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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 68.58
Liaison Mary Ellen Mallia
Submission Date Jan. 15, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University at Albany
AC-1: Academic Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 9.41 / 14.00 Mary Ellen Mallia
Director of Environmental Sustainability
Finance and Business

Criteria

Part 1

Institution offers sustainability courses and/or courses that include sustainability and makes an inventory of those courses publicly available.

Part 2

Institution’s academic departments (or the equivalent) offer sustainability courses and/or courses that include sustainability.

In order to report and earn points for this credit, the institution must conduct a course inventory. The inventory should consist of two parts:

1) An inventory of sustainability courses that includes, at minimum, the title, department (or equivalent), and level of each course (i.e. undergraduate or graduate), as well as a brief description if the sustainability focus of the course is not apparent from its title

2) An inventory of other courses that include sustainability. The inventory includes, at minimum, the title, department (or the equivalent), and level of each course and a description of how sustainability is integrated into each course.

A course may be a sustainability course or it may include sustainability; no course should be identified as both:

• A sustainability course is a course in which the primary and explicit focus is on sustainability and/or on understanding or solving one or more major sustainability challenge (e.g. the course contributes toward achieving principles outlined in the Earth Charter).

• A course that includes sustainability is primarily focused on a topic other than sustainability, but incorporates a unit or module on sustainability or a sustainability challenge, includes one or more sustainability-focused activities, or integrates sustainability issues throughout the course.

For guidance on conducting a course inventory and distinguishing between sustainability courses and courses that include sustainability, see Standards and Terms and the Credit Example in the STARS Technical Manual. An institution that has developed a more refined approach to course classification may use that approach as long as it is consistent with the definitions and guidance provided.

Each institution is free to choose a methodology to identify sustainability courses that is most appropriate given its unique circumstances. Asking faculty and departments to self-identify sustainability courses and courses that include sustainability using the definitions outlined in Standards and Terms or looking at the stated learning outcomes and course objectives associated with each course may provide a richer view of sustainability course offerings than simply reviewing course descriptions, but it is not required.

This credit does not include continuing education and extension courses, which are covered by EN 11: Continuing Education.


Applicability

This credit applies to all institutions.


Scoring

Each part is scored independently.

Part 1

Institutions earn the maximum of 8 points for Part 1 of this credit if 20 percent or more of all courses offered by the institution are sustainability courses and/or courses that include sustainability. Incremental points are awarded based on the percentage of course offerings that are sustainability courses and/or courses that include sustainability. For example, an institution where 4 percent of all courses offered are sustainability courses and 6 percent are courses that include sustainability would earn 4 points (half of the points available for Part 1 of this credit).

Part 2

Institutions earn the maximum of 6 points for Part 2 of this credit when 90 percent or more of academic departments or their equivalent offer at least one sustainability course or course that includes sustainability. Incremental points are available based on the percentage of academic departments that offer courses with sustainability content. For example, if 45 percent of the departments at an institution offered one or more sustainability courses, that institution would earn 3 points (half of the points available for Part 2 of this credit).


Measurement

Timeframe

Report the most recent results and methodology available.

Institutions may choose to inventory and report course offerings from one, two, or three academic years, as long as both the total number of courses offered and the number of sustainability course offerings are measured during the same period. 

Sampling and Data Standards

To streamline the data gathering process, institutions may choose whether or not to count each time a course is offered as a separate course, as long as sustainability course offerings are counted in the same way as total course offerings. For example, a course that is held twice (or if there are two sections) in the fall term and once in the spring term may be counted as 3 courses or 1 course, as long as the institution’s course counting methodology is consistent. An institution that elects not to count each time a course is offered as a separate course should verify that 50 percent or more of the sections or offerings of a course include sustainability to count the course as inclusive of sustainability.

Likewise, institutions may choose whether or not to count courses listed in multiple departments or academic divisions as separate courses. For example, a course that is cross-listed in two departments or that is listed as both an undergraduate and a graduate course may be counted as one or two courses, as long as the institution’s methodology is consistent.

Individually-directed courses (e.g. thesis, independent study, practicum), courses of 4 or fewer students and/or special topics courses may be excluded as feasible, as long as they are excluded from both the count of courses with sustainability content and the count of total courses.

Courses should be verified as having been taught during the specified timeframe (e.g. as opposed to being listed in a course catalog, but not taught).

Courses offered by outside entities (e.g. courses offered by other colleges that are part of a consortium with the institution or courses offered through study abroad programs that are not administered by the institution) should not be counted in the reporting institution’s course inventory. However, courses developed and offered jointly by multiple institutions that are listed in the reporting institution’s course catalog may be counted. In such circumstances, courses should be counted consistently. This means that if sustainability courses offered jointly by the participating institution and another entity are included in the inventory, jointly offered courses without sustainability content should be included as well.

Institutions that do not have academic departments or equivalent administrative divisions should report fields of study, programs, subject areas or the equivalent.

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.