Sustainability Initiatives

John Jay College Receives STARS Silver Rating for Achievements in Sustainability 

John Jay College recently earned a “Silver” rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. Most institutions achieve an unscored “reporter” designation or “Bronze” certificate in their first report. John Jay College’s silver rating in its first submission reflects its focus and commitment to promoting justice in all realms.

STARS is a comprehensive sustainability rating system for colleges and universities that addresses the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability. The rating system is continually evolving and has been developed by the higher education community through a transparent and inclusive process.

Read the John Jay College AASHE STARS Report Here

AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration and innovation and leadership. Participation in STARS is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

John Jay College is currently the only college at City University of NY (CUNY) to be rated by AASHE STARS. The Silver rating is the product of a tremendous amount of work on campus over the last 10 years and we’re very proud of our recognition as one of the leaders in college sustainability. The year-long journey to completing the STARS assessment was a collaborative effort, led by John Jay’s Sustainability Council Chair, Lindsey Kayman, with assistance from students and more than 20 departments around campus.

John Jay received the full points available for having a large percentage of academic courses, and a large percentage of research being conducted which are related to major sustainability challenges included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Earth Charter. The college also received an Innovation and Leadership credit for its annual EcoCinema Cafe Film Festival, a 3-day morning till night environmental film festival that takes place in the college’s Student Dining Hall.

Climate Ambassador Program

How long has it been since you had a discussion with anyone about climate change?  Most of us can’t bear to think about it and so we never bring it up.

Interested students in the Environmental Justice minor are being educated and trained to be “Climate Ambassadors.”  They view educational materials about climate change and receive instruction in public speaking.  They are provided with a slideshow that they can personalize to use in a 10-minute presentation for lecture classes.  After their presentation, they lead a 10-15-minute discussion with the class.  The program was piloted in 2020 and is being expanded in 2021.

Participation in the Climate Ambassadors Program allows students to help their classmates be able to prepare for the sustainability challenges of the 21st century.  By increasing, the number of informed people in interdisciplinary fields John Jay College is on the vanguard of the transition to a sustainable society.

Climate change is:

  • A criminal justice issue Indigenous and other environmental defenders around the world are being imprisoned and murdered for trying to protect nature and to ensure a livable world for future generations;
  • an intergenerational injustice.  The extreme temperatures, raging hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and floods that we are happening now will become increasingly severe and eventually catastrophic if greenhouse gases keep increasing in the atmosphere;
  • an economic injustice.People in countries who benefited the least from fossil fuels and did the least to cause climate change but will suffer the most;
  • an injustice to other species we share the Earth with.

Climate change will affect all of us, our kids and every living creature on Earth, especially future generations!Solutions must be just for people around the world and must not worsen the 6th mass extinction of animals that is currently in process.

The Climate Ambassadors discuss how students can get involved beyond reducing their environmental footprint, and inform about new developments and changes in paradigms, including:

  • New technologies being developed. 
  • The International Criminal Court is discussing making “ecocide” a crime against peace, like genocide. 
  • Countries and cities around the world are enacting Rights of Nature laws, so that nature is no longer treated as property that can be abused, so ecosystems can be represented in court to prevent harm from taking place.

Students who are interested in being trained as a Climate Ambassador should also contact Professor Good.  Faculty who would like to schedule an Climate Ambassador session for their class should contact Kate Good,

Check out the JJC Sustainability and Environmental Justice Program Website and Blog!