Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 60.52
Liaison Lindsey MacDonald
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Western Washington University
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 4.00 Grace Wang
Professor, Dept. Chair, Director
Urban & Enfironmental Planning & Policy; Director, Sustainability Engagement Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Western has two primary methods to encourage student research in sustainability: The Campus Sustainability Planning Studio and the Sustainable Action Fund.

The Campus Sustainability Planning Studio (CSPS) is a 400-level hands-on, problem-based learning where student research teams help Western and the Bellingham community achieve sustainability in these areas and more: Energy Conservation, Waste Reduction, Transportation, Local Foods, Green Purchasing, Green Building, Sustainability Media. CSPS is taught almost every fall, winter and spring quarters and is open to all Western students. CSPS students have completed over 70 research projects since 1999 for on and off-campus sustainability topics. A full list of proposals and presentations can be found here:


The Sustainable Action Fund Grant Program provides funding to innovative, student-driven projects focused on promoting experiential learning opportunities and sustainable practices at Western Washington University. All program participants are provided ongoing coaching on conducting sustainability research and apply that research to SAF grant proposals. The SAF Grant Program is managed by the Office of Sustainability and supported by the AS Environmental and Sustainability Programs. Students, staff and faculty are all eligible to apply for grant funding. Projects funded through the SAF Grant Program aim to: Increase student involvement and education, reduce the university's environmental impact & create an aware & engaged campus community. Sustainable Action Fund Grant Program research associates have completed over 30 projects. A full list of projects can be found here:


Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Sustainability Faculty Fellows Program trains faculty to learn how to develop sustainability modules into their coursework. Selected faculty will work with others to integrate sustainability-related projects, themes, or assignments into current or future courses.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Nothing formal, though the Provost’s Office is supporting curricular initiatives to address sustainability in the classroom.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Western Libraries purchases and provides access to numerous databases, journals, e-books, print materials, and other resources to support sustainability research and learning. Western Libraries also provides access to materials needed for research that are not owned in their collection by obtaining those materials from other libraries that are part of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, or via interlibrary loan. Western Libraries also offers support for sustainability-related research and curriculum needs via there their customized instruction sessions, course guides, supplementary materials, finding aids, and library courses offered for credit.

Western Libraries Research Consultation Librarians meet frequently with classes to teach students about how to use library resources, and they also encourage faculty and students to schedule individualized instruction sessions whenever needed. Librarians also work with faculty to determine what materials are needed to support curriculum and research needs. Western Libraries also offers a number of customized instructional sessions that can complement courses related to sustainability, environmental education, environmental sciences, etc. The Libraries also teach a number of library courses for credit, which in addition to teaching research and critical thinking skills, often integrate environmental research topics or themes into the course work itself. (One example is the Library 320 class “Fly Fishing in American Literature and culture,” which considers the implications of fly fishing as a cultural phenomenon on gender, race, and the environment.)

Western Libraries also offers public programs, events, and exhibits related to environmental topics and sustainability, and frequently showcases and highlights the work of faculty engaged in research and writing about these topics.

Additionally, WWU’s institutional repository, Western CEDAR is part of an innovative global movement promoting open access to scholarship and creative works, making these outputs freely available to all users all over the world, which is in alignment with the Earth Charter values and is in keeping with models of education that promote social justice by making information free and accessible to all. Western CEDAR is a service of Western Libraries provided in partnership with the Graduate School, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at WWU. Additionally, some of the collections housed in CEDAR related to sustainability research include and are not limited to:

• Institute for Watershed Studies
• Huxley College of the Environment Collection
• Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

Here are a few examples of some of the other resources the Libraries offers:

Numerous customized course and subject guides available online designed to support specific classes or subject areas related to environmental studies and environmental sciences, including but not limited to:

• Environmental Studies Databases: http://libguides.wwu.edu/sb.php?subject_id=62122
• Environmental History and Activism: Local and Regional Resources: http://libguides.wwu.edu/hrenvironment
• Databases for Energy: http://libguides.wwu.edu/energy_databases
• Environmental and Resource Policy: Library Resources: http://libguides.wwu.edu/envs304
• Fundamentals of Ecology: Library Resources: http://libguides.wwu.edu/esci325
• Research in Environmental Sciences: http://libguides.wwu.edu/esci501
• Government Environmental Websites: http://libguides.wwu.edu/govenvironment
• Fish and Fishing: http://libguides.wwu.edu/fishandfishing

Examples of E-books available on the topic of Sustainability can be seen here: http://library.wwu.edu/goto/?Qyqt5ua4vb
Example of materials available by expanding the search beyond Western Libraries’ collections to include consortial access (Summit) can be seen here: http://library.wwu.edu/goto/?T3BCkQ2p2A

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.