JMU's Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World (ISNW) uses a working definition of sustainability that is adapted from the Federal Register (2009): Sustainability creates and maintains "the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.” The ISNW recognizes the natural world’s intrinsic value and that humans are part of the natural world. Accordingly, we are committed to contributing, as individuals and as an institution, to the flourshing of nature and humans.

The responsibility for sustainability is not housed in one university unit, but is shared across all divisions. JMU’s achievements can be attributed to the past and current efforts of staff, faculty and students in many areas, commonly in collaboration.  Information on JMU’s programs and plans related to the social and economic dimensions of sustainability can be found on numerous JMU websites.  A few examples are

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS®) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Based on JMU’s 2017 STARS report, JMU received a Silver Rating. AASHE “defines sustainability in a pluralistic and inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations. STARS attempts to translate this broad and inclusive view of sustainability to measurable objectives at the campus level.” Thus, STARS includes credits related to an institution’s environmental, social and economic performance, and JMU’s reports address these.


Environmental stewardship at JMU means conserving, stewarding and restoring natural systems as we contribute to social well-being and economic prosperity for current and future generations. Our approach considers interdependent natural, economic and social systems in an integrated way and aims to achieve sustainability. Visit the following websites to learn more about what JMU is doing and how you can act as an environmental steward:

The Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability supports, coordinates and promotes environmental stewardship efforts across divisions of the university and conducts reporting on environmental stewardship and sustainability.  Visit the OESS to learn about environment-related and sustainability-related co-curricular, academic, and research opportunities; to request data, student presentation funding or professional development; and to find events.

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