Science, Technology and Health

Top 5 in Nation for Sustainability

August 28, 2019

Biology class on the Duwamish River

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Seattle University continues to be recognized as a leading institution for advancing sustainability and environmental justice with the release the 2019 Sustainable Campus Index by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Seattle U ranked #4 nationally as an overall top performer among master’s institutions. Additionally, among all higher education institutions that were measured, it ranked #2 in the curriculum category and #8 in the public engagement category. 

The university also earned a Gold STARS rating from AASHE. STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. Seattle U’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website.

“This recognition reflects Seattle University’s deep commitment to sustainability in the classroom, in the field and across campus – hallmarks of the Jesuit ethos to be stewards of our planet,” said Provost Shane P. Martin. “Our students have a multitude of opportunities to study and conduct research alongside faculty experts and address the challenges of climate change and environmental justice in meaningful ways.”

The Center for Environmental Justice and the President's Committee for Sustainability drive the many sustainability programs on campus. As a result of this wide-ranging work, the university leads the way in sustainability among higher education institutions. Among our recent accomplishments:

  • 2019 EnviroStars Champion
  • #8 on Sierra's Cool Schools List for 2018
  • Green Honor Roll on The Princeton Review's Green Ratings System 2018
  • Seattle University’s Board of Trustees voted in September 2018 to adopt a pair of recommendations to divest the university’s $230 million endowment from fossil fuels within the next five years.

AASHE’s curriculum measurement covers courses, programs and learning outcomes in sustainability, as well as living laboratory initiatives, immersive experiences, sustainability literacy and faculty development.

Its public engagement measurement looks at problem-solving with community members and organizations in the governmental, nonprofit and for-profit sectors encourages widespread solutions to sustainability challenges. Public engagement can help students develop leadership skills while deepening their understandings of practical, real-world problems and the process of creating solutions.

The 2019 Sustainable Campus Index (SCI) recognizes top-performing colleges and universities overall by institution type and in 17 sustainability impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a voluntary framework used by hundreds of colleges and universities to measure, report and strengthen their contributions to global sustainability. The SCI also highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from participating institutions.

With more than 800 participants in 30 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.


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