|Submission Date||March 6, 2020|
Washington University in St. Louis
EN-3: Student Life
Office of Sustainability
Does the institution have one or more active student groups focused on sustainability?:
A brief description of active student groups focused on sustainability:
Undergraduate Student Opportunities
> The Burning Kumquat is an organic, student-run garden where members of Washington University come together to cultivate crops, learn farming practices and sell produce to other WashU community members.
> The Congress of the South 40’s Sustainability Committee promotes sustainability on the South 40 through events and college council programming and manages the Eco Rep program.
> Cultivating Connections is a student group that partners with International Institute’s global farms program to develop urban farms in immigrant neighborhoods in St. Louis. The group engages with these communities on a personal basis through farm support and seasonal potlucks, creating cultural and experience exchange within the broader social dynamics of St. Louis. Awareness campaigns also work to educate the WashU community about immigration policy and the everyday lives of New Americans.
> Campus Kitchen has a mission to fight food insecurity and reduce food waste in the local community. With the help of 30 dedicated shift leaders and undergraduate student volunteers, the student group recovers over 100 pounds of food a week from various outlets including the on-campus dining provider Bon Appetit, and prepare between 180 and 200 meals for three different client agencies who distribute it to the hungry.
> Eco Rep Program: WashU’s Eco Rep program gives undergraduates the opportunity to promote sustainability within their Residential Colleges. In addition, Eco Reps focuses on making College Council programming more sustainable.
> Engineers without Borders – Engineering World Health
Engineers without Borders encourages interested students of all schools to apply their academic knowledge to projects in developing communities that focus on the environment, equity and economics.
> Gateway to the Great Outdoors (GGO) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing urban, low-income, at-risk youth with opportunities to interact with the natural environment through lessons and activities that instill a value of environmentalism, leadership, teamwork, science, and physical activity.
> Green Action members participate in regional and national sustainability movements, maintaining relevancy and awareness of current events, politics and issues through programming that engages the community and promotes environmental advocacy.
> Net Impact: As the premier green task force on campus, Net Impact strives to give students the opportunity and skills to make environmentally and socially responsible change happen on campus. Net Impact grows and strengthens a network of leaders who believe in the power of business to create a positive social, environmental and economic impact.
> Outing Club provides outdoor recreation and experiential education for the Wash U community. They host backpacking, rock-climbing, canoeing, hiking and camping trips, organize outdoor community service events, rent outdoor gear to students and run outdoor skill clinics.
> The Student Sustainability Board researches and promotes sustainability measures for University programs, events and initiatives by offering consulting services and allocating funds.
> Trading Post – SWAP (Sharing with a Purpose): SWAP's mission is to promote re-use within the Washington University community through the free exchange and affordable sale of donated goods. Trading Post has both a storefront operated during the school year and an annual SWAP collection and sale.
> V.E.R.D.E. (Volunteers for Environmental Restoration, Development and Education) fosters greater awareness about environmental issues among school children and participates in environmental restoration events around St. Louis.
> Washington University Co-Op provides off-campus housing for undergraduates with six pillars: community building, environmental sustainability, healthy living, social responsibility, cooperative learning and leadership.
> The Wilderness Project offers backpacking and climbing trips with social and environmental justice components. Leadership opportunities are available every winter.
> The WashU Green Ambassador (WUGA) Program is a student-managed, peer-education program supported by the Office of Sustainability that orients new students to the sustainability initiatives on WashU’s campus. WUGAs play a critical role in training first year student to adopt behaviors that align with WashU’s culture of sustainability, behaviors that they will carry with them during their time at WashU (and beyond).
> WUpcycle promotes sustainable fashion practices and environmental awareness through encouraging and teaching ethical techniques and discussing the challenges of the fashion industry. Every week, they host creative workshops focusing on upcycling and sustainability.
Graduate Student Opportunities
> The Energy & Environmental Law Society (EELS) explores the intersection of law and the environment through educational speaking events, community service projects, collaboration with other campus groups, as well as by promoting sustainability in the use of law school facilities. EELS aims to prepare and inspire students to enter the increasingly complex fields of energy and environmental law.
> Environmental Justice Initiative: Students in the Brown School promote dialogue and action around environmental justice through panel discussions and speakers. Contact the Environmental Justice Initiative.
> ESWI (Environmental Social Work Initiative) seeks to build awareness, knowledge and practice skills at the nexus of environmental and social problems; to engage the Brown School community in environmental social work and thus establish social work as a field of practice; and to establish the Brown School as a leader in this field.
The website URL where information about the student groups is available (optional):
Does the institution have gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:
A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:
The Burning Kumquat is a student-run micro farm on the Danforth Campus. The group provides students with hands-on organic food production experience. It also serves as a hub for food knowledge; hosting classes, work days, and community potlucks. Group members sell produce to Dining Services and the campus community, as well as the North City Farmers’ Market. In summer months, they also invite WashU employees and community members to support operations while students are away.
