Oberlin College to Invest Student Fee Surplus in Local Community

The Board of Trustees has approved the College and Community Investment Plan, a resolution to invest a residual portion of the Student Activity Fund in certificates of deposit (CDs) with the Ohio Educational Credit Union (OHECU). Since OHECU is a local credit union, money invested in these CDs will be lent out to local businesses and individuals in the community. The Student Finance Committee and the Responsible Investing Organization, a student group that advocates for the college to bank and invest more responsibly, proposed this resolution.

Johns Hopkins U to Give $10M to Local Neighborhoods

(U.S.): The university has announced plans to give $10 million over the next five years to help communities surrounding its campus. The university also announced plans to hire more city residents and increase supply purchases from local businesses owned by women and minorities.

The New School Solar House Becomes Home to Local Families

A student-assembled solar powered house that won the Solar Decathlon’s affordability contest will become a real home for two families in Washington D.C. Working with project partner Habitat for Humanity, volunteer builders fully realized the housing design by adding a second story and a second unit, making it a two-family home.

U Chicago Staff Help Create Urban Farm

(U.S.): Several members of the Facilities Services’ grounds crew volunteered to turn a vacant city lot into a 1.7-acre farm. The farm will provide produce to restaurants and will feature an on-site farm stand, where community members can purchase cheap local produce year-round. The project is part of City Farm, a citywide farming and composting initiative.

U Wisconsin Oshkosh Holds Community Building Contest

(U.S.): The university has awarded nearly $3,000 to four teams as part of its Creating a Stronger Community Contest. In its second year, the contest is designed to generate excitement and action around community-building projects. First place was awarded to Growing Oshkosh, a new organization created by an alumna that aims to raise awareness and educate citizens about the numerous benefits of local food.

U York Participates in Tree Planting Initiative

(U.K.): The university has partnered with Woodland Trust to reforest a local area through two community tree plantings. The project is part of a nation-wide initiative to plant more trees.

Washington U St. Louis Helps to Address Vacant City Properties

(U.S.): A joint program between the city and the university Office of Sustainability is seeking to turn vacant land into an opportunity that inspires innovative thinking. The Sustainable Land Lab is a public competition that will give teams the opportunity to demonstrate their ideas through tangible projects at the scale of a single vacant lot.

UC Berkeley Partners with Community to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals

University researchers have teamed up with a local organization to plant thousands of ferns in an effort to extricate toxic chemicals from city lots. The project, spearheaded by the campus department of environmental science and Berkeley Partners for Parks, will experiment with a specialized fern known to extract arsenic from soil. If successful, the city will transform the area into a greenway lined with bicycle paths and trees. The project is funded by a $40,000 campus grant, though further fundraising is still necessary.

Carnegie Mellon U Launches Campus Farmers Market

The university garden and CulinArt have partnered to host a market on campus. Students will be able to spend their food service dollars on fresh groceries that they would otherwise have to buy off campus. The CMU Garden supplies the produce.

Kennesaw State U Debuts Campus Farmers Market

The university has begun hosting a weekly campus farmers market. Eleven vendors offer locally grown and organic fare, including wildflower honey, heirloom tomatoes, organic granola, broccoli, hydroponic lettuce, apples, and handmade goat’s milk products.

Walden U Participates in Global Day of Service

(U.S.): More than 2,500 volunteers from the university’s international community of students, alumni, faculty and staff led more than 150 service projects in 700 cities during the seventh annual Global Day of Service. Projects included the sustainability of a multigenerational neighborhood, health screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar; working in food banks; cleaning and cooking in Ronald McDonald Houses; holding drives to donate food, clothing, infant and maternity items and coats for veterans; and cleaning up roads, beaches and parks.

Portland State U Participates in Public Space Reclamation Event

More than 40 students, faculty, alumni and community members constructed an Earthbench at the university’s community orchard as part the 2012 Village Building Convergence. The Peace on Earthbench project upcycled waste into community space and diverted about 70 pounds of trash from the landfill. The annual festival combines crowd-sourced community development, hands-on education and celebration of reclaiming public space.

U Maryland to Launch Rain Barrel Program

Interns at the university’s Extension program have partnered with Prince George’s County to place rain barrels across the County in an effort to reduce erosion and bring the County closer to refining its stormwater management program. Once the university is able to secure more funds, organizers hope to include rebates for rain gardens, green roofs and impermeable pavers.

