Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.79
Liaison Leslie North
Submission Date March 5, 2020

STARS v2.2

Western Kentucky University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Leslie North
Director of Sustainability
Geography and Geology
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an active student group focused on sustainability?:

Name and a brief description of the active student groups focused on sustainability:

The Student Government Association created a sustainability committee (EcoTops) in 2015. This group provides leadership in identifying need for and the implementation of positive change in campus policy and practice, and peer to peer education regarding these efforts. This committee partners annually with the Office of Sustainability to host the annual Earth Day Festival on campus, which they began in 2007 and continue to plan and host in partnership with the Office of Sustainability to this day.

WKU GreenToppers, founded in 2007, is a student organization focused on sustainability awareness and education on campus. The GreenToppers seek to bring sustainable practices to the local community by having a volunteer presence and spreading environmental knowledge through student-led educational opportunities.

WKU Water Professionals is a student chapter of the Kentucky/Tennessee Section of the American Water Works Association and Water Environment Association. This student organization seeks to create a network of students interested in the field of water resource management. They bring guest speakers to campus and support a selection of students attending professional conferences related to water resources.

WKU Chapter of the WaterStep Club responds to critical needs for safe water by evaluating and implementing solutions and teaching people to use those tools on campus.

The campus also has chapters of Agricultural Education Society, Gamma Sigma Signma Service Sorority, Ducks Unlimted, Habitat for Humanity, Horticulture club, Student Rural Health Association, Student United Wat, and Topperwell Peer Health Educators.

Does the institution have a garden, farm, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, or an urban agriculture project 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 WKU Office of Sustainability hosts a community garden accessible to all students, faculty, and staff. The garden features sustainable gardening practices such as hugelkultur, organic methods, seed saving, rainwater harvest and use for irrigation, permaculture, and other best practices. This project is managed by a student gardener and volunteers. Additionally, the Office of Sustainability partners with other departments and local experts to connect students to off-campus volunteer opportunities to learn about sustainable gardening practices (Top Crops, Need More Acres Farms).

WKU has owned an off-campus farm since 1934. The farm raises livestock and grows a variety of crops, allowing students to gain experience in their area of agricultural interest. Livestock enterprises consist of dairy, beef, and equine, preparing students for careers in both Animal Science and Pre-Veterinary careers. Crops include corn, soybeans, wheat, grass hay, and alfalfa, providing hands on experience for Agronomy, Plant Science, Horticulture, and Turf Management careers. The farm provides research opportunities in soil testing, USDA research, faculty research, and corn and soybean research trials. Students can learn innovative composting strategies by working in the farm's mulch yard. Students combine leaves, manure and campus food waste to create high-quality compost.

WKU Baker Arboretum featured a workshop on "Your Food Preferences: How They Affect You, The Community, And The Planet" in 2019. The Arboretum also featured a special showing of "The Biggest Little Farm" in partnership with the WKU Department of Agriculture and Food Sciences. This film has been described as authentic, soul-stirring story of regenerative agriculture. It focuses on a couple's journey to start a traditional farm, build healthy soil, and learn how to farm with nature.

Does the institution have a student-run enterprise that includes sustainability as part of its mission statement or stated purpose?:

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

WKU Enactus is a highly engaged team of students supported by the WKU Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Enactus is "a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world."

The TOP IDEAS Entrepreneurship Challenge is a student competition sponsored by the WKU Gordon Ford College of Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Division to develop the best business ideas that "could make a difference." https://www.wku.edu/cei/top_ideas.php

Does the institution have a sustainable investment fund, green revolving fund, or sustainable microfinance initiative 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 Office of Sustainability maintains a Green Development Fund. This fund is supported purely by donations. Students can apply for "seed" money from the fund to student projects and support new sustainability-related initiatives of the University. http://alumni.wku.edu/s/808/index.aspx?sid=808&gid=1&pgid=252&cid=1863&ecid=1863&cri=

Has the institution hosted a conference, speaker series, symposium, or similar event focused on sustainability during the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia, or similar events focused on sustainability:

In November 2017, the Office of Sustainability partnered with the Center for Citizenship and Social Justice to pilot the first deliberative dialogue hosted on campus. Students, faculty and staff were invited to come together and discuss the issue of climate change. The discussions were moderated by student employees of the Office of Sustainability, as well as members of the SGA Sustainability Committee. Individuals are encouraged to share their opinions and begin exploring solutions as they attempt to find common ground. This style of communication is intended to teach cooperation rather division in relation to public problem solving.

In February 2019, the Islamic Center of Bowling Green hosted its seventh annual Interfaith Workshop on Sustainability and Social Justice, a two-day event organized by Western Kentucky University’s Department of Philosophy and Religion. Every year, the event incorporates social justice speakers, as well as those with a background in STEM. University co-sponsors of the event include the Office of International Programs International Year of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Office of Research and Creative Activity, the Office of Sustainability, the Student Government Association and the departments of biology, communication, diversity and community studies, geography and geology, history, public health and social work.

In Fall 2018, WKU Water Professionals hosted a Women in Water/STEM series discussing careers in the water industry and female leadership in a male-dominated field. The team featured an additional set of speakers during the fall 2019 academic term.

