Grant Purpose:

The Sustainable Universities Initiative seeks to promote a greater understanding of the links between the economy, the environment and society, in order to prepare students for the complex world they will enter as adults.  Regardless of their chosen major, our students need to understand such issues well enough to make informed decisions.  Our campuses should set the best example possible, and for this reason the Initiative also focuses on campus operations, encouraging conservation and careful planning for physical operations.  Ideally, student education and campus conservation should be combined, allowing students to use the campus as a laboratory and at the same time assist campus operations. 

To that end, the Initiative is offering mini-grants  for the following purposes: 

  • Changing campus operations to conserve resources and/or reduce pollution (Preference will be given to proposals that use the campus as a laboratory for students, allowing them to develop skills by solving campus problems and to proposals that will result in documented cost savings and/or reductions in pollution). 
  • Developing new courses, or modules for existing courses, which will infuse sustainability into the curriculum.   (Preference will be given to courses which link academics with campus operations in some way, which are interdisciplinary in nature, which involve more than one institution, or which have wide applicability). 
  • Motivating large segments of the campus to consider, discuss, and take action to minimize pollution and maximize conservation of resources. 
  • Organizing a statewide conference or workshop which brings together faculty (or staff) from multiple disciplines and/or multiple institutions to consider an issue related to sustainability.
  • Finally, funding may be available for student-initiated projects or travel, faculty travel for the purpose of developing expertise related to sustainability, and research which appears to hold promise for external, long-term funding, which is inter-institutional and/or interdisciplinary in nature, and which involves students to the degree possible.  Proposals which focus on university operations are especially welcomed.  (Note: this is not meant to provide continued funding for a personal research agenda, but to spark a new initiative which will involve cooperation and interdisciplinary work focused on issues related to sustainability). 
Due Date: 

All applications are due by 5:00 pm March 4, 2003. 


Eligible applicants are faculty members from the state's three research universities or from other SUI member institutions, who are neither on terminal notice nor have accepted a position at another institution, or staff members who periodically teach courses or hold research-related appointments.  Post-doctoral appointees are not eligible.  While graduate assistants may be involved in the project, it is not SUI's intent to fund individual graduate assistants' research programs.  Facilities managers may apply for grants pertaining solely to operations, although, if students are to be involved, joint faculty/staff applications are preferred.  (Feel free to call the office if assistance is needed in finding partners).


Funding will be for one year, beginning May 1 of the year awarded, or as requested.   Awards will generally be in the range of $3,000 to $10,000 and will not, as a rule, exceed $10,000 for any one project.  Awards for the development of new courses or modules for existing courses will not exceed $3,000.  Once awards are made, the funding will be transferred to the principal investigator's department, where the investigator will be accountable for the use of the funds according to the approved budget. 


The proposals will be evaluated by the SUI Steering Committee using the following criteria: 

  • Likelihood that the project will improve campus environmental performance by conserving resources or reducing pollution
  • Likelihood that the project will improve the teaching of environmental/sustainability concepts. 
  • Likelihood that the project will affect a large segment of campus. 
  • Degree to which the project is inter-institutional and/or interdisciplinary 
  • Ability of the project to serve as a model for other schools or other agencies and organizations. 
  • Overall quality and significance of the proposal. 
  • Degree to which the project represents new activity. (The mini-grants are not intended to be an add-on to on-going research).
  • If the mini-grant is for the development of a new course or a module for an existing course, the commitment of the applicant's home department to offer the course at least once every other year, pending adequate enrollments or, in the case of course modules, commitment of the applicant to include the module each time the course is offered. 
General Information and Requirements:

1. Grants are expected to be activated by May of the year awarded and work is expected to be completed by April 30 of the following year.  Funds must be spent by the end of the calendar year in which they are awarded, unless specific arrangements have been made to extend the grant period. 

2. An interim progress report must be submitted by September 1 of the year in which funds are awarded.  (Interim reports can be as brief as a paragraph or two emailed to Kim Buchanan at buchanan "at"; this will aid in our reporting requirements). 

3. A final report, consisting of a financial accounting as well as a description of the project undertaken, results, student evaluations (in the case of new courses), recommendations for subsequent efforts, etc. must be submitted to Kim Buchanan at buchanan "at" within 30 days of the end of the funding period.  Final reports will be accessible through the SUI website in order to inspire and assist others.  Therefore, electronic submissions are preferred, and reports may be brief.   Some very effective reports have included links to supporting material already included in the faculty member's own website. 

4. Faculty are encouraged to submit syllabi in order to make them available to like-minded individuals around the country.   All syllabi should be submitted with the Final Report to Kim Buchanan at buchanan "at"

5. Subsequent applications for funding will not be considered unless required reports have been made. 

6. Publications, where relevant, are encouraged, and should include an acknowledgment of Sustainable Universities Initiative support. 

7. It is the responsibility of each investigator to ensure that institutional requirements for the use of humans, animals, and/or biohazards in research have been satisfied before activating an award. 

8.  Pictures of activities (particularly action shots including students) undertaken as a part of the grant are very helpful in explaining the program, illustrating its successes, etc.  Please remember to visually document your activities and share photos with us. 

Application Guidelines: 

Each applicant must submit one electronic copy of the entire application (Application Cover Sheet, Narrative Description, Budget Information Sheet and abbreviated version of Curriculum Vita).

Each application should include: 

  • Application Cover Sheet - If the proposal involves individuals from more than one department, each should mail one cover sheet signed by his/her own department chair and dean. Click here if you would like a Microsoft Word version of the Application Cover Sheet.
  • Narrative Description including purpose, target population or audience, expected outcomes, transferability to other institutions, need for the course or module, and, in the case of new course development, estimated enrollments for initial and subsequent offerings. The narrative should not exceed three pages (but applicants should not feel compelled to fill three pages if the information could be conveyed in fewer.) 
  • Budget Information Sheet, indicating category of expenditure. If the project involves individuals from more than one department, indicate to which department each category of funding applies.  Click here if you would like a Microsoft Word version of the Budget Information Sheet.
  • The applicant's abbreviated version of his or her Curriculum Vita or a reference to a web page containing same.  Applicants are responsible for obtaining the approval of the relevant “authorized representative” (Sponsored Programs officer, budget officer, research officer, etc.) at their institution. 
Please mail one copy of the complete application, including the Application Cover Sheet with signatures, abbreviated version of Curriculum Vita and Budget Information Sheet, to: 

                                           Trish Jerman, SUI Program Manager 
                                           c/o Room 702G, Byrnes Building 
                                           University of South Carolina 
                                           Columbia, SC   29208 
                                           (803) 777-7760 

In addition, to facilitate the review process, please email a copy to your school's Principal Investigator, or, in the case of Phase II schools, to your school’s designated SUI Fellow.  (Emailed copies are not expected to have signatures on the cover sheet).  Address questions to Trish Jerman, 803.777.7760, or jerman "at" 

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Prepared by Kim Buchanan.
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