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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 67.81
Liaison Kelly Wellman
Submission Date Dec. 6, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Texas A&M University
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Ben Kalscheur
Sustainability Assistant Manager
Office of 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 Institute for Sustainable Communities (IfSC) conducts research in 5 areas:

The Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience Initiative of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to provide solutions to today’s most pressing coastal issues through holistic research that explores the interconnections of the natural, built, and socio-political environments and engages communities to enhance local resilience.This initiative builds upon the work of the Texas Center for Beaches and Shores, driven by an interdisciplinary team of faculty, professional staff, and students with backgrounds in urban planning, geography, economics, ocean engineering, coastal ecology, marine biology, marine sciences, environmental science, coastal planning, and political science. The shared focus of this team is coastal hazard reduction and resilience with specific emphasis on coastal flooding. Coastal flooding driven by heavy precipitation, storm surge, and sea level rise is the most costly, disruptive, and life-threatening hazard worldwide. Therefore, it is imperative to research solutions to reduce flood risk and mitigate the negative impacts of storm events. The team dedicated to this initiative are tackling the issue of flooding by studying the association of hazard events, risk reduction, and public policy with the interaction of urban development, anthropogenic impacts, local economies, and community knowledge and culture. The findings of this research promote innovative approaches, both structural and non-structural, to mitigate coastal flooding. This work has been supported by numerous funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the Texas Sea Grant.

The Community Infrastructure area within the IfSC focuses on creating innovative ways for addressing infrastructure problems in local communities. Housed within the College of Engineering, our work is interdisciplinary in nature and spans across multiple infrastructure systems (e.g., water, stormwater, transportation, buildings). These systems are essential for the wellbeing of local communities.

The Water Security Initiative (WSI) seeks to provide data-driven, analytically sound assessments of water security based on consideration of the coupled natural-human systems. We develop and use effective metrics, models, and analytics of the coupled systems to improve society’s long-term water challenges. The Water Initiative targets key threats to water security, including poverty, climate change, governance and social marginalization, and we seek to understand the complex dynamics of coupled social and environmental systems impacted by challenges, such as decreasing supplies of potable water, in the coming years.

The Water Security initiative seeks to establish a robust, cross-regional comparative context in which to develop key analytics and standardized assessments to benchmark current water security situations at multiple scales. We also seek to develop water insecurity models and evaluate progress and performance of policy, program, and technical interventions and evaluate how these impact the natural and human systems. Critical to the goals of the initiative is to create a research and teaching community to support individual research water security interests and foster teams that can also address the coupled human and natural processes related to questions of water security for present and future sustainable needs based on a fundamental understanding of the hydrological cycle and their environmental impacts.

The Community Resilience (CoRe) Program of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to generate and apply research on the impact of natural hazards to socially and physically vulnerable populations and neighborhoods and utilize said research to develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to disasters, with an emphasis on community engagement and participatory processes.

The program seeks to extend the mission of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center (HRRC) by exploring new and transformative directions to create and disseminate research findings to communities and practitioners to better mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. It is comprised of faculty, professionals, staff and students with backgrounds in urban planning, landscape architecture, landscape ecology, urban hydrology and low impact development. Our work is strongly focused on issues related to land use change and urban development patterns, ecosystem services, water resource conservation, stormwater flooding and storm surge, green infrastructure and climate change and has been supported by many funders, including the Department of Homeland Security, the National Science Foundation and Texas SeaGrant.

The Health and Environment Program of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to link applied public health research and community engagement to the improved measurement of environmental variables to better understand interactions between individual level health outcomes and the built environment, health systems, and community level factors.

The Health and Environment Program is comprised of faculty, professional staff, and students with backgrounds in toxicology, epidemiology, public health, medicine, and food science. Our work is strongly focused on issues related to disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery and is supported by many funders, including the Department of Homeland Security, the National Academies of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

More information about IfSC can be found here: http://ifsc.tamu.edu/

TOP grants are funded by the university to promote multidisciplinary learning experiences for Texas A&M students on a large scale. Each grant must reach at least 100 undergraduate or 50 graduate students per year. With total funding of approximately $1M per year, these are 3 year grants awarded to intercollegiate multidisciplinary groups to engage students in research based learning.

