STARS Course

Course in Sustainability Research for Spring and/or Summer

Options for credit: Individual Study, Internship (GEOG/NRM 300), or Honors Contract

This course can be taken as 1-6 Undergraduate or Graduate credits, with the potential for some level of tuition assistance (institutional support).

Click here to jump to info on how to sign up

The UAF Office of Sustainability, in partnership with faculty to be determined, is sponsoring a course for 3-15 students to conduct the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) program for the UAF campus. The Office of Sustainability will direct the project. Student work will include collecting and analyzing data from throughout the campus and reporting it using the STARS tools. This is a comprehensive sustainability assessment that includes topics such as research, classes, co-curricular education, administration, planning, finance, investments, diversity, and operations, including energy, water, waste, cleaning, paper use, purchasing, food, transportation and more.

The goal is to provide a thorough and accurate sustainability assessment of the campus to earn points toward an official 3-year rating. This rating will be public and may be used by future students considering UAF in their selection of universities. This tool will also be a guide for advancing sustainability in all sectors of UAF.

The course is designed to credit both undergraduate and graduate study either through Individual Study, Internship (GEOG/NRM 300), or Honors Contract.

STARS, developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), is a voluntary, self-reporting framework for gauging relative progress toward sustainability for colleges and universities. More information about AASHE and STARS can be found at and

STARS is designed to:
1. Provide a guide for advancing sustainability in all sectors of higher education.
2. Enable meaningful comparisons over time and across institutions by establishing a common standard of measurement for sustainability in higher education.
3. Create incentives for continual improvement toward sustainability.
4. Facilitate information sharing about higher education sustainability practices and performance.
5. Build a stronger, more diverse campus sustainability community

• An opportunity to gain real-world sustainability experience and help UAF become a more sustainable campus.
• Gain a strong grasp of what an organization needs to do in order to consider itself a leader in sustainability
• Learn how sustainability assessment is conducted in an organization – a critical, transferable skill
• Network with other students and campus members interested in sustainability
• Learn what other campuses are doing for sustainability

The Office of Sustainability will hold a meeting with all selected students and faculty members to review what is needed and to plan how students can take responsibility for particular areas. Faculty will determine how students will be graded and communicate the expectations for meeting requirements of the course. There may be an opportunity to develop a paper for presentation at the national AASHE conference next October in Pittsburg. The Office of Sustainability will work with students to manage the project, establish deliverables and timelines, and develop data collection, analysis, and reporting methods. The Office of Sustainability will provide training on tools and methods as needed to make the project successful. This project has the full support of UAF administration.

How to sign up

There are 3 ways to take the course:

1) Students in Natural Resources Management and Geography can take the class as an internship. NRM/GEOG 300 (CRN 34832) are variable credit courses. The number of credit hours that will be earned by the student intern is established prior to the initiation of the internship. This number ranges from 1-3 credits per semester. Several considerations enter into establishing credit for the internship: current credit hour load, number of contact hours per week the student can realistically complete, amount of time the Cooperating Supervisor can spend with the intern, and the objectives the student intern desires to achieve during the internship.

A minimum of four contact hours per week is recommended per credit hour of internship. Thus, for a three credit hour internship, the student intern should arrange approximately 12 clock hours per week to spend working on the internship. A student may take as many as 6 credit hours of internship, but no more than 3 credits during any given semester. Internships are letter graded. Download the Internship Handbook (PDF) for additional information and sign up forms.

2) Honors students can take the course as a HONORS Research Course CRN 75175. HONR F498 or through an honors contract.  

3) The Individual Study option is available for graduate students and for any interested student who is NOT a Geography, NRM, or Honors student. Students interested in an individual study will need to fill out an Individual Study Approval form with an attached syllabus to the Registrar’s Office, along with an Add/Drop registration form. Non-honors students may also take HONR F498 with permission. Individual study approval forms are also available from the Office of Admissions and the Registrar. Have it signed by your instructor and department head from the department in which the course is being taught, and turn it in with your registration or add/drop form. Individual study course numbers end in -97. The course reference number for an individual study course will be assigned by the Office of Admissions and the Registrar after you register for your other classes.

For information contact Michele Hebert, Office of Sustainability Director 907-388-6085,

Back to Top