Two top-tier industry publications recently recognized St. Lawrence University’s efforts to make sustainability an integral practice in all aspects of campus life—from the residence halls to academic programs, transportation, and dining options.
These initiatives and more were given top marks in both The Princeton Review’s “Guide to Green Colleges: 2022 Edition” and the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) “2021 Sustainable Campus Index (SCI).”
Out of 840 institutions surveyed for the “Guide to Green Colleges,” the University was one of 420 institutions to be recognized, earning a possible 94 out of 99 points. The Princeton Review praised St. Lawrence’s environmental literacy graduation requirement, low-impact off-campus study options like the Sustainability Semester and the Adirondack Semester, alternative transportation methods on campus, partnerships with local farms, and commitment to deriving at least 15% of its energy from renewable sources.
The AASHE awarded St. Lawrence a silver rating in their 2021 SCI. This ranking highlights the most sustainable colleges and universities in 17 impact areas, including air and climate, buildings, campus community engagement, curriculum, energy consumption, food and climate, and groundskeeping.
Among college applicants and their parents, there is a growing emphasis on colleges’ and universities’ efforts to promote sustainability on their campuses. According to The Princeton Review’s “2021 College Hopes & Worries Survey,” 78% of more than 11,000 applicants surveyed reported that having information about a college’s environmental commitment would affect their decision to apply to or attend the school—a nearly 12% increase over the same survey in 2020.
St. Lawrence graduates make the world a better place by tackling critical issues. Check out some of St. Lawrence’s signature programs and initiatives that are shaping the next generation of environmental changemakers.
Through immersive, hands-on programs, curriculum, and activities, St. Lawrence’s Sustainability Program strives to help students understand the interconnected nature of challenges to sustainability while equipping them with the diverse perspectives and experiences they’ll need to help tackle them. It’s flagship program offers students of all backgrounds and academic interests the opportunity to spend the academic year living and learning together at the sustainability site—a low-impact farmhouse just several miles from campus. The program also facilities workshops and events for the community, as well as internship opportunities for students.
This year, in collaboration with the Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Grant, the Sustainability Program introduced the campus-wide “Chocolate Passport” experience. It will support staff, faculty, and students in the joy of learning about all facets of chocolate through guest lectures, workshops, classes, and activities. The grant offers the entire University community an opportunity to explore everything from the agricultural production of chocolate to its role in the global marketplace to its chemical composition and culinary uses.
St. Lawrence’s Permaculture Garden, a project of the Sustainability Program, promotes sustainable landscape design and gardening practices that all members of the community can benefit from. All community members are welcome to volunteer with planting, maintenance, and harvest. The garden is home to a variety of herbs, fruit trees, and vegetables.
A verdant 110-acre tract of land that spans fields, forests, wetlands, and streams, the Living Lab also provides space for immersive classes and student-designed projects focusing on agroecology and renewable energy.
Students, faculty, and staff are currently partnering together to build an energy-efficient greenhouse, which relies on geothermal energy to maintain its interior temperature year-round. One major goal of the greenhouse is to produce the first ever North Country-grown citrus fruit, regardless of what winter weather comes its way.
Students on the Adirondack Semester spend the fall and early winter studying the relationship between humans and nature while living off the grid in Arcadia, a yurt village in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. The final month consists of a local-work study, which places students in North Country farms, workshops, schools, and businesses where they gain real-world career experience while working alongside woodworkers, blacksmiths, educators, dairy farmers, and more.
St. Lawrence’s Green Cafe course empowers students to engage with local sustainable food systems and share these connections with the campus community. Once a month, students collaborate to prepare a dinner using locally-sourced ingredients thanks to partnerships with local farms. Each dinner focuses on a specific theme (e.g. local food, food access, gratitude, and food justice) that ties back to course material. Students in this course also acquire career-relevant experience while planning, managing, and operating the cafe each month.