In 2015, three grants were approved to advance sustainability
- Aggie B.L.U.E.print Laboratories: Building Lasting University Environments
- A Vision Re-Imagined for the Soltis Center
- Strengthening Democracy Through Critically Engaged Citizenship

In 2016, two grants were approved to advance sustainability
- Global Media Analysis Research Clusters (GMARC) Project
- Famine to Feast: Engaging Texas Food Banks

In 2017, two grants were approved to advance sustainability
- Bridging the Humanities and Hard Sciences: Transformational Learning & Retention of
Latino/a and First Generation Students via a Global Borderlands Classroom
- Circular Economy Design, Engineering, and Fabrication Project

Students are encouraged to participate in ARISE. The program builds on the proposed projects that will lead to not only scientific discovery and new technology but also pedagogical innovation for training students to become the new interdisciplinary researchers in renewable energy. This will be accomplished through developments of new interdisciplinary curricula that not only train students broadly in the science and engineering required by interdisciplinary developments, but also teach them how these challenges will impact industry, global markets, and the ever developing energy needs of other countries.


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:

The Institute for Sustainable Communities (IfSC) conducts research in 5 areas:

The Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience Initiative of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to provide solutions to today’s most pressing coastal issues through holistic research that explores the interconnections of the natural, built, and socio-political environments and engages communities to enhance local resilience.This initiative builds upon the work of the Texas Center for Beaches and Shores, driven by an interdisciplinary team of faculty, professional staff, and students with backgrounds in urban planning, geography, economics, ocean engineering, coastal ecology, marine biology, marine sciences, environmental science, coastal planning, and political science. The shared focus of this team is coastal hazard reduction and resilience with specific emphasis on coastal flooding. Coastal flooding driven by heavy precipitation, storm surge, and sea level rise is the most costly, disruptive, and life-threatening hazard worldwide. Therefore, it is imperative to research solutions to reduce flood risk and mitigate the negative impacts of storm events. The team dedicated to this initiative are tackling the issue of flooding by studying the association of hazard events, risk reduction, and public policy with the interaction of urban development, anthropogenic impacts, local economies, and community knowledge and culture. The findings of this research promote innovative approaches, both structural and non-structural, to mitigate coastal flooding. This work has been supported by numerous funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the Texas Sea Grant.

The Community Infrastructure area within the IfSC focuses on creating innovative ways for addressing infrastructure problems in local communities. Housed within the College of Engineering, our work is interdisciplinary in nature and spans across multiple infrastructure systems (e.g., water, stormwater, transportation, buildings). These systems are essential for the wellbeing of local communities.

The Water Security Initiative (WSI) seeks to provide data-driven, analytically sound assessments of water security based on consideration of the coupled natural-human systems. We develop and use effective metrics, models, and analytics of the coupled systems to improve society’s long-term water challenges. The Water Initiative targets key threats to water security, including poverty, climate change, governance and social marginalization, and we seek to understand the complex dynamics of coupled social and environmental systems impacted by challenges, such as decreasing supplies of potable water, in the coming years.

The Water Security initiative seeks to establish a robust, cross-regional comparative context in which to develop key analytics and standardized assessments to benchmark current water security situations at multiple scales. We also seek to develop water insecurity models and evaluate progress and performance of policy, program, and technical interventions and evaluate how these impact the natural and human systems. Critical to the goals of the initiative is to create a research and teaching community to support individual research water security interests and foster teams that can also address the coupled human and natural processes related to questions of water security for present and future sustainable needs based on a fundamental understanding of the hydrological cycle and their environmental impacts.

The Community Resilience (CoRe) Program of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to generate and apply research on the impact of natural hazards to socially and physically vulnerable populations and neighborhoods and utilize said research to develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to disasters, with an emphasis on community engagement and participatory processes.