In spring 2020, WKU will host a "Literacy Project on Climate Change: City-Wide Interdisciplinary Workshop". The workshop is designed to bring together people of different backgrounds to have an open dialogue about climate change.

In 2019, Melissa Marshal, educated students on effective communication strategies to help them relay complex ideas in an "easy-to-understand" way as part of the cultural enhancement series . "Whether it’s the latest app, a safer design, or a lifesaving drug, good science is what makes innovation possible. But when scientists can’t present their ideas with clarity and confidence, innovation stagnates. Melissa Marshall works with scientists and engineers across the spectrum—from the halls of academia to the boardrooms of Fortune 100 corporations—to help them transform their presentation skills and present their work in ways that inspire people to take action.

In October 2019, Eve Ewing spoke about Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side through the Cultural Enhancement Series.

In 2017, WKU hosted Robert Reich, Chancellor's professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He discussed government, policy, and issues such as the Affordable Care Act and its effects on the social welfare of Kentucky residents.

WKU co-hosted the National Drought Forum in September 2019. Scientists and policymakers from across the nation, including those from the Kentucky Division of Water, gathered to address topics and issues associated with drought. NOAA’s National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) & National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) partnered with the Kentucky Climate Center in WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology and the Kentucky Division of Water to host the forum.

Hilltopper Nutrition, in collaboration with WKU Restaurant Group and Campus Recreation and Wellness provides a variety of events and programming to support sustainability efforts on campus. Hilltopper Nutrition works with the office of Sustainability, supporting the campus food pantry and partnering with community partners and other campus departments to educate and encourage sustainable practices by holding events on campus throughout the school year.

2016-2017 Programming
-Summer Cookout – Partnered with WKU Recycling to provide students with information on how to start recycling while at WKU.
Camp Big Red 2017 - Special events during Camp Big Red partnering with the office of Sustainability (187 kids)
Harvest Party – Elementary school students visited the campus community garden and student staff cut up fresh produce grown in the garden for kids to try. (65 kids)
Sensory Day – Students were brought to the community garden to learn about general principles of sustainability while getting to interact in the garden. (64 kids)
Bee Keepers – A volunteer from Big Red Beekeepers spoke to students about the role of bee hives in the community garden and the importance of protecting pollinator species. (58 kids)

-2017-2018 Programming
Potter College Fall Festival – had tabling alongside Office of Sustainability 95 students attended. Collaboration event with Health Education and Promotion
Supporting Local Farmers – highlighted local produce in Fresh Food Company
Top Crops – promoted Top Crops program at Community Farmers Market event
Participating sponsor in Sustainability Living Learning Community. Had various events highlighting community farmers market, Top Crops program, and local farmers.
What’s In Season 10.13.17 Highlighted in season fruits and vegetables from community farmers market.
Farmer’s Market/CSA 10.25.17 (67 people) Local farmers shared the importance of locally sources agriculture, featured local business such as Jackson’s Orchard, Kenny’s Country Cheese and ATP Greenhouses. Wholesome was a participating and supporting partner in this event.
Canned Food Drive 2.21.18 (32 people) Created salsa out of canned goods. Students brought canned food items for donations.
Weigh the Waste 8.17.18 WKU Recycling demonstrated the amount of landfill waste and recyclable waste is collected at WKU and informed the campus community on ways to continue to improve reducing, reusing and recycling practices on campus.
2019-2020 Programming
Healthy Days 2019 (500 people) How to compost with green-to-go containers
Market on the Avenue 9.18.19, 10.16.19 Event in which Hilltopper Nutrition (formerly Wholesome) provided services of Full time Dietitian on campus available to students and provided healthier options on campus in the form of food samples and informative handouts.
February Food Drive - Hosted by Hilltopper Nutrition with support of Campus Recreation and Wellness, WKU Restaurant Group, WKU Athletics, the WKU Store and the Office of Sustainability. Donations to benefit on campus food pantry within Office of Sustainability ~500 food items donated during the month of February.

Has the institution hosted a cultural arts event, installation, or performance focused on sustainability with the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations, or performances focused on sustainability:

The annual WKU Cultural Enhancement Series (CES) provides the campus and community the opportunity to meet some of the nation’s most influential artists and intellectuals. The goal of the series is to challenge audiences, to expose them to new ideas, and give them new perspectives on our world. Attendance is free and open to all and students are encouraged to attend through a variety of incentives.

In April 2018, WKU presented an Earth Day themed chorale based around a range of environmental issues such as climate change and last-chance tourism.

In Fall 2018, Patrick Dougherty debuted 'Stick Work' where he created large scale environmental sculptures made from intertwined tree saplings on the WKU campus. Students were invited to volunteer and help build the sculptures. Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Dougherty began to learn more about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material.

