Our Green Universities: Sustainability at UCB and UCSC



The Saturn is currently located in two great cities that house two outstanding University of California campuses: Berkeley and Santa Cruz. In an effort to be responsible and representative, both schools have been recognized for their substantive efforts to promote and implement sustainability through courses of study as well as campus life.


Let’s take a look at what’s going on at these campuses and applaud the work that they are doing.


First, University of California as a whole has pledged to become carbon neutral by the year 2025, the first major university to do so. In what must become a worldwide fight to prevent climate change from deteriorating our environment further, these California universities are striving to lead. What else is happening at these top schools?


University of California, Santa Cruz

Go Slugs! Ah, UC Santa Cruz, the alma mater in the city of Saturn’s birth. If you’re ready for more than beach, boardwalk, and redwood groves, there is plenty to do on and around the UCSC campus.


#1 All the sustainable degrees

The university’s Doctoral program in environmental studies takes “exceptional individuals with strong foundations in their own field” and educates them in adjacent environmental specialties by linking ecology and social sciences. The Rachel Carson College has been a hub of environmental innovators and source of real world solutions to the environmental challenges facing our world.


#2 The Sustainability Lab

A center for student innovation on and off campus, the S-Lab takes a holistic, multidisciplinary approach, positioning itself as a “makerspace and incubator for student-led projects.” They’ve been involved in projects with sustainable food systems, water security, renewable energy for transportation, sustainable power systems, and more.


#3 Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP)

The Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) student-run organization offers Action Research Team (ART) credits during spring semester at UCSC. The classes involve hands-on learning or in-depth research projects and encourage active participation in events and internships that arise across campus and throughout the community.


#4 Top school

In 2011, UCSC won peta2’s award for #1 Vegan-Friendly College in the nation, after students’ fierce efforts to push Meatless Mondays in the dining halls. For the second year in a row, the Sierra Club named the school one of the top 25 greenest colleges in the country for 2017. Bit by bit, the university’s determination is making a difference.


#5 Actionable opportunities

The UC’s own office of Sustainability has resources devoted to promoting sustainability–and have connections across the Santa Cruz region for jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, and more ways to participate in sustainability efforts.


University of California, Berkeley

Go Bears! If you’ve come to experience the school with the reputation for free speech and a passion for protest, then you’ll also be ready to enjoy the deep interest in sustainability that Berkeley has long pursued.


#1 All the sustainable degrees

If you want to use your degree to make a difference, there’s no better place to earn it than a top-rated university with comprehensive programs to prepare you. The Sustainable Development Master’s Program provides practical training for advanced sustainable development work that is so critically needed. Bachelor’s degrees in Sustainable Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture + Environmental Planning, Society and Environment, and Conservation and Resource Studies are also answers to a need. Consider the major or audit a course to learn more yourself.


#2 Green DeCals

DeCals, if you don’t already know, are student-organized and run courses for which other students can earn one or two credits per semester. They range from general pop culture topics to following very specific historical individuals. Others, like this year’s Sustainable Energy for a Greener Tomorrow and Berkeley Urban Garden Internship give interested students a place to learn and act towards a more sustainable future.


#3 Inclusive dining options

Last summer, Cal opened up what was called a “more inclusive cafe.” This dining hall offered Kosher meals and aimed to deliver foods for a greater variety of palates. But the other key goal was the focus on “creating more plant-forward menus on campus.” Cafe 3 has been a more healthful, sustainable option ever since, reflecting national trends and needed moves towards renewable consumption of resources.


#4 The Green Initiative Fund

Established by student leaders, The Green Initiative Fund, (TGIF) was created to promote sustainability projects across campus. The campaign provides funding for various green projects, connects students with internships that give them experience in the field, and is a central information point for the university’s own efforts towards a more sustainable campus.


#5 Green campus highlights

Practice experiential learning while checking out the seriously cool green campus walking tour. Highlights include the Re-Used station, water refilling spots, project restore Strawberry Creek, several LEED certified buildings, and more.


What have you discovered in these beautiful green cities? Share your favorite things about Berkeley and Santa Cruz, sustainable or otherwise.


P.S. Saturn Cafe is headed to another California city known for its veg-friendly vibes and awesome UC. Stay tuned for more information!