Several academic programs and courses provide students with urban agriculture experience. Since 2015 and as part of the Sustainability Exchange, an interdisciplinary team of students has been working in partnership with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment to draft and pass an agriculture bill for the City of St. Louis.
University College, WashU's professional and continuing education division, has also been offering a class on "Sustainable Food Systems".
The website URL where information about the gardens, farms or agriculture projects is available (optional):
Does the institution have student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes (e.g. cafés through which students gain sustainable business skills)?:
A brief description of the student-run enterprises:
The university's Student Entrepreneurial Program (StEP) provides a unique opportunity for students to own a business on campus that serves the Washington University community. Student owners can supplement the valuable business and entrepreneurial skills they learn in the classroom while gaining real world experience as they manage and lead their own businesses. As part of this program, a couple of student-owned business have a mission in sustainability:
> Bears Bikes: "the purpose of this business is to give students low-hassle, environmentally friendly transportation at an affordable cost". More: https://www.bearsbikes.com/
> Sharing With A Purpose (SWAP): nonprofit business with the mission "to promote re-use within the Washington University community through the free exchange and affordable sale of donated goods". SWAP provides affordable and convenient room essentials (furniture, appliances, electronics, etc.) to Washington University students through an annual sale during fall semester move-in. Items are collected from students during the prior semester's move-out collection, called Share Our Stuff, and all proceeds from the sale are used to run an on-campus store called the Trading Post. The Trading Post functions similarly to a thrift or consignment store, but follows the principles of “freecycling,” a global sustainability movement aimed at facilitating the free exchange of goods. More: https://swapstl.org/
Another student group (independent from the StEP program), Net Impact, promotes sustainability in business and sustainable initiatives on campus. The WashU Undergrad chapter has been offering pro bono consulting to local businesses as a way to gain real-world experience while supporting the local economy.
The website URL where information about the student-run enterprises is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:
A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:
The Student Sustainability Board (SSB) allocates funding towards graduate and undergraduate students' sustainability projects. The fund supports projects that benefit the student body and promote an ethos of sustainability and stewardship of the environment through education, events, or research. Over 35 projects have been successfully funded on campus through the SSF to date, including the recent "Skip the Straw" campaign and the residential composting program (more: https://sustainability.wustl.edu/get-involved/recycling-composting-2/residential-composting-at-washu/).
More about past projects: https://ssb.wustl.edu/past-projects/
The website URL where information about the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives is available (optional):
Does the institution have conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:
A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability:
Washington University hosts frequent sustainability-themed events. 30+ events are held each semester.
Trending Topics, the annual Student Union speaker series funded by the SU Treasury, allows the Student Environmental Council (executive branch of Student Union) to nominate a number of speakers every year, ensuring at least one major environmental speaker comes on campus every year. Past speakers have included Gina McCarthy (former head of the EPA), Vandana Shiva (activist), and Majora Carter (real estate developer).
For the past few years, WashU has also been hosting Campus Sustainability Month in the fall, and Earth Week in the spring, each featuring many events focused on sustainability.
The website URL where information about the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability is available (optional):
Does the institution have cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:
A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability:
> In the fall of 2019, senior Noah Offenkrantz created an art installation that was displayed for a week outside of the Danforth University Center, a high visibility location, to bring attention to the amount of plastic waste we generate each day at WashU. More: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3e_F8ynzNY/
> In the spring of 2018, seniors Kristen Patino and Julia Widmann spearheaded a project called “Displaced: An Art Installation for Climate Justice”, with the help of Fossil Free WashU and funding from Student Sustainability Board. Displayed in front of Lab Sciences from April 8th to April 15th, 2018, the installation was a visual representation of the estimated 21.5 million people forced out of their home by climate disasters, each year since 2008 according to the UN Refugee Agency. Each of the 215 dwellings represented 100,000 people displaced, for the total of 21.5 million annually. More: https://sustainability.wustl.edu/displaced-an-art-installation-for-climate-justice/
> In 2017 Prof. Jesse Vogler led The One Tree Project an interdisciplinary landscape architecture design studio focused on the historic pin-oak alley at Washington University’s Danforth Campus. The team included architects, horticulturalists, photographers and other professionals. More: https://theonetreeproject.org/
The website URL where information about the cultural arts events, installations or performances is available (optional):
Does the institution have wilderness or outdoors programs (e.g. that organize hiking, backpacking, kayaking, or other outings for students) that follow Leave No Trace principles?:
A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:
> The Outing Club is a student group dedicated to providing outdoor opportunities to all Washington University students while promoting a strong stance of environmental and social responsibility. They aim to help students break out of the often city-centric college experience with trips of all varieties to local and distant outdoor attractions. In recent years, they’ve ventured out for backpacking in Missouri’s Ozarks; climbing in Illinois, Arkansas, and Kentucky; spelunking in the caves that stretch though the state; rafting in Tennessee; cycling; floating and canoe trips; and star-gazing.
