Log In

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 68.76
Liaison Kimberly Williams
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

George Washington University
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Lisa Benton-Short
Director of the Sustainability Academic Program
Department of Geography
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a program to encourage student sustainability research that meets the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of the institution’s program(s) to encourage student research in sustainability:

The GW Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships: This office seeks to enhance independent student research or student research with faculty. GW undergraduate students have a number of opportunities to apply for research funding, including the GW Undergraduate Research Award, the Luther Rice Undergraduate Fellowship, and the Sigelman Undergraduate Research Enhancement Award. The Center also offers advising and resources to students seeking to develop funding proposals and report on their work. Many projects funded through this office focus on sustainability. For example, one Luther Rice fellow developed the project “Sustainability of Indigenous Arctic Ice Cellar (Sig-uaq) Practices: A Case Study of the Inupiaq People of Barrow, Alaska” which examined the loss of permafrost due to climate change and the influence of this on food storage for the Inupiaq. Another Luther Rice fellow studying biology developed a project titled “Feeding Ecology of Shelter-Building Caterpillars” and examined their role in forest ecosystems. http://undergraduate.research.gwu.edu/

Eco-equity Challenge: In 2014, the Office of Sustainability and the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service established a new grant opportunity - the Eco-equity Challenge - to enable GW students to address environmental and social justice issues in order to fulfill the needs of communities in the Washington, D.C. region. The grant comes as part of the ongoing collaboration between GW and the Siemens Corporation, and is part of their joint commitment to environmental and social sustainability. The submission deadline is March, 2015 and at that time, we will know how many proposals are research-oriented. The Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service provides students multiple opportunities to engage in community-participatory research. http://serve.gwu.edu/eco-equity-challenge

Culminating Experience for the Minor: As part of the sustainability minor, students participate in a “culminating experience” and are encouraged to engage in sustainability research under the mentorship of a GW faculty member. We encourage this with a dedicated class: Sustainability 3096 “Directed Research in Sustainability.” Two recent examples of student research: study of caterpillar adaptation to changes in leaf cover due to variations in climate change; study of the economic evaluation of ecosystem services. In the spring of 2015, the Executive Director of Sustainability will lead a directed research class on evaluating soil sequestration from organic crop production. A nice video highlighting research in a Culminating Experience is found on this page: http://sustainability.gwu.edu/sustainability-minor

Car 2Go Sustainability Grants: Beginning in Fall 2015, the Academic Program in Sustainability will award two $1,000 scholarships to sustainability minors engaged in research or community service. This scholarship comes from a donation by Car-2-go.

PAF Program: The GW Presidential Administrative Fellowship (PAF) is available to help support sustainability research within the GW Sustainability Collaborative. The Executive Director for Sustainability has sponsored a PAF starting 2014. The program requires a two-year commitment, during which each fellow receives tuition and fees toward the completion of a master’s degree, a housing allowance, and departmental compensation. The PAF assists the Executive Director in benchmarking and research, as well as coordinating student opportunities for sustainability research and service among students. http://president.gwu.edu/presidential-administrative-fellowship

Research Day: Each spring, the Office of the Vice President for Research sponsors a two-day "Research Day". Faculty and graduate students in the School of Public Health are featured on the second day. On the second day, undergraduates and graduates from the other GW schools present their research in a day-long illustrated poster session. Winners are chosen from each school at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Many students who participate are engaged in sustainability research. In 2014, for example, 6 sustainability minors presented posters. Sustainability minor Jesse Schaeffer won the research prize for the Elliot School of International Affairs for his research on food sustainability among Syrian refugee populations in Jordan. http://undergraduate.research.gwu.edu/undergraduate-researchers-present-gw-research-day-1

The Commitment Maker Challenge: GW students are invited to compete for funding to support their Clinton Global Initiative University Commitments to Action. Awards are available to supplement travel to the annual Clinton Global Initiative University gathering in Miami, Florida, on March 6-8, 2015, and also to directly fund their CGI U Commitments to Action, which are new, specific, and measurable social entrepreneurial projects. The theme of the 2014-15 challenge is "the courage to be second," a theme emphasized at the 2014 CGI U gathering. To illustrate, this student team took a tested, known solution to provide natural lighting to homes and worked with a community to give more families access to light. In this vein, GWupstart has teamed up with D-Prize to offer a $5,000 award to a student team to pilot a plan to distribute a known solution to a poverty issue in a specific developing world community. The Challenge’s theme is meant to spark GW students’ imaginations, and students are equally encouraged to submit ideas outside this theme, for example, by proposing a DC- or US-focused project.

