AASCU Announces Program to Assess Political Learning & Engagement

The American Democracy Project (ADP), a program of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), recently announced a new two-year initiative to work with 12 AASCU campuses over two years to pilot processes for engaging campus communities in measuring, understanding and improving campus climates in order to prepare students to be informed, engaged citizens.

13 North American Universities Form Climate Action Coalition

The University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) is a group of 13 North American research universities, each of whom will convene a climate change forum in 2018 tailored to meet local and regional objectives shared across sectors and will aim to speed the implementation of research-driven climate policies and solutions. A coalition-wide report, to be released in late 2018, will synthesize the best practices, policies and recommendations from all UC3 forums into a framework for continued progress on climate change goals across the nation and the world. The UC3 will operate in close partnership with Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network.

University Deans Refuse Funding From Tobacco-Tied Anti-Smoking Group

Seventeen American and Canadian public health schools have signed a pledge saying they won't work with or accept money from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, an anti-smoking group funded by Philip Morris International. Philip Morris International plans to contribute close to $1 billion to fund the organization, whose mission is to reduce illness and death from smoking. The statement claims both the tobacco industry and Philip Morris International have a long history of funding research in ways meant to purposely confuse the public and advance their own interests.

U Iowa Adopts 'Climate for Change' Theme for Spring Semester

The Climate for Change theme aims to get students to think about the environmental problems they may face in the future. Throughout the semester, the university will offer events on destruction of natural resources, climate change, and food and water insecurity.

Keele U Partners on Large-Scale Smart Energy Project

(U.K.) The Smart Energy Network Demonstrator will be a single, integrated electricity, gas and heat system that includes the digitalization of 24 substations and the installation over 1,500 smart meters, 500 home controllers and a five megawatt renewable integration package. Developed in partnership with Siemens, the project will provide analysis of energy consumption to enable demand management and allow businesses to access the university's infrastructure in order to develop and test renewable and smart energy technologies.

Humber College Receives Fair Trade Designation

The Canadian Fair Trade Network designation was granted to Humber’s south Etobicoke campus in mid-January for the college’s commitment to ensuring the availability of Fair Trade products, such as coffee, tea and chocolate in vending machines, the bookstore, and campus eateries and catering. Achieving the designation is part of the college’s five-year plan to make its campuses more sustainable.

Blackfeet CC & U Montana Western Partner to Increase Indigenous Educators

A new partnership between the two schools, aided by a $1 million federal Office of Indian Education grant, seeks to design and implement a program that addresses the shortage of teachers serving Indigenous children on the Blackfeet Reservation. Through this grant, the schools have recruited Blackfeet faculty to design and deliver a Blackfeet culture-infused curriculum for Blackfeet teacher candidates who teach or will teach in area schools.

U Florida Publishes Guidebook for Integrating Cultural Resources into Disaster Planning

With support from the National Park Service, the Conservation Clinic at the university's Levin College of Law recently released a guidebook to help Florida state and local governments better integrate cultural resources into hazard planning. It describes current emergency management and preservation planning frameworks, provides examples of disaster planning practices, and presents new policy and planning recommendations.

U Illinois Chicago Hospitals Pilot Providing Shelter for Homeless

The university has concluded a 2015 pilot program that provides housing for 26 emergency room “super utilizers”. Health care costs per patient housed dropped 18 percent on average each month. The University of Illinois Hospital will expand the program to house 25 additional homeless patients. At least three other Chicago hospitals are launching or recently launched similar programs.

U Washington Creates Sustainability Engagement Games

A group at the university held the Sustainability Game Jam, an event that brought together dozens of students, faculty and staff over a weekend to create game prototypes that communicate concepts around sustainability. It was funded by a Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) grant.

U Virginia to Facilitate Governor's Environmental Justice Panel

Representatives from UVA’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation will serve as facilitators for the 15-member Environmental Justice Advisory Council, established by Virginia Govenor Terry McAuliffe in October. The mission of the council is to ensure that environmental policies around major issues like air quality or sea-level rise serve the interest of every Virginian, and that no area or group bears a disproportionate share of the burden.

Barnard College Affiliates With the Worker Rights Consortium

The college's president recently announced its decision to affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium. The affiliation will assist Barnard in implementing a manufacturing code of conduct with which apparel vendors contracting with Barnard will be asked to comply.

