to execute) and cost questions. In addition, there was not consensus on who (title) in the organization would purchase (food service manager, sustainability director, facilities manager, corporate vs. local manager).

Fall 2020: Restaurant Interest Biogas Food Waste Diversion Services
Course: Marketing 374 Marketing Research
Key Outcomes: Students investigated local restaurant industry openness and barriers to purchasing food waste diversion services. Students conducted secondary as well as qualitative and quantitative primary research to understand the need and barriers to selling diversion services to local restaurants. Specifically they found that the PR benefits of being more sustainable were valued but that perceived low waste production was an important barrier. Restaurants also expressed concern about costs of removal. There was a perception that “if we are giving you something of value (waste to make energy) should we be paid for that waste rather than pay to have UWO remove food waste?” This belief likely stems from the idea that many restaurants get paid to recycle their waste oil.

Fall 2020: UWO Dining Green-2-Go Program
Course: Marketing 374 Marketing Research
Key Outcomes: Students investigated perceptions and use of UWO’s Green-2-Go program designed to reduce single use plastic and disposable take-out containers during the pandemic closure of in-person dining. Students conducted secondary as well as qualitative and quantitative primary research to investigate student use, understanding of, and attitudes toward the Green-2-Go (Ozzi reusable container) program. Specifically, students report that convenience is critical to maintain compliance in using the Green-2-Go program. In addition, perceived contamination as well as concerns about food volume capacity were the main concerns raised. Students appreciated the sustainable options offered but expressed uncertainty about continued use when in-person dining returns. More communication about the program, its benefits, but also operational execution (how-to information) are needed.

Spring 2020: UWO Dining Promotion of Nutrition Services
Course: Marketing 376 Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications
Key Outcomes: Students developed a social media marketing plan for the Nutrition Services provided by University Dining Contractor Aladdin. As part of this plan students, working in small groups, developed a positioning statement, audience focus and personas, sample content calendar and a small library of social media content samples for University Dining Nutrition Services who was working to increase student utilization of their services.

Spring 2019: UWO SIRT Social Media Marketing Strategy
Course: Marketing 376 Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications
Key Outcomes: Students developed a social media marketing plan for the Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations. As part of this plan students, working in small groups, developed a positioning statement, audience focus and personas, sample content calendar and a small library of social media content samples for SIRT who was developing a new social media presence for the organization.

Numerous classes from Biology, Chemistry, Engineering Tech, and Quest Sustainability courses tour the campus biodigester facilities to learn about how food waste is captured from on campus and in the surrounding region and used to create renewable heat and electricity. Students from the various disciplines may focus on specific areas such as the microbial community that breaks down the organic material in the chambers, to the marketing and coordination process for building partnerships with businesses, etc. to bring their food waste to the digestion facility and why that landfill diversion is important.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Grounds:

Students, faculty and staff established and maintain native prairie plantings on campus. As a result of this initiative, campus grounds now maintains an increasingly larger percentage of campus under native prairie plantings and permaculture. UWO is also a regular recipient of Tree Campus USA from the National Arbor Day Foundation for the last 11 years. The designation requires student involvement for certification, which generally occurs during Earth Week, Earth Charter week and periodically through classes.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Purchasing?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:
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IIs the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:

Numerous classes from Biology, Chemistry, Engineering Tech, and Quest Sustainability courses tour the campus biodigester facilities to learn about how food waste is captured from on campus and in the surrounding region and used to create renewable heat and electricity. Students from the various disciplines may focus on specific areas such as the microbial community that breaks down the organic material in the chambers, to the marketing and coordination process for building partnerships with businesses, etc. to bring their food waste to the digestion facility and why that landfill diversion is important.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:

along campus is organized annually by student organizations and residential advisers. Also, Student organizations partner with the local Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance for a riverfront clean-up along campus. The river is used for various biology, chemistry, engineering tech, environmental studies, and geology classes for water and soil testing. Landscaping techniques for decreasing pollution from runoff along riverside buildings are utilized by faculty and highlighted on campus tours about the benefits of storm water management.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:

Environmental Studies 490: Senior Seminar used campus as a laboratory in Spring 2020, with students compiling recommendations for campus climate action planning.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

Healthy Titans (http://www.uwosh.edu/hr/healthy-titans) encourages wellness through a range of programs that includes students as activity and class instructors. Healthy Titans recently earned a Gold award: http://www.uwosh.edu/today/31833/uw-oshkosh-earns-well-workplace-gold/.
Nursing interns also work at the Community Clinic in Oshkosh which brings healthcare and prevention programs to underserved members of the community.


Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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