MIT Launches Climate Change & Global Poverty Initiative

With a founding $25 million gift from King Philanthropies, MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is launching the King Climate Action Initiative (K-CAI). The new initiative will study programs reducing the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations, and then work with policymakers to scale up the most successful interventions. K-CAI intends to help improve the lives of at least 25 million people over the next decade. Its first funded projects will be selected by the end of 2020.

U Wisconsin Stout Begins Using Enviro-Friendly Weed Control Technology

The new technology uses 200-degree water and a biodegradable foaming agent comprised of a blend of coconut and palm kernel oils, rapeseed oil, glucose, polysaccharides derived from the natural fermentation of glucose, and glutamic acid derived from sugar beets. The Stout Student Association Sustainability Council paid for a portion of the cost of the machine.

U Queensland Completes 64 MW Solar Farm

(Australia) The 64-megawatt, single-axis tracking solar farm now enables the university to receive 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy.

La Trobe U Connects 2.5 MW Solar Project

(Australia) As part of its Net Zero plan, a project to install 7,500 solar panels across 25 university buildings was recently completed.

U Kentucky Park Earns LEED Certification

Kentucky Proud Park, the home of University of Kentucky baseball, achieved LEED certification for reducing potable water use by 30 percent, diverting 76 percent of on-site generated construction waste from landfills, implementing energy saving measures and using recycled materials in building materials.

California State U to Launch Social Justice Requirement

Going into effect for the 2023-24 academic year across all 23 campuses, the newly approved, one-course ethnic studies and social justice requirement will be grounded in the traditional Ethnic Studies discipline, comprised of African American, Asian American, Latinx and Native American studies.

Three HEIs Sign Onto Sports for Climate Action Framework

The Ohio State University, Wake Forest University and the University of Miami recently signed onto the U.N.'s Sports for Climate Action Framework joining the University of Colorado Boulder. Signatories of the framework commit to five core principles in environmental responsibility, climate impact, education, consumption, and advocating and communication. Globally over 120 athletics programs have signed onto the framework.

U Hull Enters Carbon Neutrality Partnership

(U.K.) The university recently announced a partnership with Siemens that will create a detailed strategic master plan for carbon neutrality by 2027. Siemens has been commissioned by the university to undertake an evaluation of its energy consumption, focused on reducing emissions and finding new, renewable ways to power the campus. The elements of the plan will include reduction of current energy consumption, energy production using renewable energy, and conversion of the university's campus into a living lab that enables researchers and students to trial new technologies.

U California Berkeley Students Win the Student Corporate Engagement Competition

A panel of judges recently selected a team from the University of California, Berkeley as the inaugural winners of the SIILK Corporate Engagement Competition. They were recognized for preparing strong investment recommendations and shareholder engagement strategy to improve company performance (and investment returns) through better environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. Hosted by the Intentional Endowments Network, the Student Corporate Engagement Competition invites student teams to write and present an investment recommendation for a publicly-traded company listed on any major exchange, and include in the investment recommendation a proposed shareholder engagement strategy that aims to improve company financial and sustainability performance.

Leeward CC Becomes Net-Zero Campus

In addition to reducing consumption through various energy efficiency measures, the campus is now generating 97 percent of its energy through on-site photovoltaic systems, including solar shade canopies and distributed energy storage.

Cornell U Announces Racial Justice Initiatives

In a recent address to the campus body, the university's president asked the Faculty Senate to, as soon as possible, create and implement an educational requirement on racism, bias and equity for all students; create an anti-racism center; and launch an institution-wide themed semester focused on issues of racism in the U.S. through relevant readings and discussions. Additional announced changes include oversight of the university's police department; the creation new professional development programs with a focus on staff of color; make diversity, equity and inclusion part of the performance dialogue process; implement equity and cultural competency trainings for all staff; and make Juneteenth a permanent university holiday.

NACUFS Announces Sustainability Award Winners

National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) recently announced the 2020 gold, silver and bronze winners in five operational categories–procurement practices, energy and water conservation, waste management, materials and resources, and outreach and education. The annual NACUFS Sustainability Awards recognize member institutions that have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the promotion and implementation of environmental sustainability, specifically as it relates to campus dining operations.

Arizona State U Building Earns 'Excellence in Sustainability Award'

The university's Biodesign Institute C, a new, multi-functional research facility designed specifically to promote and enable the creation of cutting-edge research clusters, won Lab Manager’s Excellence in Sustainability prize, given as part of the Lab Design Excellence Awards. The Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building at the Metropolitan State University of Denver received honorable mention for sustainability.

