Letter from Brandeis President, Frederick Lawrence

I am pleased to submit the information from Brandeis’ Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).  The STARS assessment is a helpful tool for monitoring progress toward Brandeis’ goal of sustainability and climate neutrality.  The accomplishments detailed in this report range from a robust sustainability curriculum - to capital investments in energy efficient technology.  

The commitment from the Brandeis University student body towards sustainability issues is truly exemplary, and it provides reassurance that this generation will meet the challenges of sustainability with resolve and dedication.

Read President Lawrence's entire letter: PDF

Sustainability Assessment

silver rating

Brandeis University is a charter participant in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

STARS is a voluntary self-assessment and rating system, comprised of sustainability activities in three areas:

  • Education and Research
  • Operations
  • Planning, Administration, and Engagement

Each category contains detailed information about a diverse array of sustainability indicators.

Brandeis proudly submitted the STARS Report in February of 2013, and was promoted to the Silver Rating!

View interactive STARS Report

STARS Summary (PDF)

Experiential Learning 

The STARS Report was an effort involving many departments and areas of the University. In order to fulfill academic learning goals in the Brandeis Climate Action Plan, active student learning and research was central to completing STARS.

Sustainability-Focused Faculty Research - February 2013

The inventory of Brandeis Faculty Engaged in Sustainability Research was compiled using the Brandeis University Registrar Course Listings and the following definition of Sustainability-Focused and Sustainability-Related Courses. The inventory was compiled for the purposes of the Brandeis STARS Report in February 2013. 

Definition of Sustainability-Focused and Sustainability-Related Courses

Sustainability is an inherently dynamic concept, because our understanding of potential harms to the well-being of both humans and nature are identified in large part through basic research in fields as diverse as climatology, toxicology, agronomy, and conservation biology. At its core though, and certainly within the context of designing a university curriculum, the call for a greater focus on sustainability requires a deeper integration of environmental science with economics and other human-centered disciplines, including history and even ethics. As such, sustainability-focused courses will be inherently integrative, including social, economic, and environmental dimensions, or will examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens. Sustainability-related courses may incorporate sustainability as a distinct course component or module, or concentrate on a single sustainability principle or issue (e.g., climate change).

The goal of sustainability education is to provide students, regardless of their courses of study, the knowledge and skills to help create a healthy economy, society, and environment.
In order to determine whether or not a course has this goal in mind, it is useful to ask whether or not the given course will help students to achieve one or more of the following:

  • Understand and be able to effectively communicate the concept of sustainability.
  • Develop and use an ethical perspective in which they view themselves as embedded in the fabric of an interconnected world.
  • Become aware of and explore the connections between their chosen course of study and sustainability.
  • Develop technical skills or expertise necessary to implement sustainable solutions.
  • Understand the way in which sustainable thinking decision-making contributes to the process of creating solutions for current and emerging social, environmental, and economic crises.
  • Contribute practical solutions to real-world sustainability challenges.
  • Synthesize understanding of social, economic, and environmental systems and reason holistically.
A Community Engaged Experiential Learning Practicum was offered in the Fall 2010 semester titled "Assessing the Triple Bottom Line". A practicum allows faculty and community partners to design a course component for a small group of students who are interested in hands-on experiences related to the theoretical course topics. Students researched STARS topics that they were addressing in their academic studies. Participating faculty and students included:

WMGS 5a, Women and Gender in Culture and Society

  • Dian Fox, Professor of Hispanic Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies
  • Eunice Ko ‘14 
  • Tianyi Zhang ‘13
SOC 118a, Observing the Social World: Doing Qualitative Sociology            
  • Sara Shostak, Assistant Professor of Sociology
  • Allison Cohen ‘12             

ENVS98A- Environmental Studies Independent Study

  • Laura Goldin, Associate Professor of the Practice in the Environmental Studies Program and Internship Director for the Environmental Studies Program
  • Hannah Saltman ‘12
  • Marisa Turesky ‘13     
  • Cecelia Watkins ‘11         
Facilitator: Janna Cohen-Rosenthal '03,

EL Practicum Students were able to dig deep into the rational behind their STARS credits and compare  activities at Brandeis with other campuses. Copies of the STARS Student Research Papers  are available and their research is included in the final STARS Report