Six Universities Receive Energy Dept CHP Research Funding

North Carolina State University, Pace University, Pennsylvania State University-University Park, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Maine, Washington State University, Houston Advanced Research Center and the Center for Sustainable Energy will split a U.S. Department of Energy $25 million grant to further the installation of cost-effective, highly efficient combined heat and power (CHP) technologies. These institutions will, among other things, become regional CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships that will assist in the development of strategies to increase resilience to natural disasters and improve grid and electric delivery reliability.

Penn State U Offers Energy Storage & Microgrid Training

A new training program is part of the university's GridSTAR Center, a smart-grid education and research center at Penn State at The Navy Yard. The program is intended to help instructors prepare to teach electrical workers about safe and productive energy storage and microgrid construction. A unique element of the program is that the curriculum is based on lessons learned in the design and construction of multiple energy storage and microgrid systems at Penn State.

U Exeter Joins Circular Economy Network

(U.K.) The university recently joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as a Pioneer University, a program that seeks to accelerate the transition to a circular economy by engaging academics to research new business models to overcome environmental and economic challenges.

U Buffalo Coordinates 100 MW RE Community Initiative

A renewable energy initiative being spearheaded by the university aims to invest in the city’s urban core, while reducing energy costs for some Buffalo-area anchor institutions. Called Localizing Buffalo’s Renewable Energy Future, the plan calls for the creation of 100 megawatts of renewable energy, mostly in the form of solar power, by 2020. Other participating higher education institutions are SUNY Buffalo State and Erie Community College.

Catawba College Participates in US EPA Air Quality Flag Program

The college now participates in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Flag Program designed to help the community be aware of and respond to air quality conditions by flying one of five various colored EPA flags on a daily basis. The flag color is determined by the Air Quality Index (AQI) color that corresponds to the expected level of air pollution for that day.

American College Greece Begins Scholarship Program for Refugees

(Greece) Called Education Unites: From Camp to Campus, the goal of the new program is to give displaced students the opportunity to continue their education, provide them with knowledge, skills and academic credits they can use either in Greece or in any other European country they move to, and help them get out of the camps and become integrated in local colleges.

Second Nature & AASHE to Host Gathering at COP23

Second Nature and AASHE, along with the University of Connecticut and Tufts University, are hosting a reception and networking event at COP23, in Bonn, Germany, on Nov. 14 at the U.S. Climate Action Center. Along with networking, attendees will hear briefly from a select group of speakers about climate leadership programs within the higher education sector.

Messiah College Offsets Printing With Planting

The college is participating in PrintReleaf, which allows organizations to reduce their environmental impact by automatically planting trees to offset their paper consumption. Through the program, Messiah plants an average of six trees per month in Madagascar.

Campus Compact Announces Positive Engagement Grant Recipients

Campus Compact, a nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, recently announced 40 college and university recipients of grants from its Fund for Positive Engagement to bring people together across lines of difference.

Fort Lewis College Receives $355K to Further Food Security

The Environmental Center at Fort Lewis College, along with community partners, have been awarded a $355,000, three-year U.S. Department of Agriculture Local Food Promotion grant to launch a Durango Regional Food Recovery Hub. The initiative will address food insecurity, create secondary markets for farmers, and offer student learning opportunities.

U California Berkeley Partners to Improve Animal Welfare Through Purchasing

Cal Dining at the University of California Berkeley and Farm Forward recently announced the launch of the Leadership Circle, a program that leverages the buying power of institutions to change the way animals are raised for food. Members of the Leadership Circle commit to purchase only third-party certified, higher-welfare products in at least one product category within two years.

Southern Oregon U Launches Botanical Tour

The tour includes GPS coordinates for trees located across the university’s 175-acre campus, along with a printed tour brochure and a web-based tour. The tour serves to educate southern Oregon residents about the campus' biodiversity, inspire people to expand sustainability efforts and foster engagement with groups throughout the community.

St. Joseph College Maine Launches Local Food Institute With $4M in Funding

The Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation seeks to develop the state’s food and beverage industry and meet regional food security goals. The institute will encompass five enterprises: a food manufacturing incubator, a hydroponic farm, a traditional crop and livestock farm, an agri-tourism event center, and a complementary entrepreneurship development and education program offering certificates.

