|Submission Date||May 14, 2014|
Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
The most active and ongoing engagement program the university sponsors is the Eco-Reps, who help with events such as Earth Hour, Recyclemania, Eco-Challenge and Earth Month throughout the year, just to name a few. Eco-Reps are a part of the student-run Campaign GW, an ongoing forum for students to directly share their ideas with the administration and participate in the decision-making process on future GW campus development issues, including sustainability.
During RecycleMania, Eco-Reps host an annual waste-sort event where they spend an afternoon sorting through waste to highlight how our community can improve recycling and waste reduction efforts.
GW Eco-Reps are the driving force behind Eco-Challenge, hosting small and large events in their residence halls and across campus designed to educate their peers about water and electricity reduction. During Eco-Challenge, Eco-Reps participate in several trainings where they learned how to perform energy audits of buildings. Many of them share what they learned with their residence halls.
Eco-Reps, a part of CampaignGW (which exists for students to have a say in campus development), regularly staff tables at events and host trainings to help inform their peers about the importance of sustainability and updates regarding the university’s sustainable advances. They provide sustainability updates through a newsletter, which is distributed to a listserv of more than 10,000 members of the GW community (primarily current students).
Student peer educators volunteer to serve as Eco-Reps.
Eco-Reps receive many types of training throughout the year. Through monthly meetings students learn about sustainability initiatives on campus, share best practices with each other, and discuss outreach events.
The Eco-Rep program is coordinated by two full-time staff members who help to recruit students, facilitate their activities and provide education and training. Financial support is provided for use in outreach events and trainings.
Planet Forward engages young people and innovators in search of solutions to the biggest sustainability challenges facing our planet. Through media, teaching and convening Planet Forward empowers new voices and elevates compelling ideas. For example, in 2013, The Feeding the Planet Summit gathered students from all over the country to join the debate on the key agricultural and food security issues that face our growing world. In addition to student questions and videos that were part of the summit, students participated directly in a town hall and contributed their thoughts on the summit in blogs and videos. In the 2013-14 school year, more than 75 Planet Forward videos were produced by students, an estimated 25,000 students voted in the Climate Leadership Awards video contest that included student-produced video entries from universities nationwide, and 350,000 unique visitors came to the Planet Forward website.
Materials for Planet Forward are sourced from many GW student educators. Sustainability 1001 students and sustainability minors are regularly encouraged to create short videos of their research, internship or campus activities. Another source is the 200 students who are enrolled in the World on a Plate course. The final project for this class requires students to produce educational videos about sustainable food policy and outcomes.
Graduate assistants for Planet Forward are in the School of Media and Public Affairs and receive full scholarships and stipends for their work. They are selected on a competitive basis. Planet Forward works in consortium with numerous universities and as part of the collaboration, staff skype with students in classrooms across the country, providing instruction and feedback on storytelling techniques. Students self-select when it comes to submission of videos and uploading content on Planet Forward.
Student educators are provided a general tool kit that helps them understand the art of storytelling, its importance in agenda setting and advocacy, and best practices in media arts. Embedded in the delivery of storytelling techniques is the notion of social justice and work is carried out through the prism of innovation and with the objective of elevating solution-based dialogue and ideas.
Planet Forward was created and is led by Frank Sesno, Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs and former DC Bureau Chief for CNN. Planet Forward has one additional fulltime staff member, and 3 graduate research assistants.
The Sustainable Student Leaders (SSL) program is designed to connect student leaders from a variety of green organizations at GW. Through the SSL listserv, student leaders send and receive emails to one another about upcoming sustainability-related events and volunteer opportunities. In addition, monthly meetings are held to provide another opportunity to receive updates on sustainability initiatives on campus. The primary purpose of the SSL meetings is to allow the student leaders to get to know one another and to join forces on upcoming projects that have similar themes and objectives. The meetings also serve as a platform for group discussions and a means to address any questions or concerns.
Sustainable Student Leaders are selected based on the role they play in their green organization. Those who are on the executive board or play a very active part in their organization are encouraged to be a part of the program. The Office of Sustainability reaches out to new sustainable student organizations to encourage their participation in the group.
Sustainable Student Leaders are provided with materials they request to better educate themselves and their peers about topics that are of their organizations’ interest. They are also given brief informational presentations on topics such as GW’s ecosystem enhancement strategies and proper recycling practices. There are 3-4 meetings per semester, and at each meeting an interactive presentation is given, with information for students to disseminate through their respective groups.
A staff member from the Office of Sustainability maintains the listserv and sends out frequent updates about upcoming sustainability-related events. This staff member also leads the monthly SSL meetings and facilitates peer-to-peer discussions. Per student leaders’ request, the Office of Sustainability staff publicizes green organizations’ events and aids in providing student leaders with the resources they need to successfully carry out their events. Materials and other minor costs associated with this group are contributed by the Office of Sustainability.
Internships are a great way for students to gain exposure to sustainability on campus and to build their resume experience in the field. The Office of Sustainability has had interns working in the office since it opened in 2009, bringing in about 20 students who have worked in a variety of capacities:
• Undergraduate interns have played key roles in event planning and research of sustainability issues and best practices;
• Graduate interns have assisted with student engagement activities, such as Eco-Rep coordination and managing our faculty/staff engagement efforts - the Green Office Network;
• Summer interns have researched the feasibility of a green campus fund, designed and launched sustainable procurement policies for GW, and created a sustainable water use video to enhance student engagement on the issue;
• Interns have contributed significantly to the research, content, and development of GW’s Climate Action Plan, GWater Plan, and Ecosystems Enhancement Strategy– the three components of GW’s strategic plan for sustainability practice;
• The student garden manager position helps manage and coordinate the work in on-campus garden;
• Interns in conjunction with Eco-Reps take leadership roles in coordinating Green Move-Out providing assistance;
• Interns assist with meter-reading and recycling efforts throughout the year.
Students apply to serve as interns with a formal cover letter and resume responding to explicit and extensive job descriptions. They are then interviewed by staff and selected through a competitive process.
Students receive training on the job during their internships. Internships generally begin with an overview of GW's sustainability initiatives and programs helping to provide students with the context for their work. They are involved in staff meetings to learn the context of working within a complex organization, and are provided ample opportunity to interview administrators and faculty, peer institutions, and organizations with expertise in the area of their internship. Interns are also trained in project management and reporting as they interface with their supervisors (e.g. weekly reports, project timelines, project scope, draft deliverables, etc.).
Student interns are paid for their work, and full-time staff manage them throughout the year.
This database requires that the number of students involved in peer-to-peer outreach and education must not exceed the number of students enrolled at GW. Planet Forward is a GW-led effort that engages students across many colleges and universities in sustainability dialogues both here and abroad.
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.
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.