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ESF Earns High Marks for Sustainability Curriculum and Initiatives

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Sept. 25, 2023 – The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is recognized as a Top Performer in the 2023 Sustainable Campus Index based on the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). ESF was measured in 17 sustainability impact areas, resulting in Top Performer status in six categories, including a Top 10 ranking for doctoral-granting institutions.

“ESF strives to be a leader in steering the global sustainability transformation,” said Mark Lichtenstein, Chief Sustainability Officer at ESF. “These rankings reaffirm the efforts of our faculty, students, and staff to lead by example through research, community service, and stewardship. This recognition provides further inspiration for continued innovative work toward sustainability and climate action.”

Here’s how ESF ranked in this year’s report:

  • No. 1 – Sustainability Curriculum, which ranks courses, programs, and learning outcomes in sustainability, living laboratory initiatives, immersive experiences, sustainability literacy, and faculty development.
  • No. 1 – Investment & Finance, which looks at sustainable investment, committees for responsible investing, and investment disclosure.
  • No. 4 – Public Engagement, which ranks colleges on community and inter-campus partnerships, continuing education, community service, public policy participation, and trademark licensing.
  • No. 3 – Research, which covers faculty and department sustainability research, and initiatives for open-access research
  • No. 8 – Water Conservation and Reuse, which examines water use reduction and rainwater management.
  • No. 7 – Top performer in the doctoral-granting group, which is ranked based on the highest overall scores among doctoral institutions.

In the doctoral granting category,  ESF’s No. 7 ranking included institutions from the U.S. and Canada. ESF is ranked No. 5 among United States institutions, higher than larger institutions including the University of Connecticut and Stanford University.

STARS was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The 2023 Sustainable Campus Index is available here

AASHE empowers higher education administrators, faculty, staff, and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. It is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university's sustainability performance.

STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. It was developed by AASHE with broad participation from the higher education community. STARS participants submit data to earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum rating.


The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.