Since the STARS report is now complete this semester, I have been working on analyzing the information from the report. Furman University received a Gold rating on STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) for the first time. In general, Furman excelled in the areas of Academics and Engagement. There are a total of 684 courses offered that include sustainability, and twenty-four academic departments at Furman offer at least one sustainability course and/or course that includes sustainability. Students are more aware of sustainable issues. In the Sustainability Perceptions survey administered earlier this year, 78% of participating students believe that sustainability is important in how they live and 59% are interested in integrating sustainability in their careers. In terms of sustainable engagement on campus, Furman has a variety of co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives such as the Global Issues Forum, The Furman Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, Environmental Action Group (EAG), and a Summer Scholars program. Furman students are also giving back to their community. A total of 1,960 students are engaged in community service and contributed 42,064 community service hours.
One specific area were Furman could make improvements is in the Planning and Administration category. Furman does supports underrepresented groups through organizations such as the Legacy Peer Mentorship Program, but there has been no diversity and equity assessing on campus that addresses areas such as campus climate, student diversity, employee diversity, and public engagement. Also, Furman significantly lacks investment that promotes sustainability. The institution could make improvements by forming a committee that would make sustainable investment recommendations and by investing in companies that are committed to social and environmental responsibility. Through the information provided by the STARS report, hopefully Furman can continue to promote sustainability on campus and begin making changes towards furthering these efforts.
I have enjoyed learning about Furman’s sustainable actions in depth. It is amazing how much we have advanced towards a more sustainable campus, but there are still many changes that could be made. I hope to continue my analysis of this report and work towards understanding changes Furman can make to better serve our community and environment.