15 Winners Receive $1.6M to Support Student Parents

Imaginable Futures and Lumina Foundation recently announced 15 winners of the Rise Prize, which awarded $1.55 million in combined prizes to innovative ideas for supporting the postsecondary success of student parents by addressing the systemic barriers they face.

Three Massachusetts HEIs Receive Funding for Net-Zero Carbon Emissions Study

The Massachusetts governor's office recently allocated three awards, totaling $300,000, to Salem State University, and to University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) and Lowell (UML). The grant funding is for feasibility studies that will help these three Massachusetts state universities achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Fairmont State U Obtains $27K Grant for Waste Solutions

The university’s Creative Sustainability Council (CSC), a campus organization focused on sustainability initiatives for the university and community, has been awarded a grant of $27,120 from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation to implement two sustainability initiatives on campus this summer. The first initiative, a glass recycling program, will introduce a glass crusher to campus. The second initiative will introduce a composting program on campus.

Indiana U Accepts 2020 'Excellence in Sustainability Award'

The university received the NACUBO 2020 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its Indiana Sustainability Development Program, which aims to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for sustainability jobs within the state. NACUBO's Excellence in Sustainability Award recognizes institutions for a specific campus innovation, process or program that advances environmental sustainability in higher education or progress toward a more environmentally sustainable future.

U Vermont Divests From Fossil Fuels

The university's board of trustees voted unanimously in mid-July to immediately end new direct investment in fossil fuels, to fully divest from public investments in fossil fuels by July 2023 and to allow pre-existing multi-year private investments, which it stopped acquiring in 2017, to lapse without renewal. It will also accelerate an engagement campaign with managers of its commingled funds, asking that they factor the financial risks of climate change into their investment decision-making process and share their framework for doing so with the university.

U Pittsburgh Creates Justice Initiative

Anchored in the university's School of Education, the PittEd Justice Collective is a three-year working group that will engage in anti-racist, justice-directed initiatives within the education community as well as the surrounding community. Year one is focused on definitions and clarifying the scope of work and will also include a school-wide book read focused on anti-racism, along with lunch and learns, professional development opportunities and a virtual series on justice.

U Minnesota Morris Achieves Electricity Carbon Neutrality

Roughly 70 percent of the campus' electricity is generated by renewable energy–two university-owned, 1.65-megawatt wind turbines and several photovoltaic systems. To achieve carbon neutrality, the campus recently purchased renewable energy credits equal to the fossil-fuel produced electricity the campus uses.

LeMoyne-Owen College Receives $40 Million

The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis recently announced the college as the recipient of a $40 million endowment. The college will receive 5 percent of the average balance of the fund each year. With nearly 90 percent of students qualifying for financial aid, much of the money will be put toward scholarships as well as academic innovations that prepare students for the job market.

U Notre Dame Announces Anti-Racist Initiative

The university's Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights has announced a year-long initiative called Building an Anti-Racist Vocabulary. The project seeks to educate students and members of the broader Notre Dame community, helping them explore and deconstruct concepts that support racism.

HKUST Reduces Waste With Digital Diploma/Transcript System

In an effort to reduce paper waste and thwart academic forgery, the university recently launched the Blockcerts platform, a user-friendly blockchain-based degree authentication system for documents such as graduation diplomas and academic transcripts. Saving time for graduates and staff, the system now allows graduates to receive cryptographically signed and tamper-proof electronic versions of their graduation diploma certificates. Starting in November, the university will begin providing electronic transcripts.

Shaw U Launches 'Center for Racial and Social Justice'

The purpose of the new Center for Racial and Social Justice is to enable meaningful social change by fostering engagement around civil and human rights, spiritual formation, discernment and social justice. Featuring research activities and academic programs that celebrate the university’s heritage of racial and social justice advocacy, the center will introduce a series of certificate programs that promote activism, strategic thinking and leadership development to confront the nation and world’s great challenges related to racial and ethnic differences.

EAUC Announces 2020 International Green Gown Award Recipients

The small and large institution winners in the Benefitting Society category are, respectively, Ayrshire College (U.K.) and St. Ignatius of Loyola University (Peru). The small and large institution winners in the Student Engagement category are, respectively, Facens University (Brazil) and University of Strathclyde (U.K.). The small and large institutional winners for the Sustainability Institution of the Year award goes to the International Islamic University Malaysia and St. Ignatius of Loyola University (Peru) respectively. The International Green Gown Awards celebrate the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world and are endorsed by United Nations Environment Program.

