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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 67.88
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Sept. 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Pennsylvania State University
AC-9: Research and Scholarship

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 11.24 / 12.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff that are engaged in research (headcount):
2,298

Number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff that are engaged in sustainability research (headcount):
388

Percentage of the institution's faculty and staff researchers that are engaged in sustainability research :
16.88

Total number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that include at least one faculty or staff member that conducts research:
84

Number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that include at least one faculty or staff member that conducts sustainability research:
55

Percentage of research-producing departments that are engaged in sustainability research:
65.48

A copy of the institution’s inventory of its sustainability research that includes names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:
The institution’s inventory of its sustainability research that includes names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:

List attached.


A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the research inventory (including the types of faculty and staff included as researchers):

The research inventory and list of faculty was compiled in several steps:
(1) A list was obtained of all externally-funded research projects and associated faculty investigators from July 2014 through Jan 2017 (~2.5 years). Sustainability-related projects were identified by searching through project titles and, in many cases, the project abstracts. In some cases faculty/ project websites were also consulted. A tentative list of faculty who conduct sustainability-related research was distilled from the resulting project list. This list of faculty was then screened to retain only those with the academic rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, senior scientist, senior research associate, or research associate - all PhD-level ranks (or equivalent terminal degree). These are the same academic ranks included in the count of total faculty researchers.

(2) The resulting list of faculty was cross-checked with that developed for our previous STARS submission. For faculty who were not on the current project list, but who did appear in our last STARS report, we checked to determine (a) if they were current Penn State employees and, if so, (b) if their websites indicated a sustained interest in conducting sustainability-related research. If so, we included them.

(3) The titles of corporate-sponsored sustainability projects are omitted from the project list, due to the possibility of confidentiality clauses in some of the contracts. However faculty investigators on these projects are included in the faculty list.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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For consistency with our previous STARS submissions and our existing faculty expertise database, we used the definition of sustainability research created for our STARS report submitted under version 1.2:

"Sustainability research aims to understand, develop or assess strategies for sustaining the earth's resources to meet society's current and future needs, and to preserve the integrity of the Earth’s systems.
- Strategies may include technologies, policies, methodologies, or interventions.
- Assessments may consider the environmental, social, ethical, health, and economic consequences of the strategies.
- Resources include clean water, clean air, natural and managed ecosystems, energy, and materials. These elements are interrelated and thus a holistic view is often required.

Total number of faculty engaged in research includes 2016 headcount of faculty with academic rank of professor, associate professor, or assistant professor; and research faculty with rank of senior scientist, senior research associate, or research associate (generally, all PhD level designations). Lecturers and Research Assistants were NOT included in the count.
Likewise, the list and count of faculty engaged in sustainability research includes only faculty at those same academic and research ranks.

The count of academic departments that include at least one faculty member who conducts sustainability research includes only those departments on our list of total departments at Penn State. Some Penn State research faculty are affiliated with a research institute only and do not have an affiliation with an academic department.
For example this includes the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, the Energy Institute, the Larson Transportation Institute, the Institutes of Energy and the Environment, and the Sustainability Institute.

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.