PSU Co-designs New International Sustainability Program Standards


In August 2019, the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) released a new set of sustainability standards alongside the release of their 10th edition of the  CAS Professional Standards for Higher Education. The 10th edition includes standards for 47 functional areas with a focus on student services. The new Sustainability Standards recommend best practices for student-focused sustainability program development and assessment.

PSU was actively actively involved in the development of the Contextual Statement, Standards, and complementary Self Assessment Guide. The initial proposal for this initiative was created by Heather Spalding, Coordinator of PSU’s Student Sustainability Center within Student Activities and Leadership Programs (SALP). The Standards’ opening contextual statement summarizes the history and current activities of both sustainability education and student affairs. This overview can provide valuable background for professionals and program developers who want to understand more about how these unique educational fields have developed and can complement each other. The Standards also share recommended best practices that can help practitioners create and refine mission statements; programs and services; student learning, development, and success; assessment; access, equity, diversity, and inclusion; leadership, management and supervision; possibilities for collaboration; and financial management, among other topics.

The accompanying Self-Assessment Guide utilizes the CAS framework to help programs analyze rate their sustainability programs and services in relation to the Standards. The tool includes rating scales and action plan to guide ongoing program development and assessment.

Other contributors to the Standards include members of Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education (NASPA), multiple universities, American College Personnel Association (ACPA), and the Association of College and University Housing Officers - International (ACUHO-I). Experts from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) also provided insights and feedback for the Standards and are sharing them within the AASHE network. The Sustainability Standards Development Committee hopes that the Standards will be broadly applicable within higher education sustainability programs.

The Standards and accompanying Self-Assessment Guide can be found here.

Please direct all questions and inquiries about the new standards to CAS Interim Executive Director Dr. Deborah Garrett (