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 Opportunities

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.

Each year, the Office of Sustainability hires student interns to promote green living on campus and plan and coordinate events and programming for the year.

These interns lead critical campus sustainability endeavors such as:

  • The Green Bikes program
  • Mentoring the sustainability representatives (see below)
  • 13 Days of Green (see below)
  • The Oak Events program 
  • The annual RecycleMania challenge (see below)
  • The Greenhouse Gas Inventory
  • Behavior changes among the student body focused on recycling, energy efficiency, and food waste


Applications open mid-summer for the upcoming 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.

13 Days of Green

A student speaks at a podium during the Green Summit

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.

RecycleMania is an annual, national recycling competition involving hundreds of colleges and universities. During eight weeks each spring (February–March), Colgate rallies its students to reduce waste, increase recycling rates, and raise awareness of conservation issues across campus.

About RecycleMania

An annual, friendly competition among the four Residential Commons; the winner is the Commons that reduces its energy and water consumption most within the competition time period. Results are updated in real-time through Colgate's building dashboard. Within each Commons, the Sustainability Representatives (see above) share information, and help residents strategize methods for reducing their water and energy consumption.

Academic Involvement

Many academic courses at Colgate provide students with the opportunity to think critically 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 have been hugely influential on sustainability efforts of campus.

Student research in environmental studies

Upstate Institute Summer Field School

One of the ways in which students may fulfill Colgate's Physical Education requirement is through the Wellness Passport program. Among the programs that participation hours toward the passport are a variety sustainability-related programs, events, and workshops.

About the Wellness Passport

Examples of Programs and Events

Foundations of Sustainability

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.

The Sustainability 101 Program

An online training to acquire and demonstrate the knowledge and understanding required to support Colgate's sustainability and climate action programs. In total, the program takes two hours to complete and concludes with a quiz and writing assignment. To receive participation hours toward the wellness passport, students must email their certifications of completion to prior to the end of the semester.

Recycling Workshops

These workshops provide participants with an interactive approach to learning about recycling on campus and within Madison County.

Food Workshops

These workshops expose participants to examples of local food within the dining hall, examine sustainability within the realm of food, and meet with the Chartwell’s Sustainability Manager.

Upcycling Workshops

These workshops teach students to creatively reuse materials, rather than throw them away. Participants will practice this sustainable waste-reduction behavior by creating projects with materials that would otherwise have been thrown away.