Student Workers and their Role in Sustainability at a Small Liberal Arts University: A Case Study of Southwestern University

Authors: Kathryn Caudell*, Southwestern University
Topics: Higher Education, Careers and professional development
Keywords: student workers, STARS, AASHE
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Southwestern University earned a bronze rating for AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System in May 2018. This program has become an important guideline for developing sustainable initiatives on Southwestern’s campus and has largely been led by student workers within the Environmental Studies department. Student initiatives have played an important role in the history of environmental sustainability, such as the student-led initiative that led to a partnership between the City of Georgetown and Southwestern to provide the campus with 100% renewable energy. However, it is important to note the limitations on Southwestern’s ability to truly advance its environmental priorities because of the institutional amnesia that accompanies having student workers do the bulk of the work, as well as friction between staff and students. Therefore, this poster details how, at Southwestern, student workers have filled this role and successfully completed the STARS report for multiple years. This poster will discuss the benefits of this approach, the challenges that come with it, and the advances made as a result of the school’s involvement in STARS. Finally, this presentation will engage the audience on how this structure can be translated to other small liberal arts colleges like Southwestern University.

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