Villanova U Professor Receives Environmental Health Award

Health Care Without Harm and the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments recently announced Dr. Ruth McDermott-Levy as the 2020 Charlotte Brody Award recipient. Dr. McDermott-Levy is an associate professor and director at the Center for Global and Public Health at Villanova University. The Charlotte Brody Award is an annual award given to a nurse who promotes and protects environmental health. Dr. McDermott-Levy was recognized for environmental advocacy and climate change leadership.

Four Institutions Achieve STARS Platinum

Arizona State University, Cornell University, Université de Sherbrooke and University of Connecticut recently obtained Platinum ratings under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). These institutions join five other STARS Platinum institutions: Colorado State University, Stanford University, Thompson Rivers University, University of California, Irvine, and University of New Hampshire. The STARS assessment framework encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions, as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps toward sustainability.

Pennsylvania State U Plants Wildflowers on Solar Farm

In early June, National Pollinators Month, 32 million seeds were planted around and under 10 acres of solar panels. The wildflower varieties are highly attractive to pollinators such as native bees, honey bees and butterflies, playing a vital role in supporting food and flowering plants.

U Pittsburgh Signs Solar PPA for Electricity

Through a new, 20-year solar power purchase agreement, the university will purchase all of the renewable electricity produced by a planned 20-megawatt solar power facility. It will cover approximately 13 percent of the Pittsburgh campus’ annual electricity usage.

California State U East Bay Adopts Air Travel Offset Policy

A flat $9 offset fee per trip will soon be charged to the department of any person traveling on university business when funded by the university or related affiliates. The funds collected will be deposited into the university’s Climate Action Plan Fund and used for projects at university-owned sites that provide greenhouse gas reductions.

Queen Mary U Invests in Energy Efficiency Measures

(U.K.) The university will be installing energy monitoring, enabling remote accessibility and live energy reporting, and LED lighting systems. The changes are expected to cut energy use by 25 percent at its Whitechapel campus.

Williams College Invests in Local Carbon Reduction Projects

Through a partnership with the environmental nonprofit Center for EcoTechnology, the college is investing in the Community Climate Fund, a portfolio of projects that yields a measurable carbon reduction, significant social and financial benefits in the local community, and curricular and research opportunities for students and faculty. The initial $100,000 investment is being used toward building materials recovery, a solar wall for a local childcare center, and energy-efficient heating system upgrades for low-income homes.

U College Cork Rolls Out E-Bike Trial

(Ireland) Following a successful pilot in 2019, the university has launched an initiative to provide staff with electric bikes for a trial period to determine if electric bikes are a desired method to commute to and from campus.

George Washington U Commits to Fossil Fuel Divestment

The university board of trustees pledged in late June to not make any new investments in businesses that derive the majority of their revenue from the extraction of fossil fuels and agreed to eliminate 100 percent of all such investments from its endowment over the next five years. The board also committed to working with investment managers to encourage investment in companies with environmentally sustainable business practices.

Instituto de Empresa U Announces Sustainability Strategy & Investment

(Spain) The university's new sustainability strategy, the "10 Year Challenge", will focus on specific annual projects from 2020 through 2030 and includes an $11 million (10 million euros) investment. The university's objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030. Additionally, the university aims to eliminate bottled water by 2021; and by the end of 2020, reduce paper consumption by 100 percent, reduce single-use packaging by 50 percent, increase recycling by 50 percent, increase purchased renewable energy to 70 percent; and increase sustainable transportation use by 50 percent.

Santa Monica College Establishes George Floyd Scholarship

The college announced on June 19 a new endowment in honor of George Floyd, called the George Perry Floyd, Jr. Scholarship for Racial and Social Justice. The scholarship was started with a $20,000 gift to the Santa Monica College Foundation from anonymous donors. The scholarship will offer a $2,500 award over two years to black students to help offset the cost of tuition, books and living expenses while attending the college.

Houghton College Adds Environmental Studies Degree Program

Beginning in fall 2020, students will be able to enroll in the college's new environmental studies major and minor degree program. The program aims to investigate environmental issues from a social science perspective.

15 Canadian HEIs Sign Investment Charter

A group of 15 Canadian higher education institutions in mid-June signed onto a charter pledging each school to follow responsible investment practices. The charter calls on all signatories to adopt a responsible investment framework to guide investment decision-making, regularly measure the carbon intensity of investment portfolios, evaluate their progress regularly, and share assessments publicly.