Harvard U Student Victory Helps Renewable Energy Contractors

Harvard Law students have prevailed in a two-year battle to lift restrictions on the installation of solar power in Massachusetts. For more than two years, the university’s Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic has represented a group of general contractors who specialize in renewable energy projects but were being blocked from installing solar power by a state licensing board.

McMaster U Creates Teaching Community Garden

(U.S.): The objective of the university's new garden is to facilitate local food production while providing teaching and learning opportunities and engaging the greater community. The design features two raised beds, two street level beds and permeable paving pathways. The garden plan includes a variety of plants and vegetables.

Yale U Students Volunteer in Local Neighborhoods this Summer

(U.S.): As part of the Yale President’s Public Service Fellows (PPSF) program, 33 students planted trees and spruced up buildings in neighborhoods around New Haven this summer. This is the first year that the PPSF participants spent a few days undertaking volunteer work as part of the program.

U Louisville, City Officials Plant Downtown Green Roof

The green roof is among the sustainable features of the first building at Nucleus Innovation Park-Market Street, a subsidiary of the U Louisville Foundation. The park is expected to attract more jobs, research and innovation in lifelong wellness and aging-care services.

U Minnesota Assists Community with Sustainability Master Plan

The Central Minnesota Sustainable Development Plan targets affordable housing, broadband access, demographic shifts, economic development, education and workforce improvement, energy and transportation options, health care access and natural resource management.

U Buffalo Conducts Renewable Energy Education Outreach

Children in the university’s Child Care Center recently learned about renewable energy, art and sustainability with the campus' 3,200-panel photovoltaic solar array. The children participated in several activities including baking cookies in a solar oven. The university plans to hold more classes in the future.

EPA Announces Youth Sustainability Challenge Winners

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the winners of the Youth Sustainability Challenge, a project that challenged American youth to submit a video that shared what they are doing to encourage sustainability in their communities. Georgetown University (DC) students' "A Generation of Energy" won the Best Overall Video category.

Calgary Students Work on Solar-Powered Emergency Response

Students at the School of Information and Communications Technologies are working on a solar-powered communications system that will supply phone and internet connectivity for emergency response, geological survey and remote residential applications. The students are working with prototyping lab Calgary Protospace, a local incubator for innovative technology ideas, and renewable energy consultants Think Energy, on the project.

Hartwick College Launches Watershed Curriculum Workshop

The college’s Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies has announced a professional development workshop that brings together area teachers, faculty, education majors, and regional and national watershed experts in a project called Think, Act, Protect the Upper Susquehanna River watershed (TAP-US). TAP-US will help area teachers develop and offer hands-on, inquiry-based lesson plans to increase environmental literacy and engage students in activities to protect and maintain the ecology of rivers, streams and wetlands.

NACUBO, Second Nature Call on Gov't for Help with Sustainability

A recent report released by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, (NACUBO), Second Nature and the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) calls on the federal government to make it easier for colleges and universities to finance big sustainability projects on their campuses, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. The report includes several policy proposals to create incentives for colleges to pursue large-scale energy-efficiency projects like retrofitting laboratories and developing renewable energy sources to power their campuses.

Temple U Collaborates to Make Philadelphia More Bike-Friendly

After a ThinkBike Workshop with the Dutch Cycling Embassy, students and staff at the university worked with City of Philadelphia transportation planners and cyclists from around the region to develop specific bike-friendly proposals for each neighborhood. Proposals include a two-way bike route, increased covered and secured bike parking and storage capacity, and additional bike lanes.

RIT Partners With Local Agency in Pollution Prevention Programs

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology has partnered with GreenHomeNYC on a Green Homes, Green Cities outreach program. The program will educate New York City and Buffalo residents on waste prevention, energy efficiency and the use of non-toxic, recycled and reusable building materials in construction and renovation projects.

Loyola U Chicago Expands Farmers Market

(U.S.): Initiated and run by students, the second season of the university's farmers market will feature 11 vendors providing fresh produce, local dairy and baked goods through October. This year, the market has filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to accept food stamps and senior food coupons.