The program seeks to extend the mission of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center (HRRC) by exploring new and transformative directions to create and disseminate research findings to communities and practitioners to better mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. It is comprised of faculty, professionals, staff and students with backgrounds in urban planning, landscape architecture, landscape ecology, urban hydrology and low impact development. Our work is strongly focused on issues related to land use change and urban development patterns, ecosystem services, water resource conservation, stormwater flooding and storm surge, green infrastructure and climate change and has been supported by many funders, including the Department of Homeland Security, the National Science Foundation and Texas SeaGrant.

The Health and Environment Program of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to link applied public health research and community engagement to the improved measurement of environmental variables to better understand interactions between individual level health outcomes and the built environment, health systems, and community level factors.

The Health and Environment Program is comprised of faculty, professional staff, and students with backgrounds in toxicology, epidemiology, public health, medicine, and food science. Our work is strongly focused on issues related to disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery and is supported by many funders, including the Department of Homeland Security, the National Academies of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

More information about IfSC can be found here: http://ifsc.tamu.edu/

ARISE - The increasing consumption of petroleum deposits and the escalating air pollution problems caused by burning fossil fuels have driven the global research community to look for clean and renewable energy sources. Hydrogen, biofuel, and solar energy are among the most environmentally benign alternative energy sources. To build upon our strengths and to take the existing renewable energy programs on campus to the next level of international competitiveness, the Advanced Research Initiative for Substainable Energy (ARISE) was chosen as one of the eight Initial University Multidisciplinary Research Initiatives (IUMRIs).

Texas is traditionally an energy state and Texas A&M University has been known as an energy institute as evidenced by our world class Petroleum Engineering and Nuclear Engineering programs. The energy emphasis is also reflected in the existing renewable energy programs in the University. The Advanced Research Initiative for Substainable Energy (ARISE) will build upon our strengths and take these existing renewable energy programs to the next level of international competitiveness. ARISE plans to connect the fields of technology development, academic research, commercialization, and the policy landscape in the renewable energy field. It will not only facilitate the collaboration among multidisciplinary researchers within the University, but will also help to attract funds from federal, state, and private funding agencies.


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:

1. Faculty members should be recognized and rewarded for research, teaching, and service/engagement that contribute at the university or college levels in strategic multidisciplinary areas (which include activities in recognized interdisciplinary programs). Such contributions are as valued as disciplinary contributions, which we are
accustomed to recognizing and rewarding. The procedures should not require that all faculty engage in multidisciplinary activities, but should recognize that such engagements may be in all three primary categories (teaching, creating new knowledge, or service/engagement).


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:

The Texas A&M University Libraries (Libraries) provides a large inventory of resources and services to support the University's sustainability research and learning.

This includes:

INFORMATION RESOURCES
The Libraries has and continually updates a diverse and deep collection of information resources that address sustainability. These sustainability resources cover many fields of study including the STEM disciplines, public policy, international affairs, business, marketing, career opportunities, economics and humanities subjects such as ecocriticism and history.

By format, the Libraries sustainability holdings include the following dedicated resources (note these specialized resources are in addition to general materials that also provide valuable information and data):
• 16+ Databases
• 130+ Print and Online Serials and Journals
• 35,000+ Monographic titles
• An institutional repository that provides open access to grey literature, research publications, electronic theses & dissertations, and data sets on sustainability

ONLINE SUBJECT & COURSE SUPPORT
• 79 Subject Guides on Sustainability and Conservation
• 41 Sustainability and Conservation Class Guides

SUBJECT EXPERTISE
34 Subject Specialists that research and support studies in sustainability as well as
scholarly communications support to comply with federal mandates on open access to federally funded research and data management.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
---

http://dof.tamu.edu/content/tier-1-program-top-grant-proposals

http://t3.tamu.edu/ - This is a new interdisciplinary research initiative recently rolled out. We expect to have some results of sustainable research in the years to come.

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.