Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 72.78
Liaison Dennis Cochrane
Submission Date Feb. 18, 2021

STARS v2.2

Virginia Tech
IN-47: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Nathan King
Sustainability Manager
Facilities
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Digital Earth Week 2020

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:

Virginia Tech's Earth Week is a student-led celebration that occurs annually on the week of Earth Day in April. The goal is to educate and engage the entire campus community and surrounding communities on the importance of sustainability, climate change mitigation, environmental stewardship, climate justice, health/wellbeing, and many other topics. The student organization, Environmental Coalition, designates an Earth Week Coordinator who partners with student leadership from 20+ other student organizations to develop events and educational materials for the week. This often includes community groups and other activist groups from around the New River Valley that are interested in partnering with students. The Office of Sustainability staff help support the planning and communication process in the months leading up to Earth Week.

The spring semester 2020 began with planning of Earth Week as normal until the coronavirus pandemic spread to the United States forcing all in-person campus events to be cancelled and students were sent home after spring break. Traditionally, Earth Week planning includes hosting forums where representatives from different interested student groups and community members can come together to share ideas for how they all want the week to look and what events we want to host. Instead of cancelling Earth Week entirely, the group decided to plan and promote a digital Earth Week celebration, which has never been done before at Virginia Tech. Student leadership only had 1 month to plan and execute virtual events and had to scrap over 75% of their original in-person events. However, the Office of Sustainability staff were able to link student leadership through a series of Zoom meetings and utilized Google Drive to share resources for event planning. This led to Virginia Tech hosting over 25 virtual events during Earth Week that ranged from Zoom discussions to Instagram Live events to Facebook educational posts. Each day of the week had a general "theme" which included: Mental Health, Water Use, Emissions/Pollution, Climate Activism, Habitats/Biodiversity, Food/Waste, and Community. Some events under the themed days included: sustainable cooking demonstrations, scavenger hunt, Instagram bingo, community cleanup pictures, rural climate activism panel discussion, water use facts, promotion of local farms/businesses, and many more! Students and staff were also able to link to various virtual events being held across the state and nation including EarthX 2020. Virginia Tech pooled links to virtual events with other colleges and universities around the Commonwealth through their VASHE (Virginia Association for Sustainability in Higher Education) network. Hence, people throughout the state had the opportunity to participate and not just those in the local area as with a normal Earth Week.

In short, Virginia Tech was able to successfully hold it's first ever Digital Earth Week celebration and leveraged social media/technology to engage the community in a way that had not been done previously. It was also remarkable that student leadership, faculty, and staff were able to switch gears to an online format with less than a month to prepare and still hosted many engaging sustainability events.


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

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 innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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