What are AASHE and STARS?
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is a coalition comprised of over 900 higher education institutions, businesses, and other organizations; it exists to support higher education faculty, administrators, staff and students as they “lead the global sustainability transformation.” AASHE aims to contribute to a more equitable and ecologically healthy world through the avenue of higher education. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is one of AASHE’s most impactful programs for empowering institutions of higher education to be global leaders of sustainability.
STARS is a “transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.” STARS provides their ratings, feedback, and other resources for all types of colleges and universities, from community colleges to research universities. The STARS framework helps institutions self-evaluate by providing performance indicators and criteria organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. After the evaluation takes place, an institution may be awarded either a STARS Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum rating. Each year, since 2015, AASHE publishes the Sustainable Campus Index (SCI), which highlights the top institutions, as measured by STARS.
OSU in the 2018 Sustainable Campus Index
OSU earned a GOLD STARS rating in the 2018 SCI!!
OSU’s Alternative Break program was included in the “Curriculum” section of the 2018 SCI. Alternative break trips are immersive community-engaged learning experiences focused on personal growth and leadership development through community projects, education sessions, reflection, and teambuilding. An alternative break is a trip that engages a group of students in service and community-based learning, typically for a week. The Alternative Break (AB) program is centered on creating transformative, experiential learning experiences for students through regional, reciprocal campus-community partnerships. Alternative breaks aim to develop the capacity for students to lead for social change. According to the 2018 SCI, Alternative Breaks “infuse economic, social and environmental sustainability education though a fair trade learning model in which students explore and learn about the broadest impact of their travel and learning experience.”
Search Advocate Program
OSU’s Search Advocate program was included in the “Diversity & Affordability” section of the 2018 SCI. Established in 2008, OSU’s Search Advocate program enhances equity, validity, and diversity in university hiring. Search Advocates are OSU faculty, staff, and students who are trained as search and selection process advisors. Their preparation includes a two-part workshop series addressing current research about implicit bias, diversity, the changing legal landscape in hiring, inclusive employment principles, practical strategies for each stage of the search process, and effective ways to be an advocate on a search committee. As a quality assurance measure, advocates who wish to remain eligible beyond the first year must engage in relevant continuing education that is recorded and approved through the Search Advocate program.
Each Search Advocate is a consultant/participant who advances inclusive excellence by asking questions to help committee members test their thinking, identifying and promoting practices that advance diversity and social justice, and minimizing the impacts of cognitive and structural biases. As external committee members, advocates are able to explore assumptions, norms, and practices that an internal member might not question. The search advocate plays a vital role in position development, recruitment, screening, interviews, references, evaluation, and integration of the new faculty or staff member into the institution. In partnership with the search chair, search committee members, and hiring official, the search advocate affirms OSU’s commitment to inclusive excellence.
SuperSTARS of the 2018 Sustainable Campus Index
Top Performers by Topic
Curriculum: Green Mountain College
Research: UC Irvine
Campus Engagement: Berea College
Public Engagement: Colorado State University
Air & Climate: Green Mountain College
Buildings: UC Irvine
Energy: American University
Food & Dining: Sterling College
Grounds: Cascadia College
Purchasing: Macalester College
Transportation: Columbia University
Waste: New Mexico State University
Water: Princeton University
Coordination & Planning: University of Alberta
Diversity & Affordability: Stanford University
Investment & Finance: Green Mountain College
Wellbeing & Work: St. Mary’s College of California
STARS Platinum Institutions 2018
- Colorado State University
- Stanford University
- UC Irvine
- University of New Hampshire
“AASHE STARS.” AASHE-STARS, stars.aashe.org.