HEI Presidents Urge Congress to Pass Legislation Protecting Dreamers

Nearly 800 college and university presidents and chancellors signed onto the letter sent to U.S. Senate and House leaders, urging Congress to pass legislation as soon as possible to permanently protect Dreamers. Citing widespread public support, the letter argues that individuals covered under DACA have made valuable contributions to US economy and security and should continue to be able to do so.

Northern Arizona U Installs Tree Education Project

In an effort to educate the community about the value of urban trees, this time-limited installation included 23 "price tags" in Wheeler Park and NAU’s North Quad that describe the financial contributions of the trees as a result of their various ecosystem services and health benefits.

Five Colleges and Universities Receive 2017 Higher Education Civic Engagement Awards

Guilford College, Keene State College, Northern Arizona University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the State University of New York, College at Plattsburgh received the award from The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. The award celebrates institutions where the commitment to leadership extends into civic roles in the communities beyond their own campuses.

SUNY Receives $800K Grant to Develop Sustainable Village in Haiti

With a nearly $800,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 10 State University of New York campuses and five not-for-profit organizations will be working together to establish a sustainable village and learning community on 40 acres of land in Akayè, Haiti.

Pennsylvania State U Greater Allegheny Breaks Ground on Community Garden

In early September, a crew at the Greater Allegheny campus broke ground on a new community garden with the hopes of helping to combat food insecurity on campus and in the local neighborhoods.

Appalachian State U Installs Community Garden Space

A new garden space at the university brings together people from across campus and throughout the community to share knowledge about gardening, seed-saving, beekeeping and solar energy. Currently the gardening program has seven interns, who work to build, maintain, plan and educate.

Cornell U Launches Interactive Sustainability Campus & Community Map

The new interactive map features over 200 data points organized in topical map layers with sustainability features across campus, including green buildings, bottle water filling stations, bike share and car share locations, sustainability landscape sites, electric-vehicle charging stations, sustainability centers and institutes, and reuse centers. Through joint funding between the Campus Sustainability Office and the Office of Engagement Initiatives, the map was developed with living laboratory and engagement opportunities in mind.

U California Davis Pilots Energy Saving Technology to Keep Cows Cool

In an effort to demonstrate an effective alternative to cooling cows that consumes less energy and water, the university's new pilot program uses chilled water and air cooling. The project is part of a four-year, $1 million grant from the California Energy Commission to help improve water and energy efficiency in California’s dairy industry.

Cornell U Launches Free Online Climate Change Course

The new course on climate change science, communication, and action focuses on equipping learners with the tools they need to understand climate science and policy fundamentals, and how to take action to communicate and implement climate change related projects in their community and work.

McHenry County College Receives $500K to Develop Ag Degree

An anonymous donor recently gave the college $500,000 toward the first phase of an effort to promote sustainable urban agriculture education. The project will provide experiential learning related to intensive, organic food production, business management and marketing. During a two-year pilot program, the new funds will be used to research sustainable agricultural trends and practices, facilitate partnerships across the agricultural community, and promote the use of sustainable practices and food production in the region.

Four Virginia Schools Partner on 1.9MW of Solar Power

Lynchburg College, Randolph-Macon College, Virginia Union University, and Washington and Lee University have signed agreements with SolarCity for solar projects totaling 1.9 megawatts. The majority of the capacity, 1.3 megawatts, will be installed at Lynchburg College. The agreements are an extension of a collaboration between the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) and the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, which recently announced more than $807,000 for 16 CICV member colleges to implement solar power on their campuses.

Georgetown U Reaches Labor Rights Agreement With Nike

As part of a renewed contract, Georgetown now requires Nike, Inc to provide the Worker Rights Consortium, a labor rights group, access to supplier factories and ensure supply partners comply with new labor standards. The university's contract expired at the end of 2016 following concerns from students and members of the on-campus workers’ rights group Georgetown Solidarity Committee.

Indiana U Launches $300M Grand Challenges Program

The university's Grand Challenge program announced the new Prepared for Environmental Change initiative. The new multi-million dollar initiative seeks to gather an interdisciplinary team of researchers that will engage government, business, nonprofit and community leaders to implement actionable solutions to the impacts of environmental change.

