Sustainability Plan

The Cornell University Sustainability Plan is administered by the Sustainable Cornell Council (SCC), the governance body for campus sustainability and climate change leadership at the Ithaca, NY campus.

The Sustainable Cornell Council (SCC) is Cornell University’s sustainability governance committee for the Ithaca campus, responsible for directing and coordinating Cornell’s role as an international leader in addressing climate change and sustainability, advancing meaningful progress in our operations, and advancing active engagement from the campus community. 

The Council includes three steering committees, a leadership team, and working groups. Steering Committees will identify working priorities and lead short-term groups each year with broad membership from the campus to advance sustainability projects, initiatives, and campus research.  These working priorities comprise a living sustainability plan. 

Browse our living plan (SCC Priorities)


Related Sustainability Goals and Plans

Cornell University has integrated sustainability priorities into numerous strategic documents.  In addition to the working priorities plan, referenced above, the following strategic, planning, and resource allocation documents comprise a "living network" of sustainability plans and commitments:

Curriculum & Research Goals

Cornell University Radical Collaboration Priorities: Sustainability (PDF)
Specific recommendations fall under four categories, with sub-goals spelled out for each:

  1. Focus interdisciplinary research on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with an initial focus on the equitable distribution of food, energy, and water for a growing human population as this focus builds on existing Cornell strengths.

  2. Fill critical intellectual gaps and enhance Cornell’s interdisciplinary intellectual community with coordinated hires of eight senior faculty with experience in bridging disciplines relevant to the system of systems analysis necessary to achieve the SDGs. 

  3. Educate the next generation of sustainability professionals by creating a university- wide graduate program in Sustainability Studies administered by the Atkinson Center. 

  4. Create organizational structures in the Atkinson Center to support large, long-term interdisciplinary research programs that are co-created with nonacademic organizations whose mission is to change sustainability products, practices or policies. A professor of the practice or executive in residence position would build and maintain strategic partnerships with non-academic organizations to increase the impact of Cornell research. 

Cultural Sustainability Goals 

Belonging at Cornell Framework

Belonging at Cornell is a framework designed to continue the progress towards making Cornell a more diverse and inclusive environment. The framework aligns initiatives with clearly stated institution-wide objectives and metrics to track and foster a sense of belonging, fair treatment, and recommendation score along with workforce composition and retention metrics.  Sustainability is one of the key components of the framework.

Cornell University Core Values

Cornell University Core Values

In 2019, the university adopted a set of six core values that will serve as the foundation for a more equitable and inclusive atmosphere for all Cornell campuses. Relevant values include:

  1. Respect for the Natural Environment: We value our role in advancing solutions for a sustainable future and we recognize the close relationship between people and the Earth, acting in ways to live and work sustainably.

  2. A Community of Belonging: As a university founded to be a place where “…any person can find instruction…,” we value diversity and inclusion, and we strive to be a welcoming, caring, and equitable community where students, faculty, and staff with different backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn, innovate, and work in an environment of respect, and feel empowered to engage in any community conversation.

  3. Changing Lives through Public Engagement: As the land-grant institution of New York, with our main campus within the ancestral homelands of the Cayuga Nation and a long history of national and international connections, we value engagement in our community, our state, and the broader world, learning about their needs and strengths, and applying the knowledge we create for the benefit of society.


Previous Sustainability Plans