students and faculty standing in front of solar panels at UC Merced

Student Engagement

"Preparing our students to be leaders in the areas of climate change and environmental sustainability is no longer an option; it is an imperative." — UC President Janet Napolitano

Much of the credit for the university’s sustainability programs belongs to the students, whose call to action in 2003 resulted in the approval of a sustainability policy commitment that has evolved into the present day Sustainable Practices Policy. The California Student Sustainability Coalition created a network of student activists across all UC campuses and also founded the Education for Sustainable Living Program, which enables students to get credit for student-led courses and research.

Today, student approved “Green Initiative Funds” on eight of nine UC undergraduate campuses support student-led projects, campus sustainability programs, and student internships. Campuses offer an average of eighteen types of student sustainability programs, including orientations, themed residence halls, zero waste programs, energy and water reduction competitions, leadership training and student gardens.

Students can engage directly with Presidential Initiatives through the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative Student Fellowship and Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship programs. So far, more than 200 fellows have worked on year-long projects addressing climate, resiliency, energy, engagement, community health, food access, farming and food justice. Student representatives sit on both the Global Climate Leadership Council and Sustainability Steering Committee.