Changing Campus Culture: A Greenprint for SJSU

Faculty Advisor: Anne Fountain
Student Project Members:

  • Jessica Bruns
  • Onder Kustu
  • Alvin Lee
  • Daisuke Seto


As a prominent institution of higher education in one of the World's most technologically advanced regions, SJSU should implement sustainable practices in its operations, not only to improve the campus's carbon footprint but to set an example for others to follow. The Academic Senate of SJSU formed a "Task Force on Sustainability" last spring to lead efforts at SJSU. Our UNVS 196D team believes that the students at SJSU can and must be a significant part of the University's efforts.

Our vision is to see SJSU as an institution where all students are well-informed about the phenomenon of climate change; make no contributions to global warming, seek solutions to the problem; and, influence others to do the same. This vision requires a change from the current student culture to a culture of environmental awareness and sustainable lifestyles. Our team project consists of identifying how such a cultural change can be put into effect on the SJSU campus.

There are several groups at SJSU that are interested in improving sustainability of SJSU. We believe that scattered efforts of individual groups are not highly effective, and all activities related to a cultural change on campus would best be coordinated by a new umbrella organization. Our preferred name for this organization is "Spartan Sustainability Council (SSC)." The long term objective of SSC is to focus and coordinate all efforts on campus for achieving our vision. The SSC will implement a strategy to bring about cultural change on campus through education, leadership, and example.

The following are some examples of opportunities and activities for SSC:

  • Make CSI a permanent course and make it available to more students.
  • Make the annual "Sustainability Week" one of the most significant events on campus.
  • Develop and publicize slogans ("How Green Is Your Valley?" or "Just Say No to Bottled Water").
  • Set aside gardens for graduating classes.
  • Develop post and distribute informative posters and stickers.
  • Develop and operate an SSC web-page; provide a prominent link to it on main SJSU web-site.
  • Design and display sustainability-related projects at the Tech Museum.
  • Participate in relevant community and local government activities.
  • Produce an educational but entertaining play for on and off-campus performances.
  • Eliminate non-reusable plastic water bottles from the SJSU campus.
  • Encourage an environmental focus throughout the curriculum.

Our team picked the last activity, the "elimination of non-reusable plastic water bottles from SJSU campus," as one specific task that it can address in greater detail within the limitations of this class project. This action is supported by many environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, and it has been started at CSU-Chico State and at Harvard University. This is a way that San José State can lead the way in Silicon Valley. Our team is aware that non-campus vendors would not be bound by campus rules, and the administration would have budgetary limitations to do its part. But, we believe that eliminating non-reusable water bottles from campus is possible by influencing student behavior through education, example, and incentives. To initiate this campaign, the team is distributing a stainless steel water bottle to each faculty member and student participating in the UNVS196D class.