Masdar IST Offers Sustainability Lessons to K-12 Students

(United Arab Emirates): The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology recently partnered with renewable energy company Masday on a science fair for Emirates National School students that displayed projects focused on sustainability, energy and the environment with the aim of promoting renewable energy and the importance of a sustainable lifestyle.

Eastern Connecticut State U to Create Community Garden

With a grant from Northeast Utilities, university faculty, staff and students will develop educational events that will enable school groups and other community members to learn about developing urban gardens and green spaces. Events will include information on how to compost, develop a vertical garden, harvest seeds, market harvests, as well as seed-saving techniques.

U South Carolina Yard Sale Raises $3K for Habitat for Humanity

The university's first Give It Up For Good yard sale recently raised $3,414 to help construct a Habitat for Humanity house on campus next spring. The environmentally friendly house will be built by students and then moved to another location for a family in need. The program also collected 2,258 pounds of food and 138 pounds of plastic grocery bags that were donated to a local food bank.

CSU Channel Islands Hosts Sustainability Workshop for Businesses

(U.S.): The university's California Institute for Social Business has partnered with CAUSE (Coastal Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy) Triple Bottom Line Business Network to educate the business community about the benefits of social business, emphasizing the importance of social and environmental sustainability in achieving profit and financial goals. The university's upcoming symposium will feature speakers from B Corporation, Patagonia and Women’s Economic Ventures.

Princeton U Energy Service Corps Weatherizes Local Homes

(U.S.): Student volunteers with the university's Energy Service Corps (ESC), a joint project of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund and AmeriCorps, recently weatherized 10 homes owned by senior citizens with low to moderate incomes. The Housewarming Project is a partnership with ESC and the town of Princeton's Sustainable Princeton initiative.

UC Berkeley Issues Statement About Gill Tract

"After weeks of patient dialogue, engagement and rejected offers of compromise, we deeply regret that the occupiers’ actions and continued insistence on free and unfettered access to what is an open-air laboratory left us no choice but to take this step," says a statement issued by the University of California, Berkeley administration after police broke up an Occupy the Farm encampment on agricultural research land owned by the university. The purpose of police interference at Gill Tract, says the university, was to "ensure our faculty and students can conduct the research projects to which they have devoted much of their academic and professional lives." The university says that prior to any police action, efforts to talk with occupiers about how the unused portion of the land could be repurposed were "rejected or ignored."

Police Clear 'Occupy the Farm' Protest at UC Berkeley

Police broke up an Occupy the Farm encampment on agricultural research land owned by the University of California, Berkeley, reports a recent SF Gate article. Loosely affiliated with Occupy Wall Street, the activists tilled two acres, planted vegetables, set up a drip system and pitched tents on the site in protest against planned commercial development and housing nearby. The group is asking the university to preserve the tract for agricultural study and urban farming.

28 College Leaders Commit 5% of Earnings to Fight Global Poverty

Twenty-eight current and former college leaders have publicly come forward as charter members of the Presidents' Pledge Against Global Poverty. Reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, they are donating 5 percent of their total compensation this year to charities that fight global poverty. The pledge is designed to help reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which include halving the number of people in the world who live in extreme poverty by 2015.

Cornell U Partners to Create Solutions for Global Concerns

Cornell University and the global humanitarian organization CARE have launched CARE-Cornell, a partnership that will merge the university’s research with CARE's experience fighting poverty to create solutions for global concerns including world hunger and climate change. CARE-Cornell will provide financial support for international projects through the Impact through Innovation Fund, supplemented by competitive external grants. Five projects are currently under way in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Vietnam, Sierra Leone and Zambia.

Coastal Carolina U Hosts Farmers Market

The one-day market, featuring local producers, was held to promote the quality and value in local, fresh produce and products to the campus community and public.

Cornell U Helps 'Green' Low-Income Housing

(U.S.): Funded by a $3 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant and led by nonprofit Community Environmental Center of Long Island City, Cornell University (New York) will help test new, energy-saving approaches in older multifamily housing developments in the New York City region. The initiative will implement building retrofits, provide education and training and conduct a study as part of an effort to demonstrate cost savings and environmental benefits of energy retrofits and an education intervention. The university will coordinate intervention and control groups to examine changes in tenant and superintendents' knowledge and motivation.