Florida State U Alumni Donate Solar Array

The newly completed installation, comprised of 12 panels near the Seminole Organic Garden, was donated and installed by three alumni, each with roles in the sustainable energy sector.

Red Deer College Breaks Ground on Alternative Energy Lab

When completed in 2018, the lab will be utilized for teaching, demonstration and applied research related to alternative energy opportunities. The space will also engage and support regional businesses wanting to explore alternative energy production options. The new lab is one of three key components of RDC’s Alternative Energy Initiative, which promotes environmental stewardship through the application of sustainable and energy efficient technologies.

Northwest Missouri State U and SUNY Oswego Win Sustainability Awards from AASCU

Northwest Missouri State University and the State University of New York Oswego won the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' (AASCU) Sustainability and Sustainable Development Award. The program honors member institutions for excellence and innovation in sustainability. Northwest Missouri State was cited for its Comprehensive Sustainability System, which has produced $15.4 million in energy savings, and SUNY Oswego's BikeShare and BusShare projects were highlighted.

MIT Energy Initiative Announces $10.3M Collaboration

The $10.3 million, five-year collaboration with energy company Iberdrola aims to advance technologies and policies that will help transition to clean energy and fight climate change. The agreement includes $5 million in funding for a professorship at MIT dedicated to research and education in power systems engineering.

U Illinois Chicago Receives $450K to Help Chemistry Teachers Tackle Heavy Metals

UIC has received a nearly $450,000 National Science Foundation grant that will help high school chemistry students and teachers from seven Chicago public schools study and address urban heavy metal contamination in their communities. The project, called “The Poisoned Onion,” will support educators to teach chemistry within the context of heavy metal contamination in the soil and water of Chicago neighborhoods.

California State U Receives $250K for Clean Tech Workshops

The university received a $250,000 grant from the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator's new Energize California initiative that will fund clean technology innovation workshops and events at five Los Angeles-area CSU campuses over the next five years. The workshops are intended to help students learn about resources and programs that could help them bring new clean energy technologies to the market.

U Illinois Chicago Students Plant Urban Garden

Aiming to address issues of sustainability and food security in low-income Chicago communities, the new urban garden was developed and implemented by two undergraduate students in the university's Human Development and Learning program. During the spring 2017 semester, the two students acquired access to the plot of land and earned funding from the university to partner with a local sustainable garden-to-table organization.

Wilfrid Laurier U Receives $5K Grant for Planting Trees

Through a grant from Tree Canada, the university will be planting a small strand of mature trees on its Waterloo campus that will include national and provincial emblem trees, and symbolic First Nations trees. The tree-planting project commemorates the 150th anniversary of Canada.

U Nevada Reno Launches Online Marketplace for Campus Produce

Students and the surrounding community now have the opportunity to access fresh fruits and vegetables through a new virtual farm stand, offered through the university's Desert Farming Initiative. A collaboration between three key groups, the Desert Farming Initiative seeks to support Nevada agriculture through education, research and outreach.

Cornell U Ends Licensing Contract With Nike Over Labor Agreement

Cornell University has notified apparel-maker Nike and Branded Custom Sportswear, Nike’s exclusive licensee for collegiate apparel, that Cornell is ending its licensing relationship with them. Neither company is willing to sign a standard contract through IMG Collegiate Licensing, Cornell's licensing agent, attesting that they will follow a labor code of conduct vetted by Cornell and peer institutions.

UK Universities Partner With Rail Industry on New Research Center

The newly-created U.K. Railway Research and Innovation Network, a partnership of seven U.K. universities and the rail supply industry, secured 92 million pounds ($188 million) in funding to create three linked centers of research and innovation. The aim of the centers is to develop new technologies and products for trains, railway systems and infrastructure that will deliver a better, more reliable and efficient railway.

NC BOG Attempts to Ban Students From Practicing Litigation in Law School

The North Carolina Board of Governors has proposed a ban on litigation efforts by the UNC Center for Civil Rights at the law school of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which takes on legal cases of school desegregation, fair housing and environmental justice for poor and minority clients. Several board members want to prohibit the center from filing legal claims and lawsuits, saying it is inappropriate for the center to represent clients in court against other government entities. Some UNC and N.C. Central University law school leaders say barring the centers and clinics from engaging in legal action would effectively end those student training opportunities, potentially leading to questions from the American Bar Association.