Sustainability Strategic Thinking

  • Context

    Lon Kaufman, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, and Mark Donovan, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, have empowered the campus community to begin a Sustainability Strategic Thinking (SST) process to define sustainability for UIC and how it connects with the long-term strategic goals of the campus.  To this end, they have charged a campus-wide Sustainability Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee and Sustainability Strategic Thinking Streering Committee.

    Historically UIC has addressed “sustainability” in terms of environmental issues such as energy consumption, recycling, trees, and transportation alternatives.  However this is only one part of the larger concept of sustainability, which takes into consideration other components – for example economics, resources (human, natural, and built), or diversity and social equity – that contribute to the long-term success of a complex system.

    Getting Started

    The goal for the Sustainability Strategic Thinking process is to view the sustainability of UIC in areas beyond ecology and the environment.   Together, we will:

    Consider what sustainability means in teaching, research, service, operations, and our impact on future communities.
    Examine our place within the urban environment and how that connects to our learning community.
    Ask questions such as:

    • How can we have a long-term view that ensures the future of programs, research and student success?
    • How can we build lasting relationships with community partners? How do we best preserve knowledge and information in the digital age?
    • How do we help our students retain what they have learned?
    • How do we prevent staff and faculty from “burning out?”
    • How do we connect environmental concerns with social justice?


    All of these are ‘sustainability’ issues in the larger view of the term.


  • Universities are incubators for the great ideas that propel the future.

    Whether it’s the heritage garden in collaboration with our student cultural centers, the multi-building geothermal system and LEED Certified smart design of Lincoln & Douglas Halls, the campus-wide recycling program and the thoughtful biowaste management at the UIC Hospital and College of Medicine, the organic soup kitchen at the Jane Addams Hull House, or the College of Education professors who are teaching the next generation of educators, UIC is an institution where ideas about sustainability are taking shape.

    On this page you will find examples that highlight UIC’s progress toward becoming a sustainable community, and documents that catalog our work to identify these assets.

    Introduction to the SST Process

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    Sustainable Innovations in the Dental Practice

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    Sustainability in Research & Teaching

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    Efficient & Responsible Resource Consumption in Labs

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    Douglas Hall: A LEED-Certified Building

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    Wholistic Approach to Sustainability

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    Food and Cultural Sustainability at the Hull-House

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  • With guidance from the Sustainability Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee (SSTAC), UIC students spent the Spring 2013 semester identifying and interviewing individuals on campus whose work, independently or through their campus organization or department, represents the many facets of sustainability at UIC – we refer to them as Assets. The SSTAC was organized into four working groups in which the assets – nearly 200 – could be organized and further categorized.

    Education & Outreach

    Documented by Eduardo Muñoz and Agnes Otap

    1. Gender and Sexuality Center and Urban Innovation Symposium
    2. Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement and Intergroup Dialogue

    Systems Use

    Documented by Romina Castillo and Ryan Mitchell

    1. Electronic Visualization Lab, Bike Plan, Office of Technology Management, and Learning Management System
    2. Recycling Program, Office of the Registrar, and Urban Transportation Center
    3. Building Automation Systems,  Information Technology Government Council, Undergraduate Student Government

    Physical Structure

    Documented by Rosemarie Dominguez and Nina Pellizzari

    1. BURST (Building Urban Resilience and Sustainability) and Memorial Grove
    2. IDEA Commons and Prof. Moira Zellner, Urban Planning and Policy

    Health & Wellness

    Documented by Rhea Rashad and Jen Zoleta; view the entire presentation.

    1. UIC/NIH Botanical Center
    2. Campus Dining Services
    3. Chancellor’s Initiative in the Humanities: “Food Studies at UIC: Local and Global Issues”
    4. Urban Health Program
    5. Midwest Latino Health Research, Training, and Policy Center
    6. Endocrine Disruptor Research
    7. Prof. Curt Winkle, Urban Planning and Policy
    8. Prof. William Kling, Public Health
  • As UIC engages in a Sustainability Strategic Thinking (SST) process to define sustainability for our institution and how it connects with the strategic goals of the campus, the resources on this page are intended to support the SST Advisory Committee and other interested UIC community members who want to think about the meaning of Sustainability and the systems that intersect, or work in concert, to support a sustainable community.


    SSTAC Introduction | PowerPoint | November 16, 2012

    Phase 1 Report: Going Beyond Green Portable Document Format | October 2013

    To Green and Beyond- Excellence through Sustainability at UIC: Stakeholder Meeting Background Document | March 2014

    To Green and Beyond – Excellence through Sustainability at UIC:  Final Draft — Printable | March 2015

         Please note that all blank pages are intentional and included for printing/publication purposes.  Thank you!  

       Please enter your comments to the report by clicking here.



    Case Studies


    Case Study 2: UIC as a Green Campus

    Case Study 1: UIC as a Green Campus

    Student leader Yaxal Sobrevilla and student intern Karl Novak planting on the LCC satellite garden.

    Case Study 2: The Heritage Garden

    Robert Dixon (left), Jeff Headrick (center), and Kevin Shalla (right) with the bike that they retrofit for mail delivery. Jeff pioneered bike delivery service at UIC, and the Office of the Registrar is the only office on campus to deliver mail by bike. Jeff claims that van delivery is inefficient because so many records are now electronic that all the mail he needs to deliver during a run fits into this box. He would like to see this practice institutionalized by being written into the job description for Distribution Clerk. He would also like to see improved safety for biking on campus.

    Case Study 3: Office of the Registrar

    Students study in IDEA Commons.

    Case Study 4: IDEA Commons

    uic dialogues

    Case Study 5: UIC Dialogues

    Image courtesy the Electronic Visualization Lab

    Case Study 6: Electronic Visualization Laboratory