In February 2020, the WKU Museum launched the Gazing Deeply: The Art and Science of Mammoth Cave exhibit at the museum. Coinciding with the upcoming 50th anniversary of Earth Day, this exhibit is a timely look into conservation issues, the interdisciplinary and collaborative work of scientists and artists, and features artworks and narratives by WKU faculty and students. Visitors to the exhibition discover:
• How Mammoth Cave has formed and is explored, including how explorers study and document the cave;
• What international karst scientists saw when they looked at historic illustrations of Mammoth Cave;
• Artistic works by art instructor Julie Schuck and her students about Mammoth Cave and its inhabitants, informed by their tours of the cave and scientific studies;
• Mammoth Cave's sister parks and how YOU can help protect these vital regions; and
• How WKU is fostering applied, interdisciplinary learning and inspiring the next generation of Science+Art changemakers.

In October 2019, the WKU Kentucky Museum hosted its annual ‘Hammer In’. Hammer In, a free family-friendly community event, is a gathering of metalworkers endeavoring to preserve the craft and techniques of the blacksmith forge and foundry arts through demonstrations in both historic and modern day form.

In September 2019, the WKU journalism department hosted a photography exhibition titled "Our World Burning". As deadly wildfires globally increase in number and severity, residents of fire-prone areas are finding themselves on the frontline of these historic and potential climate-changing events. This exhibition of over 50 images and a documentary film from recent California fire seasons, came together in this body of work from nine critically-acclaimed photojournalists and explored the ramifications these fires have and reveal the pain, suffering and all-encompassing loss the victims endure.

Printmaking: Screenprinting course created installation about Coral Reefs and their importance. The class developed the theme as a group and each student created one element. The images were drawn, made into screenprints, hand printed 30 times and cut out. They then worked as a group to compose and install the work within the space.

Does the institution have a wilderness or outdoors program that follow Leave No Trace principles?:

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:

The WKU Outdoor Recreation and Activities Center (ORAC) offers guided camping trips, floats, and other outdoor activities. All emphasize Leave No Trace and are student governed under the advisement of Intramural Recreational Sports. ORAC also maintains a challenge course and offers equipment rental and bicycle maintenance for a small fee.
Leave No Trace is also a significant element of many of WKU's Recreation courses.

Has the institution had a sustainability-focused theme chosen for a themed semester, year, or first-year experience during the previous three years?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

Does the institution have a program through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

Project Grow, under the advisement of the Office of Sustainability, offers sustainable life skills workshops such as organic and sustainable gardening and seasonal, local cooking. Students, faculty, and staff are invited to attend. Produce from the Office of Sustainability garden is used to demonstrate sustainable, healthy recipes. Events are student planned and executed where they can earn credit for a class project or volunteer hours. These events continue throughout the summer months.

Since the WKU Office of Sustainability is uniquely housed in a historic home on the WKU campus rather than a traditional academic or administrative building, in 2019, the Office of Sustainability was remodeled to feature sustainable "demonstration home" features. This elements are discussed on all tours of the house to teach students about how living spaces can become more sustainable through simple changes.

Resource Conservation has presented at RA training, assisted in move-in recycling efforts, offers sustainability resources to RA's and assisted in MasterPlan sustainability efforts.

The Office of Sustainability has partnered with WKU Athletics to feature sustainability-related talks during student athlete student life skills workshops. The Office has also partnered with the WKU Athletics Division to develop student-athlete led sustainability initiatives on campus.

Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

Student engagement is a primary focus in all university efforts related to sustainability, with the idea that involving students in these initiatives in a practical and applied way prepares them for such efforts in their professional capacities. For example...

During the 2017-2018 academic year, the Office of Sustainability offered three student employment positions. From 2018-present day, the Office has employed 5 students, with an additional 5 working for the office as ambassadors. These student received a scholarship for their assistance each academic semester.

The Department of Resource Conservation employs 5 student workers; two to assist in day-to-day operations and implement the Diddle/Smith Recycling Program, one to process electronic waste and make auction listings and two to facilitate the dining compost program.

WKU Dining Services employees a student to assist with WKU Food Recovery program and help develop sustainable dining programs. An additional student is employed to develop outreach materials related to sustainable food and dining services on campus.

Does the institution have a graduation pledge through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:

A brief description of the graduation pledge(s):

A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that do not fall into one of the above categories:

The Office of Sustainability partners with Housing and Residence Life, the Student Wellness (WellU) program, and Dining Services on programs that educate students about ways that they can reduce their personal as well as the university's environmental impact. These include topics such as energy conservation, local and healthy food, and waste reduction.

WKU Resource Conservation partners with Fashion Merchandising, GEOG 280 classes, HRL, SGA and various campus/community organizations to provide recycling and composting at events. WKU Resource Conservation partners with Fashion Merchandising to promote repair through "Fix it Fest" and up-cycle old university police uniforms in their intro to sewing class. WKU Resource Conservation partners with GEOG 280 classes to perform a Waste Characterization Study as a part of the Waste portion of their class. Resource Conservation partners with SGA to pass waste reduction legislation. Resource Conservation has provided recycling/compost bins at the Bowling Green International Festival and BG Science Fest. Since recycling was ended in the Warren County region, the county in which WKU resides, WKU has allowed free public drop-off of recyclable materials in large community bins we have placed on our campus.

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.