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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.78
Liaison Margaret Lo
Submission Date Sept. 1, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

George Mason University
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Mary Liang
Sustainability Analyst
Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :
Yes

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Patriot Green Fund (PGF) launched in 2011 and administered by George Mason University's Office of Sustainability, provides dedicated funds annually to support students who conduct sustainability research. PGF annually offers $20,000 for student-driven sustainability research projects and $80,000 for student-driven, sustainability-related infrastructure improvement projects, many of which can be described as action research. The PGF also has quick funds available through out the semester. These quick funds allow students to apply for small grants to support experiential learning projects in that same semester.

The Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR) has provided faculty in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ESS) major with funds to incorporate sustainability research into the ESS curriculum so that all students in the major engage directly in sustainability research.


Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:
Yes

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

For Patriot Green Fund (PGF), any faculty or staff member may apply for funds to support a sustainability project. This encourages faculty to get involved in student-led projects, and help assist and monitor these sustainability projects. Students leading facility projects are strongly encouraged to locate a faculty or staff mentor. Many student projects funded by PGF have been supported by faculty on-site including air quality monitoring, methane biodigesting, and green roof research.

Additionally, George Mason University has the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC), which is a interdisciplinary collection of faculty at George Mason University. Expertise includes chemistry, ecology, geology, environmental science and education. PEREC faculty participates in a variety of research and community outreach programs. Beginning in the summer of 2017, the faculty offices and labs will be housed at the Potomac Science Center. This new facility encourages faculty to conduct research on restoration of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, suburban sustainability, global climate change, management of natural ecosystems, and community outreach and education.


Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Within Mason's Strategic Plan 2014-2024, Mason aims to do research of consequence that make it a university for the world. The plan calls to “strategically focus on multidisciplinary domains of great societal and economic consequence where we can make a difference.” In order to achieve this goal the university has listed initiatives it will put in place: invest in research in areas of great societal, economic, and global consequences, create at least five multidisciplinary institutes, and translate discoveries from our research to society. Mason has invested in multiple research centers on and off campus where researchers take a transdisciplinary approach to understand the geophysical, biological, economic, and social implications of climate change and other global issues. An example of a research center taking this multidisciplinary approach is Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication (4C), which develops and applies social science insights to help society make informed decisions that will stabilize the earth’s life-sustaining climate, and prevent further harm from climate change.

Mason's Provost also provides annual seed grants to fund cutting-edge multidisciplinary research that cuts across multiple academic units. This past year Mason’s Center for Energy Policy received the seed grant for multidisciplinary research aimed at informing the Commonwealth of Virginia's energy policy by developing an energy optimization tool.


Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Mason's library provides a resource librarian for Integrative Studies and the Environmental Science and Policy department, which jointly offers the Environmental and Sustainability Studies BA. This librarian has created an online infoguide to support sustainability research carried out by students in this major. This website assists students in finding articles, books, and databases for action research involving sustainability.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.