Hellooooo March Madness! 

How’s your bracket doing? Hope it’s better than mine…. woof.

We are officially in Sweet Sixteen territory and the next round of games kicks off today. Of all the teams playing, only two have both their men’s and women’s teams advancing to the Sweet Sixteen: Notre Dame and Syracuse. 

While all teams engage their students differently during March Madness, Notre Dame and Syracuse are really knocking it out of the park with their sustainability campaigns and programming. If you’re looking for a good way to engage your own student body, take a few notes from these two teams. 

Notre Dame: Home of the #SustainaSelfie


If Notre Dame does one thing really well, it’s making use of technology and campus events to engage students in sustainability conversations. This month, they launched Megawatt Madness, a March Madness-themed campaign to encourage students to save electricity.  

The goal of the campaign is to see which dorm building can save the most electricity by the end of the month, and they’re taking to social media to get students involved. A real-time energy ticker sits on the homepage of Notre Dame’s sustainability website (in case you’re wondering, Carroll Hall is killing it with a 31% reduction in usage) and students can earn points for their dorm by spreading the word of the campaign, hosting events, and sharing selfies. 

The Office of Sustainability hosted challenges through the hashtags #sustainaselfie and #savelikeachampion, where students could post selfies on Notre Dame’s Facebook page of themselves doing their part to save energy. They are also running contests for the best energy saving memes. 

On top of all of this, they are also educating students on energy vampires and encouraging them to unplug electronics and appliances that aren’t in use while they’re away from their dorm. AND, they’re hosting weekly “lights out” events, like a glow-in-the-dark frisbee game and bonfire party. 

This might be one of the best uses of social media I’ve seen on a college campus to get students involved in sustainability efforts. Well played, Notre Dame!


Syracuse: Home of the Sketchbook Dialog 


Syracuse may not be hosting a series of events for March Madness, but they such are doing their part to make Syracuse one of the most sustainable campuses in the U.S. and get students involved in conversations. Syracuse’s Climate Action Plan - their plan to become a carbon neutral campus by 2040 -  is a big driver of their work on campus, from campus building upgrades to recycling programs.

One way Syracuse is engaging students, though, is by hosting a Sketchbook Dialog networking event for students on campus. It is a casual-style networking event where students can share with other students, staff, and community members the sustainability projects they’re working on using their phones, tablets, or laptops. 

Their next event will be held on April 5 and is focused on the Clean Power Plan. For this event, Syracuse is bringing in public officials, builders, architects, and businessmen and women to join the conversation around state plans to meet U.S. climate commitments. 

The Sketchbook Dialog event is a great way for students to connect with other students, policy makers, and staff to share their voice in a comfortable and casual environment. Oh, and did we mention that the Syracuse Sustainability Facebook page is jam packed with good information for students?

Who we're rooting for

Kari's alma mater, Army, was knocked out in the first round, but she is pulling for her beloved Tennessee in the women's bracket and Duke in the men's. And as a DePaul alum, I’ll be repping blue and red for the women’s basketball team as they take on Oregon State this weekend. Happy Sweet Sixteen-ing!

Did your team make it to the Sweet Sixteen? If so, what are they doing to engage students in sustainability conversations? 

Images: 1) Flickr/Chad Cooper 2) Flickr/Charles Pence 3) Flickr/Pherit