A clear, common definition of sustainability is necessary for effective communication and coordination around learning and action across campus. This Target invokes a campus-wide definition and standardized reporting of existing sustainability courses. To successfully facilitate this goal and others, an Academic Sustainability Manager will be hired.

The 2022 Action Plan will also lay foundations for the development of a UW-wide sustainability course or other general requirement, and begin work toward a common, minimum sustainability learning outcome by 2025.

Target actions for 2022

View actions for past fiscal years

Sustainability plan guiding principles

  •  Ensure students achieve sustainability literacy
  •  Choose our research conscientiously
  •  Keep equity and inclusion at the center
  •  Use resources responsibly
  •  Decarbonize

AASHE STARS categories:

  • AC 1

    Academic Courses

  • AC 2

    Learning Outcomes


In FY 2021 we sought input from faculty, staff and students at all three UW campuses to create a definition of sustainability that would be used as a tool for engagement, a tool for deepening our individual understanding, a tool for developing common understanding, a tool for measuring progress toward sustainability goals and a tool for identifying research and coursework that is “sustainability-related.” The definition and information about the process we used to develop it can be found here.

Steps we will take in FY 2022

  1. We will present the final definition to the UW Environmental Stewardship Committee, seek endorsement from the Faculty Senate, the Board of Deans and Chancellors, the Provost and the Board of Regents and determine where to formally post the definition.
  2. We will work with the Target I workgroup to generate engagement with the definition (e.g. release a challenge to all courses to explore what would need to change in order to live up to the definition, provide the definition to the heads/deans of departments/schools across all campuses and ask them to share and bring back any feedback.)
  3. We will work with other target workgroups to explicitly align their work with the definition. (Timeframe of Fall quarter 2021)
  4. We will create a position description for a .50 or 1.0 FTE Sustainability Academic Coordinator manager position to help in the advancement and implementation of academic and research goals contained in this plan. In this process, we will explore whether this person should serve all three campuses or whether we should have separate positions at each campus. (Timeframe of December 2021)

Responsible party

UW Sustainability, Population Health Initiative, EarthLab, Urban@UW, Faculty

Statuses and linkages

Financing

  • Funds for the Sustainability Academic Coordinator position (.5 or 1.0 FTE) are needed.

Metrics

  • Getting the definition approved and posted by fall.
  • Having conversations with the action owners about the implications for the definition for their action (by end of autumn quarter).
  • Have a plan for broader engagement with the definition by the end of autumn quarter.

Catalogue and identify all existing sustainability-oriented courses through the design of a standardized reporting system that incorporates a shared sustainability framework.

Steps we will take in FY 2022

  1. Using the shared sustainability framework as a reference, build a centralized reporting platform to collect information across campuses and assess the degree to which sustainability is incorporated in existing courses. Developing and implementing common metrics for tracking progress towards the attainment of this goal set forth in this plan are essential to realizing the goals of tri-campus coordination and accountability.
  2. To ensure the proper entry of data, design a set of instructions on how to use the reporting system that will be displayed online.
  3. Create communication material that will be offered to administrators, personnel in charge of academic affairs and students in each College and School across the UW. It may also be available to students.

Responsible party

UW Sustainability, Population Health Initiative, EarthLab, Urban@UW, Faculty

Statuses and linkages

This will be overseen by the UW Sustainability Project Manager who coordinates STARS reporting in partnership with Population Health and cataloging of academic research. Tied to Target I – Inventory and Expand Community Engagement.

Financing

  • No additional financing needed in FY 2022.

Metrics

  • Number of new courses added, measured against 2021 STARS academic course data.
  • Yes/No completion of inventory

Initiate a consultative process to identify core sustainability skills and competencies for all UW students as an initial step to develop a university-wide set of learning outcomes that can incorporated in existing and new courses, regardless the discipline or concentration, in order to address a full range of ecological, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability. This target could open the space to considering a university-wide sustainability credit in the future.

Steps we will take in FY 2022

  1. Identify inclusive sustainability academic objectives that can be incorporated in existing and new courses.
  2. Benchmark from ASU and other universities that have undertaken similar efforts to integrate sustainability core competencies in curriculum.
  3. Facilitate professional development opportunities for faculty and other instructors to foster the creation of innovative and interdisciplinary pedagogical strategies around inclusive sustainability.
  4. Create a digital space where instructors can find tools and resources to better incorporate inclusive sustainability academic objectives in their courses.

Responsible party

UW Sustainability, Population Health Initiative, EarthLab, Urban@UW, Faculty

Statuses and linkages

This is tied to the UW-Wide Sustainability Definition.

Financing

  • No additional financing needed in FY 2022.

Metrics

  • We will develop baseline data to determine where inclusive sustainability objectives can be incorporated and how those objectives will impact course outcomes.

Determine the feasibility for a student-facing Sustainability Hub on the Seattle Campus; including the need, use cases, potential location, funding and staffing. The goal is to develop a tricampus model for ongoing student sustainability engagement and research through the UW-wide Sustainability Framework, using the Campus as a Living Lab for implementation of the Sustainability Plan. The feasibility study will be managed by UW Sustainability in collaboration with the Campus Sustainability Fund, and potential funding partnerships with the Population Health Initiative, EarthLab, the College of the Environment, the College of Built Environments, ASUW, GPSS and Student Services.

Steps we will take in FY 2022

  1. Establish a project team to be sponsored by UW Sustainability that includes the Sustainability Action Plan Project Coordinator, CSF Program Manager, UW Sustainability DEI Coordinator and students from ASUW, GPSS, Student Life, and RSOs and the University Environmental Stewardship Committee.
  2. Work with campus stakeholders to determine the scope, opportunities, and barriers through interviews, research into existing UW Centers/Initiatives and case studies of other universities. Review and present to ASUW, GPSS, Student Life and administrative stakeholders.
  3. Publish a report which details the need for the Student Sustainability Hub, use cases, potential locations, funding model, and partnerships with other departments or programs.

Responsible party

Campus Sustainability Fund

Statuses and linkages

This Action is closely linked with other UW Sustainability Plan Actions: One UW Wide Sustainability Framework by 2022; Double Student, Staff and Faculty Sustainability Impressions by 2024; Double Sustainability Research Projects by 2025. These could be coordinated with the Sustainability Academic Coordinator position suggested in Target II - Finalize and publish the university-wide definition of sustainability.

Financing

  • For FY21, UW Sustainability hired a .50 FTE graduate student Project Coordinator dedicated to the implementation of the Sustainability Action Plan and the steps associated with this and other actions of the plan. The funding for this position should be maintained.

For FY22, UW Sustainability and the Campus Sustainability Fund hired a .50 FTE graduate student Program Operations and DEI Coordinator position. This position will be supporting the work of this action by facilitating inclusive and diverse outreach and student engagement.

Future financing for implementation and staffing of the Student Sustainability Hub could come from multiple sources including a resource pooling of departments/units such as Campus Sustainability Fund, Student Life, Provost Office (for academics), Population Health Initiative, Earthlab, and student government bodies GPSS and ASUW. A student fee could also be a potential funding option.

Metrics

The second year of this action will focus on gathering data associated with the feasibility of establishing a Student Sustainability Hub, and we will therefore achieve the following:

  • Cataloging student-centered services from all campuses that are related to sustainability.
  • Perform an analysis of the potential impacts and outcomes of a Sustainability Hub.
  • Benchmark with peer institutions and perform a gap analysis.