St. Lawrence University is one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges according to The Princeton Review, which included St. Lawrence in its "Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition."
The Princeton Review selected St. Lawrence to be among the 416 colleges included in the guide based on its survey of administrators at 695 colleges in 2019-20 concerning their institutions' sustainability-related policies, practices, and programs. Survey topics ranged from academic offerings and campus initiatives to career preparation for "green" jobs.
St. Lawrence received a 94 out of 99 Green Rating from The Princeton Review, which also noted the University is rated silver by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’ Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (AASHE STARS). STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.
The Princeton Review noted that there has been a high level of interest among college applicants and their parents in colleges with green practices, programs, and offerings. Sixty-six percent of the 12,845 respondents (college-bound teens and parents) to The Princeton Review's 2020 College Hopes & Worries Survey said that having information about a college's commitment to the environment would affect their (or their child's) decision to apply to or attend a school.
What Makes St. Lawrence a “Green College”
Forward-Thinking Academic Programs and Passionate Faculty
St. Lawrence’s Environmental Studies program is one of the oldest in the nation and one of the largest at any liberal arts college or university. The program empowers students to make a positive difference in the world through environmental science, stewardship, and problem-solving. Students develop deep knowledge as they connect what they are learning to how issues, such as climate change, impact the economy, public health, and societal well-being.
Environmental Studies faculty members are well-known botanists, field ecologists, climate change scientists, and renewable energy experts by day, and hobby farmers, beekeepers, explorers, and environmental justice activists by night.
Environmental Studies offers stand-alone and combined degrees that focus on sustainability, while the conservation biology major places protection of the world’s biodiversity as a central tenant. Students can also gain outdoor leadership experience and course credit through the University's Outdoor Program.
A Place for Innovation: St. Lawrence’s Living Lab
St. Lawrence’s Living Lab features fields, forests, wetlands, and streams complete with a three-story house, outbuildings, and a small garden that is used throughout the year. The lab, which is easily accessible from campus, also features a solar electric system that was designed and installed by St. Lawrence students. Four courses utilized the Living Lab during the Fall 2020 semester, including Sustainable Agriculture, Global Change and Sustainability, Economics to Save the Planet, and Practicum in Environmental Studies.
Local Study Adventures with Global Impact: The Adirondack Semester and Sustainability Program
With Northern New York full of rich and diverse research and experiential learning opportunities, it makes sense that two of St. Lawrence’s off-campus study opportunities take place in the University’s backyard.
The Adirondack Semester, which celebrated its 20th anniversary during the Fall 2019 semester, enables students to study nature and human relationships with nature while living off the grid in Arcadia, a yurt village deep in the Adirondack Park. Students study nature and human relationships with nature through academic classes enriched by direct experience. Important elements of the semester include understanding critical environmental issues, living in a materially simple, close-knit community and in close connection to wild nature, learning the skills to recreate safely and pleasurably in wild nature, understanding elements and interrelationships of the natural world, and reflecting critically and creatively on the experiences of the semester and the many questions it raises.
St. Lawrence’s Sustainability Program gives the next generation of thinkers and leaders the tools to tackle the globally important challenges of sustainability. Students live in a farmhouse only a few miles from campus and live on a 33.5-acre farm filled with gardens, orchards, and livestock and participate in a variety of skills-based workshops focused on topics like food systems, energy, homesteading, and networking with environmental professionals. Students also interact with local community members during field trips and seminars at various organizations, homesteads, and farms.
From Research to Reality: Energy-Efficient Greenhouse on Campus
As part of his Senior Year Experience, Jesse Vining ’20 designed an energy-efficient greenhouse that would be a one-of-a-kind structure in the North Country. During the Fall 2020 semester, students taking the Practicum in Environmental Studies course began making it a reality. The greenhouse will rely on simple and affordable technologies to provide year-round growing conditions using purely passive solar and geothermal energy. Students in the class built the foundation and became skilled masons, laying nearly 1,000 bricks to complete the bottom portion of the greenhouse. In 2021, students in the same course will complete the top portion.
From Our Farm to Your Table: The Green Café
In 2019, the Sustainability Program launched the Green Café, an innovative and collaborative student-run café featuring locally grown organic produce grown at the Sustainability Farm and local sources. Students collaborate with chefs from Big Spoon Kitchen in Potsdam to create a specialized weekly "Green Café" that highlights local, sustainable, and healthy food. The project is a collaboration with the Sustainability Program, Dining and Conference Services, Seed to Table (a student-run garden on campus), and St. Lawrence's business in the liberal arts program.
Action and Activism: Student Clubs Make a Difference
St. Lawrence students bring an awareness to environmental issues in diverse ways, encouraging and advocating for sustainable living through waste, food consumption, reusable utensils, and educating the campus and community. The Low-Impact Living Greenhouse theme cottage and the Environmental Action Organization (EAO) student organization, for example, both aim to be catalysts for change on campus through educating students about various sustainable initiatives and healthy green living.