Sustainability evolves at the intersection between society and the environment. Much of scientific research is aligned along this same interface, so a more refined attention to sustainability illuminates our thinking about how we engage in research. We start toward this Target simply by understanding these parallels through a comprehensive sustainability research inventory.

We will also vigorously expand our work beyond the walls of academia, making our campuses and surrounding communities living laboratories that provide rich collaborations and shared positive outcomes.

Target actions for 2021

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:

  • EN 9

    Professional Staff Development & Training

  • EN 13

    Community Service


In this first year, we will dedicate efforts to identifying the impact of academic research to our communities, faculty and our campuses. It will begin with development of a catalogue to identify living lab sustainability-oriented research projects and opportunities across the UW. Focused resourcing, funding and attention to nurture some of these seminal projects, with lessons learned and outcomes then broadly disseminated to support others down that path. Besides increasing transparency and coordination among UW researchers, this will serve a second purpose, as the baseline count of sustainability-oriented research projects; this is the count that will be doubled by 2025 according to the target. The catalogue will help to understand the University’s research activities and help develop faculty incentives that would align with this target. As an R1 public institution, we will also work on engagement with the academy to ensure there is broad level support to engage our research faculty.

Steps we will take in FY 2021

  1. Highlight existing platforms, tools, and funding resources that support interdisciplinary research projects across UW.

  2. Coordinate faculty focus groups to identify opportunities and barriers for increasing sustainability-related research.

  3. Using the shared sustainability framework as a reference, build on existing UW systems and processes to coordinate centralized reporting that collects information across campuses and assess the degree to which sustainability (following a holistic and shared definition) is incorporated in existing research projects and funding initiatives.

Responsible party

UW Sustainability, Population Health Initiative, EarthLab, Faculty

Statuses and linkages

This is intricately tied to Target II. These could be overseen by the positions suggested for the UW-Wide Sustainability Definition Task Force and coordination with existing efforts at Population Health, EarthLab, Urban@UW, ChangE, and UW Tacoma and UW Bothell centers.

Financing

No additional financing needed in FY 2021.

Metrics

The first year will develop a process for gathering input assessment of how we are engaging across our campuses. Quantitative and qualitative data will assess the following:

  • Representation of faculty from Seattle, Bothell, Tacoma campuses.

  • Representation of diversity, co-curricular groups and RSOs.

  • Assessments of the outputs and progress the diverse groups were able to realize.

This action enables additional actions that may affect STARS credit AC-9 Research & Scholarship where UW shows a point gap of 3.97.


Transform UW’s campuses into living laboratories for sustainability research by integrating academic, and research areas of interest with operational targets and sustainability actions thereby providing opportunities for all UW members to collaborate on innovative strategies to address some of the most urgent challenges at different scales. This action entails expanding our work beyond the walls of academia, across local, regional and global scales; viewing our campuses and the surrounding communities as living laboratories that provide rich opportunities for action-oriented research, community-engaged scholarship, service learning, and inter-community collaborations to address the complexities of sustainability challenges in a responsive and equitable way. Through this action, UW will deliver more sustainable communities, students fluent in climate justice, sustainability, and resiliency.

action timeline

Steps we will take in FY 2021

  1. Identify and promote opportunities in which UW researchers and students can create and participate in projects that engage UW Facilities and central administration units to transform the campuses and reduce the operations environmental footprint.

  2. Promote existing tools, trainings, and internal funding to promote culturally responsible forms of research and engagement and appropriate interactions with non-UW members.

  3. Seek opportunities for meaningful forms of engagement and research with local, regional, and global communities to address environmental challenges.

Responsible party

UW Sustainability, Population Health Initiative, Campus Sustainability Fund, EarthLab

Statuses and linkages

This is intricately tied to Target II. These could be overseen by the positions suggested for the UW-Wide Sustainability Definition Task Force and coordination with existing efforts at Population Health, EarthLab, Urban@UW, ChangE, and UW Tacoma and UW Bothell centers.

Financing

Additional financing needed in FY 2021.

Possible sources:

  • Use revolving funds from any savings in operations linked to the decarbonization program.
  • Create a special endowment or fund coming from donations.
  • Identify and strengthen existing sources of funding for research (EarthLab’s Innovation Grants, Population Health Initiative pilot research grants, Campus Sustainability Fund).
  • Work with UW Advancement for identifying donor funding.

Metrics

The first year will develop a process for gathering input from across our campuses and piloting collaboration projects between academic research and campus operations. Quantitative and qualitative data will assess the following:

  • Representation of faculty and staff from Seattle, Bothell, Tacoma campuses.

  • Representation of diverse co-curricular groups and RSOs from Seattle, Bothell, Tacoma campuses.

  • Qualitative impact of pilot project(s) with campus operations for faculty research.

UW has already earned the maximum points available in the relevant STARS credits AC-8 Campus as a Living Laboratory and EN-10 Community Partnerships. This Action can gain points in STARS credits AC-9 Research & Scholarship where UW shows a point gap of 3.97 and EN-13 Community Service where UW shows a point gap of 3.77.