Green Campus Academic Network

Green Campus Academic Network

The Green Campus Academic Network (GCAN) assembles faculty, staff, and students from a variety of disciplines to promote sustainability-related engagement and leadership. By advancing hands-on, experiential learning opportunities and using green campus features and facilities to serve both operational and academic needs, GCAN extends the classroom to the campus and beyond.

As a collaborative led by the Office of Sustainability, Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering (CESE), Office of Public Engagement, and EcoHouse, GCAN promotes the campus as a “living laboratory,” one that highlights best practices and facilitates research demonstration projects. The OS furthers GCAN’s mission of raising sustainability awareness by conducting green campus and building tours, presenting guest lectures, developing dashboards and digital posters, and advising class projects.


The Green Campus Academic Network is composed of the following sustainability initiatives:

Experiential Learning – Academic Programs, Class Projects, Guest Lectures, Tours

Faculty members who teach various courses at UConn integrate classroom learning with semester-long projects that encourage students to consider campus sustainability. In the past, students designed proposals for viable sustainability initiatives and projects to be implemented on campus, compared campus infrastructure to municipalities in developing countries, collected air quality monitoring data at locations on campus, and presented research findings at poster sessions. GCAN members engage their students in these kinds of campus sustainability projects, or integrate green campus tours, guest lectures, discussion groups and extra credit opportunities.

Carol Atkinson-Palombo GEOG

Shahid Farooqi PHYS

Tom Harrison NRE / Environmental Law

Christine Kirchhoff ENVE

Chris Simon EEB

John Volin and Lauren Cisneros NRE

Kristina Wagstrom CHEG


A group of GCAN members collaborated to organize trips to COP 21 in Paris, COP 22 in Marrakech, and COP 23 in Bonn. The Conference of Parties (COP) is a yearly United Nations climate change conference that brings together delegates and government officials from throughout the world to take action on combatting climate change through greenhouse gas emissions reduction. At the conferences, UConn students, faculty, and staff attend sustainability-themed lectures, exhibits, and workshops on topics such as public health and human rights, hosted by NGOs, companies, and government officials and agencies. The experience is enriching and engaging for those who attend as well as the UConn community, through social media and presentations following the trip. The following faculty and sustainability staff have supported UConn@COP:

Photo courtesy of Dr. Mark Urban


Carol Atkinson-Palombo GEOG

Oksan Bayulgen POLS

Kathyryn Libal HRTS

Joe MacDougald Environmental Law

Rich Miller OEP

Sarah Munro OEP

Jim O’Donnell MARN

Tracy Rittenhouse NRE

Anji Seth GEOG

Lawrence Silbart AH

Scott Stevenson GEOG

Mark Urban EEB

Guiling Wang CE

Biotic Inventory of Campus

Photo Courtesy of OEP Intern Ben Breslau

During the drafting of UConn’s 2020 Vision for Campus Sustainability and Climate Leadership, there was a desire to incorporate the expansion of biodiversity of plant types on campus. This initiative is responsible for organizing and performing a baseline study of the plant types found across campus, and using this baseline data as a means to improve campus biodiversity. Increasing plant type biodiversity will minimize maintenance and enhance the experiential and educational value of the campus arboretum. The Biotic Inventory group includes the following members:

Mike Willig EEB

Sean Vasington UPDC


Spring Valley Student Farm as a Living Laboratory

Photo courtesy of UConn Mediashare

Spring Valley Student Farm offers faculty and students the opportunity to explore and research topics including sustainable, organic food growing methods. The farm is utilized as a living laboratory for students and local community members through various outreach programs. Current projects at the farm include the installation of solar thermal panels to heat the soil in the greenhouse through water circulation, and an aquaponics system that utilizes a closed loop of nutrients that travel between a tank of coy fish and beds of growing plants. The following faculty and staff members are involved in implementing these projects:

Julia Cartabiano SVSF

Richard Parnas CHEG / EcoHouse

Julia Yakovich Service Learning