Penn State ranks 4th in US in 2024 QS World University Rankings: Sustainability | Penn State University (2024)

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University places 37th internationally out of 1,403 participating institutions in the second year of the rankings

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State tied for No. 4 among 210 ranked universities in the United States in the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability for 2024, released Dec. 5. Internationally, the University ranked No. 37 out of 1,403 participating institutions worldwide.

Penn State also tied with the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for No. 1 among Big Ten institutions and No. 2 among all U.S. public universities.

The 2024 rankings provide a framework to show how universities are taking action to tackle the world’s greatest environmental, social and governance challenges, according to international rankings organization Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

Penn State’s commitment to sustainability is reflected across University operations, its research enterprise, and through course-based and experiential learning opportunities for students. Examples of the University’s sustainability efforts can be found in Penn State Sustainability’s flagship programming, which includes the Sustainable Communities Collaborative, Local Climate Action Program and Sustainable Labs Program.

“We’re pleased to acknowledge Penn State’s continued strong placement in the QS World University Rankings,” said Lara Fowler, chief sustainability officer and director of Penn State Sustainability. “Our enduring success in the field of sustainability is due to the continued commitment and unwavering dedication that our University community invests in this cause. This important work — driven by students, faculty, staff, administrators and community partners — extends its impact not only across each of our 24 campuses, but also reaches into both state and global communities we are embedded within.”

The second year of the sustainability rankings reflects more than twice the number of participating institutions, as well as an evolution in QS’s methodology, based on feedback in response to the 2023 rankings, in which Penn State placed No. 38 globally.

The global ranking combines three categories to arrive at one overall international “Sustainability” assessment. These categories are: “Social Impact,” where Penn State ranked No. 19 globally; “Environmental Impact,” where the University ranked No. 66; and “Governance,” a new category for the 2024 rankings, where Penn State ranked No. 44.

“This recognition serves as a testament to our commitment to fostering a global perspective in our University-wide response to sustainability challenges,” said Roger Brindley, vice provost for Penn State Global. “As we work to advance solutions, we must continue centering engagement with international viewpoints, collaborating across borders, and tackling the global challenges that define our interconnected world.”

Environmental Impact comprises 45% of the overall ranking, Social Impact 45%, and Governance 10%, with each of the three categories focused on a series of performance lenses under which universities are ranked:

  • Environmental Impact is focused on environmental education, research and sustainability.
  • Social Impact is focused on employability and outcomes, equality, health and well-being, impact of education and knowledge exchange.
  • The new indicator, