Student Involvement in Sustainability

Students are vital contributors to the University's sustainability efforts through both independent involvement and curricular projects and research.

Co-Curricular Involvement

Outside the classroom, there are myriad opportunities for students to actively participate and take leadership roles in sustainability programming.

Sustainability Office Interns
Sustainability interns have unique development opportunities, such as attending the annual AASHE Conference.

The Office of Sustainability employs around 13 (go 'gate!) student interns to promote behavior change, coordinate events, and support the ongoing sustainability initiatives that are improving Colgate's campus. 

These interns lead critical campus sustainability endeavors by:

  • Overseeing The Green Bikes program
  • Mentoring the Sustainability Representatives (see below)
  • Hosting 13 Days of Green (see below)
  • Managing The Oak Events program 
  • Supporting the employee Sustainability Passport Program
  • Leading the Climate Conversations P.E. course
  • Conducting the annual greenhouse gas inventory
  • Gathering data for the AASHE STARS Report
  • Galvanizing sustainable behavior change among the student body


Applications open in the spring semester for the summer and academic year and can be accessed on the Portal.

Often referred to as the "S-Rep" program, it is an introduction for first-year students to the Colgate's sustainability culture. The program equips these new students with the necessary skills and information to improve sustainable practices in their Residential Commons community.

S-Reps work within their Commons to develop and lead engaging educational programs to raise awareness of sustainability-related issues on and off campus.


Interested first-year students can learn more and apply at the activities fair at the beginning of the academic year.

Students and community members seated at tables listening to a speaker at the front of the audience.
13 Days of Green offers opportunities for community involvement in larger sustainability initiatives.

This is a campus-wide series of events that take place through the 13 days leading up to and including Earth Day in April. Its programming promotes environmental awareness and personal sustainability practices on campus. The series, which is planned and coordinated by the sustainability interns, may include:

  • Guest speakers
  • Clothing swaps
  • Panel discussions
  • Award ceremonies
  • Tree plantings

Check the campus calendar as Earth Day approaches to learn more.

The Green Summit

The summit is a central feature of the 13 Days of Green. It is a think tank that brings together students, faculty, staff, and community members to brainstorm solutions to Colgate's sustainability challenges — and then carry them out! Each year, the summit highlights a specific topic and brings in a panel of Colgate community members and partners to facilitate a lively discussion among the participants.

A student smiles at the camera while she places freshly-picked tomatoes in a container.
During the Fall Semester, students can help harvest produce that goes to dining halls on campus, the campus farm stand, and several food pantries.

The Colgate Community Garden offers many ways to get involved depending on your interests. Through the garden's open volunteer hours, you can help in the garden several times per week or just when you have availability.  Community Garden









A student in a red shirt locks a green bike to a bike rack on campus.

The Green Bikes Program is a semester-long bicycle rental program providing an affordable, healthy, and sustainable way to move around campus and the local community. Green Bikes Program




Academic Involvement

Many academic courses at Colgate provide students with the opportunity to think critically engage issues in sustainability. Through class projects and collaborations with faculty members on research, students contribute to significant advancements in sustainability on and off campus.

Owner of the Aqua Dulce urban organic farm and aquaculture facility, Jack Waite, shows students how the facility operates.
Classes may extend the learning experience beyond the Colgate campus, visiting relevant facilities and locations as part of the learning experience.

Colgate offers more than 100 sustainability-focused and sustainability-related courses across 22 academic departments. These include:

  •  Sustainability-focused: Courses that focus primarily on the subject of sustainability
  • Sustainability-related: Courses in which at least one module focuses on the subject of sustainability.

These classes engage all three pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environmental.

To find a sustainability course in the coming semester:

Sustainability courses

Colgate students combine their passions for sustainability with their academic interests to conduct research that advances real-world sustainability efforts. At Colgate, students have numerous opportunities to conduct research, be it in the curriculum, in collaboration with a faculty member, as a project for local community partners, or as a credit-bearing independent study. Some of the insights and proposals that have emerged from students' academic research endeavors has lead to long-lasting, meaningful change in campus sustainability efforts.

Student research in environmental studies

Upstate Institute Summer Field School

Physical Education Course

Climate Conversations

A five-week class offered by the Office of Sustainability. In this interactive discussion course, participants explore the principles and practice of sustainability at Colgate and beyond through assigned readings centered around a specific topic each week. This course counts for one of the PHED credits needed to graduate.