Planet Forward Explorer Fellows: As part of the School of Media and Public Affairs, Planet Forward supports small groups of students to travel to other countries to find and tell stories about sustainability. Guatemala is a country with a nutritional crisis among infants during their first 1,000 days of life. Planet Forward sent a group of student explorers to see how communication technology and community partnerships are being used to get critical nutrition info out to a multi-ethnic, multi-language society. See more at: http://www.planetforward.org/content/explorers-in-guatemala#sthash.N2rygSiS.dpuf. Also, Planet Forward Explorer Fellows traveled through Kenya and Tanzania looking for important stories and interesting people working in the food and agriculture space to get a firsthand view of what it's going to take to feed the planet. See more at: http://www.planetforward.org/content/explorers-in-africa#sthash.5gHR43Dv.dpuf

Knapp Fellowship for Entrepreneurial Service-Learning: This annual award recognizes one or more innovative proposals each year and distributes $10,000 to winning proposals from undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must demonstrate knowledge and innovative thinking about the issue or problem to be addressed. Once chosen, fellows work throughout the project with a faculty advisor who guides research on the issue, implementation of the proposal, ongoing reports and assessments, and a final work of scholarship. http://serve.gwu.edu/knapp-fellowship-entrepreneurial-service-learning

The GW Business Plan Competition: This annual competition distributes $130,000 and is considered to be one of the top 10 business plan competitions in the U.S. The competition provides GW students, faculty, and alumni with a real world educational experience in developing, testing, and launching their own startups. . The competition fosters entrepreneurship at GW through workshops, mentoring, non-dilutive cash grants, in-kind prizes, networking opportunities, publicity, and concept validation. Beginning in 2014, two prizes are reserved for social entrepreneurship, one for the best for-profit idea and one for the best non-profit idea. http://bizplan.gwu.edu/ Here is a great video on a winner of the social entrepreneurship award in 2014: https://gwupstart.wordpress.com/opportunities/commitment-maker-challenge/grid/

The website URL where information about the student research program is available:
Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty sustainability research that meets the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of the institution’s program(s) to encourage faculty research in sustainability:

GW holds bi-weekly sustainability integration meetings, which include the participation of other centers and institutes on campus, including the Office of Sustainability, the Sustainability Collaborative, the GW Solar Institute, Food Institute, Planet Forward, and the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, among others. This meeting is an opportunity to convene on current and future ways to collaborate with regards to research and other activities.

The Sustainability Faculty Committee was established in 2010 and meets quarterly. It is the academic and research advisory committee, made up of faculty who engage in teaching and/or research related to sustainability. The committee designed the Sustainability Minor and provides input on developing ways to expand sustainability research at GW.

GW Faculty in Sustainability find support for external grants through the Office of the Vice President for Research. Working collaboratively with principal investigators and their department staff, the Sponsored Projects Administration team ensures successful submission of proposals and compliance throughout the life of the project. The Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) serves as a central resource to support the research community at GW by providing guidance and stewardship for researchers and administrators. SPA is responsible for the effective and timely handling of research proposals, as well as the preparation, interpretation, negotiation, and execution of agreements on behalf of GW for projects funded by federal and state agencies, foundations, and other public and private sources. They also draft, negotiate, and execute awards and subawards for collaborative research.
In addition to the Sponsored Projects Administration’s on-going efforts, the OVPR has selected several collaborative research areas as institutional initiatives. The university is developing a more robust research portfolio in these areas: autism, computational biology, cybersecurity, the global status of women, sustainability and urban food studies

The George Washington Institute of Public Policy twice annually awards the Shapiro Policy Research Scholar. This competition is open to all GW tenure-track, tenured, and full-time contract faculty. The Shapiro Policy Program promotes and encourages proposals that focus on research topics directly relevant to Sustainability Policy.


The website URL where information about the faculty research program is available:
Has the institution formally adopted policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description or the text of the institution’s policy regarding interdisciplinary research:

The GW Strategic Plan, released in 2013, embraces innovation through cross-disciplinary collaboration. As a major theme of the strategic plan, cross-disciplinary research and teaching is strongly supported. The strategic plan states: "The university's commitment to cross-disciplinarity recognizes the importance of rigorous grounding in specific disciplines and the value of a broad liberal arts undergraduate education. Cross-disciplinarity builds on this foundation to foster new and exciting intellectual endeavors."
Sustainability is the most prominent research area within GW that is both interdisciplinary and pan-university. Furthermore, the GW Executive Director of Sustainability reports directly to the Provost, where she is well-positioned to advocate for tenure for scholars pursuing interdisciplinary sustainability research.

The website URL where information about the treatment of interdisciplinary research is available:
Does the institution provide ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning that meets the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of the institution's library support for sustainability research and learning:

David Hills, Physical Sciences and Engineering Collection Librarian in the GW Gelman Library, is also the Sustainability Liaison. A Research Guide has been created for Sustainability, which provides information and links to resources useful for students and faculty working in areas related to sustainability. A special library fund of $1,000 per year supports resource acquisition in sustainability. Hills is working with Dr. Lisa Benton-Short, the Director of the Sustainability Academic Program, to explore additional ways that the Library can be especially helpful to the growing number of students in the Sustainability Minor.

The website URL where information about the institution's library support for sustainability is available:

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.