About the Prize
The Sustainability Prize, established in 2009 by The Sustainability Laboratory in collaboration with faculty members from EARTH University in Costa Rica, is awarded to the student project that best exemplifies implementation of The Lab’s “Five Core Principles of Sustainability.” The $10,000 prize is awarded to the winning project in order to support project implementation, with $1,000 earmarked for the high school attended by the prizewinner.
During students’ Third Year, they learn about The Lab’s “Five Core Principles of Sustainability,” which provides a roadmap for developing sustainability practices. Students then have the opportunity to enter a project idea for social entrepreneurship in the prize competition. During The Sustainability Prize Seminar, students present their project ideas, and faculty and students vote on the most promising projects, using The Lab’s principles as a guiding metric. Three to four finalists are chosen, and each are awarded $5,000 from EARTH University to begin implementing their projects..
Finalists will begin implementing their projects in their Fourth Year, with the support and guidance of EARTH faculty. The project that shows the most promise by graduation time will be awarded the $10,000 Sustainability Prize to support continued project implementation.
Since 2009, hundreds of students and faculty members at EARTH University have participated in the Sustainability Prize Seminars, delivered by Dr. Michael Ben-Eli, where they learn about The Lab’s definition of sustainability and the derived Five Core Principles. You can explore this conceptual framework by visiting The Lab’s Approach Page.
The Sustainability Prize Seminar is now included in EARTH’s formal curriculum, and has also become a focal point of EARTH’s Integration Week, a full week of special programming including workshops, mini-internships, and field and community visits. Junior students play a role in providing feedback and evaluations for prize nominees. Professors from different disciplines have become involved, and support the students not only in the organization of the seminar, but also as counselors in the development of student projects. In this way, The Sustainability Prize has become part of the fabric of the EARTH University student experience.
The Sustainability Laboratory was established in 2008 by Dr. Michael Ben-Eli in order to help address the most pressing sustainability issues facing the planet. The Lab is being organized to foster bold experimentation with untested ideas, approaches and technologies, challenging the prevailing models that result in preservation of the status quo.
To guide its activities, The Lab has developed its own unique, action-oriented conceptual framework. Inspired by the work of innovative thinkers such as Buckminster Fuller and Stafford Beer, and synthesized by Dr. Ben-Eli, The Lab’s signature approach is rooted in a system-oriented design strategy, integrating a rigorous definition of sustainability and a derived set of core principles. The Lab favors approaches that take a global perspective, and feature cross-sector and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Applying this holistic framework, The Lab engages in research, development, and education activities focused around key sustainability-related issues. Our growing portfolio of projects demonstrate cutting edge, model approaches to sustainability challenges, applicable on a local, regional, and planetary scale. This is best exemplified by the progress of The Lab’s flagship project, Project Wadi Attir, a Bedouin-led sustainable development project in the Negev desert. To learn more about The Lab, visit our website.
EARTH University’s innovative educational approach has been preparing young people from Latin America, the Caribbean and other regions, including Africa and Asia, to contribute to the sustainable development of their countries and construct a prosperous and just society. EARTH offers a rigorous four-year undergraduate program in agricultural sciences and natural resource management under the guidance of a prestigious, international faculty. The University provides a world-class scientific and technological education that emphasizes values, ethical entrepreneurship, and environmental and social commitment.
EARTH was established by Costa Rican law in 1986 as a private, non-profit, international university and was created thanks to the support of the Costa Rican Government, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The main campus of EARTH University is located in Guácimo, Limón. In 2004, the family of former Costa Rican President, Daniel Oduber Quiros, donated “Hacienda La Flor” to the University, to promote development in the Guanacaste region. Thus, EARTH’s second campus was created.
EARTH University’s curriculum is based on four formative areas: technical and scientific knowledge; personal development, attitudes and values; ethical entrepreneurship; and social and environmental awareness and commitment. The program has been designed to imbue students with the competencies required to respond to the needs of today’s world.
EARTH has extensive experience searching for innovative solutions to challenges in sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation and natural resource management. Research at EARTH is applicable and actively involves both students and faculty. In 2011, more than 1,900 individuals in the communities surrounding EARTH benefited from the Institution’s Community Development Program, which includes a service-learning course where students work with small-scale, local producers on their farms, and with organized groups to promote sustainable community development.