Portland State U Professor Leads Clean Water Effort in Rwanda

(U.S.): Owned and funded by water quality testing company DelAgua, and contracted to Manna Energy Limited, the project will distribute water filters and efficient cook stoves to 750,000 households, nearly all of the Western Province of Rwanda, reducing the demand for wood fuel. Portland State University (Oregon) Assistant Professor of Engineering Evan Thomas, who co-founded Manna, is heading up the effort.

Skidmore College Students Host Nuclear Awareness Forum

(U.S.): As part of a "Community Engagement" course at the college, students recently held an information session to raise public awareness of the health and environmental implications associated with a local nuclear site. The students have been working with concerned citizens and former site employees this semester to disseminate information to those who live near the site about the lack of safety features including emergency cooling systems, containment systems to keep radiation from reaching the public, and a 10-mile evacuation plan.

U California Berkeley Students Work with Communities During Break

(U.S.): More than 136 students participated in the university’s Alternative Breaks program, lending their skills to public service projects. This year’s participants spent the last week of March working on projects involving animal welfare, health care, immigration and homelessness across the country. As part of the program, the students also learned about social justice issues at play in the surrounding community.

Seattle U Gives Water Bottle Proceeds to Haiti Water Project

Proceeds from the university's sale of reusable water bottles are now going to an Engineers Without Borders student chapter project that makes clean water accessible to Haitians. In its first 18 months, the initiative has raised $4,400.

Unity College Partners to Raise Chickens for Food Security

Unity College (Maine) students have partnered with the Waldo County Technical Center to grow broiler chickens in support of hunger relief efforts in Waldo County. The students are developing management plans, delivering animal care and learning more about how local agriculture can work to improve food security.

Luther College Pilots Employee CSA Program

The college's Wellness and Sustainability programs are collaborating to reimburse faculty and staff that take part in community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, take two cooking classes and become part of two book groups offered this summer that support a holistic approach to food education. The college is working with three local farms to provide CSAs to the campus community.

U Arizona Debuts Community Garden

The 46 plots in the university's new garden will be divided among local community members, students, faculty and staff. Financed by the University Green Fund, the $25,000 garden features solar-powered timers that regulate when the plots are irrigated.

U California Berkeley Hosts Green Workforce Development Fair

Local high school students recently explored college and career opportunities in the clean-tech economy at the East Bay Green Corridor’s Green Education and Career Exploration Fair, hosted by the University of California, Berkeley. Local community colleges and workforce training organizations represented opportunities for sustainability-related programs of study and green job training certifications, and community nonprofits showcased advocacy efforts in areas of environmental justice and sustainability.

Institutions Earn Presidential Recognition for Community Service

(U.S.): Five colleges and universities received Presidential Awards in the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, announced this month. Carson-Newman College (Tennessee), Miami University (Ohio), North Carolina State University, Seattle University (Washington) and the University of Pennsylvania earned the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community service. A total of 642 schools were recognized this year for their impact on issues including literacy, neighborhood revitalization and supporting at-risk youth.

Maharishi U Mgmt Students Raise $ for Caribbean Sustainable Farm

(U.S. and Caribbean Islands): The recent fundraiser will help send three Maharishi University of Management (Iowa) students to the Caribbean island of Dominica in May, where they will spend three months establishing a small-scale vetiver-grass nursery. They hope to make cuttings of this grass available to farmers when they return for another season the following year.

Students Worldwide Collaborate to Improve Lives of Rural Poor

(Ghana): University students from Pakistan, Cambodia, Tanzania, Ghana and the U.S. convened in Ghana to showcase designs aimed at improving the lives of the rural poor as part of the International Development Design Summit, reported the Chronicle of Higher Education last fall. For the past five years, the summit has brought together students, lecturers, engineers, farmers, mechanics and other practitioners from around the world to collaborate on developing products, services and business models to serve the rural poor.

Clark U Students Initiate Recycling Program at Local K-12 School

Clark University's (Massachusetts) Recycling Crew is working to expand hands-on waste reduction education activities for local fifth graders into a school-wide recycling program at Woodland Academy.

Richard Stockton College Students Spend Break Building Homes

Part of the "Collegiate Challenge" national alternative spring break program, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey students and staff helped construct and rehabilitate housing in Rocky Mount, N.C. for families in need.