Sterling College Earns a Top Spot in Sierra Magazine’s 2019 Ranking of America’s “Cool Schools”

For the fourth year in a row, Sterling College was awarded a spot in the Top 20 in Sierra magazine’s “Cool Schools,” the recently released ranking of North America’s greenest colleges and universities. Sterling College placed No. 11 for its deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing the climate emergency and encouraging environmental responsibility through its curriculum and on-campus operations. The College placed No. 1 for the Food & Dining subcategory.

The Cool Schools ranking is among the most well-known and prestigious sustainability rankings in higher education and this year, Sierra received submissions from a record 282 schools across the United States and Canada. Using a customized scoring system, Sierra’s researchers ranked colleges and universities based on academic criteria like environmentally-focused curriculum, student engagement with environmental activism, operations such as renewable energy generation and waste management and schools’ planning and administrative standards. 

“We’re inspired by the creative and innovative ways colleges and universities across North America are working to tackle the climate crisis and move toward a sustainable future,” said Jason Mark, Sierra magazine’s editor in chief, in a recent statement. “Each year, our rankings have shown increased commitments to clean energy, more creativity on waste reduction and involvement from a greater geographic range of schools.”

“We are proud to be recognized for our sustainability efforts and achievements on campus and in our curriculum,” said Christina Goodwin ‘02, Dean of Advancement & Alumni Relations. Sterling College uses education as a force to address ecological and social problems like the climate emergency and loss of biodiversity, and our graduates are prepared to effectively respond to these critical issues to be leaders in the communities in which they live.”

The “Cool Schools” No. 11 ranking adds to a recent list of honors for Sterling, which includes a gold rating from AASHE’s STARS program and Top Performer status in food/dining (No. 2), curriculum (No. 7), and overall for a baccalaureate institution (No. 3) in AASHE’s 2019 Sustainable Campus Index. Sterling was the first college to divest from fossil fuels in Vermont and among the first in the country, and the college’s continued dedication to sustainability is expressed in its recently announced 10-year strategic initiative, which commits to preparing knowledgeable, skilled and responsible leaders to face the ecological crises caused by unlimited growth and consumption that threatens the future of the planet. 

The full ranking of 282 colleges and universities, including each school’s completed questionnaire, is online at

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