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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 Silver
Overall Score 51.71
Liaison Jeffrey Severin
Submission Date July 17, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Kansas
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.75 / 2.00 Kim Criner
Education & Outreach Coordinator
Center for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have one or more co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that fall into the following categories?:
Yes or No
Active student groups focused on sustainability Yes
Gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems Yes
Student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes No
Sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills Yes
Conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles No
Sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences Yes
Programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills No
Sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution Yes
Graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions No
Other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives ---

The name and a brief description of each student group focused on sustainability:

There are over 30 student organizations at KU that contribute to building a more sustainable campus and community. These range from very broad, environmental groups to issue-specific organizations. Environs is the longest standing of these and focuses on a range of environmental and social issues. Founded in 1985, Environs is a KU student-lead environmental advocacy group that promotes environmental awareness and encourages sound environmental practices on campus, in Lawrence and regionally. Environs is composed of committees that work on projects each semester to foster educational creative outreach, environmental preservation, local foods, and resource conservation. The entire database of sustainability-related organizations is provided below.


The website URL where information about student groups is available:
A brief description of gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems:

Coordinated by the Center for Community Outreach EARTH program (http://www.cco.ku.edu/team/earth/), students work together in the campus garden to grow organic produce to donate to Just Food, a local food pantry. The garden is a working educational environment where volunteers learn organic gardening concepts and plant care techniques as they plant, weed, water, compost, hoe and harvest.

The KU Student Farm (https://www.facebook.com/KUStudentFarm) began with a research projects in the Environmental Studies Capstone course. Shortly after that research report was completed, a small group of students began the farm in fall of 2010 on land adjacent to the medicinal plant garden north of Lawrence. There are now 23 plots with vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Participants study various growing methods including companion plantings and small-scale permaculture techniques.


The website URL where information about the organic agriculture and/or sustainable food systems projects and initiatives is available:
A brief description of student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes:
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The website URL where information about the student-run enterprise(s) is available:
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A brief description of the sustainable investment or finance initiatives:

The Campus Environmental Improvement Fee supports student initiated projects. It is allocated by the Student Environmental Advisory Board, a Student Senate committee, through an application process. Students submit applications for project funds, which include an evaluation of environmental and economic impacts of the project (e.g. projected savings and payback periods). The Renewable Energy and Sustainability component of this fee was $1.00 per student per semester, raised to $1.50 during this reporting period. The accepted purpose of the fee is based on the following rules:
1. Funds are to be primarily used for capitol improvements that reduce campus dependency on non-renewable energy sources. Funds will most efficiently spent on new construction, but retrofits may be considered as well.
2. Funds may also be used for educational initiatives or materials that reduce campus dependency on non-renewable energy sources and encourage sustainability.
3. Funds may be used to cover fees associated with gaining LEED certification for campus buildings.

Students were also instrumental in establishing the Revolving Green Loan Fund. This fund has an allotment of $40,000 to invest in (1) capital improvements that reduce the University’s dependence on non-renewable energy sources; (2) sustainable design, construction and landscaping; (3) transportation improvements; and (4) projects to educate the campus community about change that will make the campus more sustainable.


The website URL where information about the sustainable investment or finance initiatives is available:
A brief description of conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

In conjunction with KU Environs and other student organizations, the Center for Sustainability co-hosts a variety of activities including a collaborative annual Earth Month celebration in April that include speakers, films, volunteer activities and more. CFS also hosts a Campus Sustainability Week event in October, that recognizes the efforts of students, faculty, and staff on campus. Other events partnerships include: Hunger Awareness Month, a partnership with KU Fights Huner that includes speakers, films and panels; Bike Month, a partnership with Bike KU, which includes event and activities for campus bikers; Into the Streets Week, in partnership with CCO that includes speakers and volunteer events.


The website URL where information about the event(s) is available:
A brief description of cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

During the Fall 2013 semester the Lied Center of Kansas hosted "red, black & GREEN: a blues" and "Fables on Global Warming: Armitage Gone! Dance." "red, black & GREEN: a blues" was an interactive work that utilized poetry, storytelling, music, and dance as a means of discussing issues of race, culture, and the environment. The performers involved with "red, black & GREEN: a blues" also offered a workshop for students interested in sustainability.

"Fables on Global Warming" was a dance performance that used animal fables from all over the world to highlight the environment through the connected nature of humans and animals.

Both events offered highly discounted ticket prices to KU Students in order to encourage their attendance.


The website URL where information about the cultural arts event(s) is available:
A brief description of wilderness or outdoors programs for students that follow Leave No Trace principles:
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The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors program(s) is available:
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A brief description of sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

KU offers learning communities for first-year students through the Office of First Year Experience. Learning communities provide a shared educational experience for students who are enrolled in two classes linked around a common, engaging, culturally relevant theme. During the fall semester of 2013 first year students had the opportunity to participate in a "Global Change and a Sustainable Future" learning community.


The website URL where information about the theme is available:
A brief description of program(s) through which students can learn sustainable life skills:
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The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills program(s) is available:
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A brief description of sustainability-focused student employment opportunities:

KU offers a number of sustainability-focused student employment opportunities:
1. The KU Center for Sustainability offers a couple internships each semester open to any undergraduate or graduate student with interests in sustainability at the University and in their future career.
2. KU employee several student team leaders and student recycling technicians coordinate and participate in hundreds of weekly recycling pickups throughout the campus. Other student technicians help sort materials and operate balers in the recycling warehouse.


The website URL where information about the student employment opportuntities is available:
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A brief description of graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions:
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The website URL where information about the graduation pledge program is available:
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A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:
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The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available:
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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.