> The Wilderness Project is a student group that offers backpacking and climbing trips with social and environmental justice components. The program aims to provide students an outlet through which they can gain a powerful perspective on their lives, their communities, and how they fit into a global perspective outside the context of everyday routines. The project is designed to challenge the participants to be socially and environmentally conscious leaders.
The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors programs is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences (e.g. choosing a sustainability-related book for common reading)?:
A brief description of the sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:
In 2019, Washington University launched its new “Bear Beginnings” program, a 9-day orientation program required for all incoming first year students. Bear Beginnings replaced a 4-day orientation plus a la carte pre-orientation programs with a more robust and equally accessible experience. Four three-day “Immersive Experience Programs” were offered to all students.
As part of this process, the Office of Sustainability partnered with the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion to offer programming to 275 students that explored the intersections of identity, social justice, community engagement, and sustainability within the St. Louis context. Programming included meeting local community leaders, learning about social and environmental justice issues and solutions in the area, interpretive tours of neighborhoods, exploration via public transportation, volunteering at community gardens, and attending a regional cultural festival. Programming also included in-depth training for 20 BEAR leaders – returning student volunteers who were near-peer mentors for participants in the program.
The website URL where information about the sustainability-related themes is available (optional):
Does the institution have programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:
A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:
> Green Ambassadors (WUGAs) play a pivotal role in creating a cultural shift on our campus through tasks such as helping educate first year students about waste sorting as early as Move-In Day. During the academic year, WUGAs work closely with EcoReps and the Office of Sustainability to plan sustainable programming and educate first year students about topics like waste sorting, alternative transportation, sustainable food choices, and more.
> Green Cup is an annual 4-week competition to reduce energy use among Washington University’s South 40 Residential Colleges. Students are incentivized to adopt sustainable lifestyles during the competition as they can earn points for their teams by reducing energy use, taking the sustainability pledge, enrolling in the residential composting program, and more. Eco Reps play a critical role in engaging the general student body in Green Cup. The Eco Rep program was founded in 2011 to empower students to educate their peers and to better weave sustainability into the undergraduate experience. The program provides a leadership opportunity for students interested in sustainability. Each year, 12 Eco Reps increase student awareness and help to institutionalize environmental stewardship within the student body.
> In 2019, we released a new resource to empower people to make their homes more energy efficient. The "Energy Efficiency & Sustainable Living Guide" includes content on thermostats, laundry, outlets, fans, kitchen & bath, products, windows, food, and transportation. The guide is available for download here: https://sustainability.wustl.edu/get-involved/energyefficiency-sustainableliving/
In the spring of 2020, the Office of Sustainability has partnered with Ameren to organize a free LED swap. To date, more than 400 energy inefficient light bulbs (CFLs and incandescents) were collected and 300+ LEDs were distributed at no charge.
The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills programs is available (optional):
Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:
A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:
The Office of Sustainability manages a team of approximately 20 part-time, paid student interns during the school year, and 4-6 full-time, paid student interns over the summer to support the university’s efforts to be a sustainability leader. Over 90 students have held internships since the programs inception in 2011.
Interns work in teams across a number of domains, including alternative transportation, waste diversion/reduction, renewable energy, food and dining, environmental justice, Green Office program facilitation, climate, and communications.
Additional positions are also funded within the Environmental Studies Program, the WashU Climate Change Program, the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (student research), the Tyson Research Center, and the Living Earth Collaborative.
Stipends are also available through the Career Center and the Gephardt Center to support unpaid internships within area nonprofits.
The website URL where information about the student employment opportunities is available:
Does the institution have graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:
A brief description of the graduation pledges:
The website URL where information about the graduation pledges is available (optional):
Does the institution have other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives?:
A brief description of the other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:
> Share Our Stuff (SOS) is Washington University’s annual move-out donation drive. It is a university-wide effort designed to make it easy for all students to donate their unwanted items at move-out in a manner that benefits our community and keeps usable goods out of the landfill.
> International Climate Negotiations Seminar: Each year, a group of graduate and undergraduate WashU students attend the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Each delegate closely follows a topic at the conference by attending side events, sitting in on negotiations, and speaking to diplomats and other students from around the world.
The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available (optional):
Estimated percentage of students (full-time and part-time) that participate annually in sustainability-focused co-curricular education and outreach programs (0-100):
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.