Northern Illinois U Athletic Dept Enacts Social Justice Ed Plan

Geared toward student-athletes, coaches and staff, the social justice education plan seeks to create educational opportunities, support dialogue and encourage voting. The plan has already brought together African American student-athletes, a focus group of student-athlete leaders and an all-staff virtual town hall of NIU Athletics coaches and staff on the topics of social justice and race relations. Future sessions include a virtual meeting of all student-athletes led by NIU professors and individual team counseling sessions on the topic of race relations.

Winona State U Installs Electric Charging Stations

The university recently installed two new electric car charging stations. The stations are ready for use and open to students, faculty, staff and the public. The charging stations are free to use for WSU students. Faculty and staff receive a reduced fee of $0.10 per kilowatt-hour. Public users are charged a one-dollar flat rate connection fee as well as $0.10 per kilowatt-hour.

12 HEIs Recognized Among Canada's Greenest Employers

Now in its 13th year, Canada's Greenest Employers is an editorial competition organized by the Canada's Top 100 Employers project. Employers were evaluated in terms of: the unique environmental initiatives and programs they have developed; the extent to which they have been successful in reducing the organization's environmental footprint; the degree to which their employees are involved in these programs and whether they contribute any unique skills; and the extent to which these initiatives have become linked to the employer's public identity.

Loyola U Chicago Adds Environmental Communication Minor

The minor will be available to Loyola students in fall 2020 and will comprise a variety of courses offered by the Institute for Environmental Sustainability and the School of Communication. The 18-credit-hour minor will provide students with a background in environmental science and policy, and training in how to communicate environmental issues.

'Student Freedom Initiative' Addresses Loan Burden

Robert F. Smith—the billionaire who pledged during a commencement speech last year to pay off the student debt of the Morehouse College class of 2019—recently announced the Student Freedom Initiative to help ease the burden of student loans at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Student Freedom Initiative will launch in fall 2021 at up to 11 HBCUs, offering juniors and seniors who are science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors a flexible, lower-risk alternative to high-interest private student loans.

U Pittsburgh Becomes Bee Campus USA Certified

Earning the certification through the nonprofit Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the university has committed to educating the community on pollinator conservation and to supporting pollinators by establishing native-plant habitats, providing nesting sites and reducing pesticide use. Efforts already underway include the student-led Bee Friendly Pitt project that placed seven bee houses around campus to shelter solitary bees; the existence of four student-designed pollinator gardens; and the university’s practice of prioritizing native varieties of perennials, shrubs and trees in campus plantings.

NCAA Expands Confederate Flag Policy

The NCAA Board of Governors has expanded the association’s Confederate flag policy to prevent any NCAA championship events from being played in states where the symbol has a prominent presence. Mississippi is the only state currently affected by the association’s policy.

Morehouse & Spelman Colleges & UNCF Receive $120M

Philanthropists Patty Quillin and her husband, Reed Hastings, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Netflix, are donating $120 million to Morehouse College, Spelman College and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Each will receive $40 million. The money will be used to fund scholarships so that students graduate with less debt and more opportunity.

U California Signs Open Access Agreement

The university recently announced an open access publishing deal with Springer Nature in an effort to get research into the hands of scholars and the public helping solve the world’s most pressing problems. Under the four-year agreement, all UC research published in more than 2,700 of Springer Nature’s journals will be open access. In addition, the deal commits Springer Nature and UC to launching an open science pilot project in 2021.

Harvard U Graduate Students Reach Union Agreement

Bargaining teams for the university and its graduate student union reached a tentative one-year contract recently, which they will unanimously recommend to union members for ratification. If ratified, the contract would be the first in university history to provide more than 4,000 student workers at Harvard with workplace protections. Among other things, the new contract includes pay increases for graduate student workers, childcare subsidies, new procedures to address discrimination and harassment, and the provision of personal protective equipment.

U Nevada Reno Announces Actions to Address Racism

In an effort to respond to the anger and frustration expressed by its Black students, faculty and staff, the university recently announced measures aimed at supporting a more inclusive, safe and equitable campus. They are: review its African Diaspora Program, recognize prominent Black social justice pioneers on campus, explore test score alternatives, establish a living learning community focused on Black culture, and expand cultural competency education across campus.

Connecticut College Adopts GHG Emissions Reduction Target

The college recently adopted a new goal to achieve a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To reach the new goal, the college will undertake a multi-phased process beginning with a Utility Master Plan that will lay out a long-term strategy for transforming energy production and use on campus. This will be followed by a Climate Action Plan, laying out specific projects and a timeline to meet or exceed the goal. Both plans are to be executed in the coming year.