The application of ecosystem services in higher education planning: Very high research institutes
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The question this study aims to answer is “Are ecosystem services being utilized within campus planning frameworks to address human health and environmental performance?” and then –“If yes- is there an effective measurement plan associated with said services to measure success?” To answer this question, an extensive literature review was conducted to understand the current state of ecosystem services in planning in general, and planning in higher education. Through the review, it is established that including ecosystem services in planning requires a more intense level of valuation, beyond economics. Also, the most successful plans include stakeholder engagement during goal setting. Measuring the outcomes of plans is an emerging best practice in the planning industry. Next a plan evaluation index was developed and applied to a sample of very high research higher education planning documents. The evaluation uncovered that while certain R1 campuses are broadly including ecosystem services in their planning efforts, they have not yet mastered the implementation or measuring of these services. The ultimate goal of this effort is to connect research to practice. If the theory and existing analyses are better understood, then practical methods should be identified to apply to higher education planning; methods that will leverage environmental performance to positively impact human and broader ecological health.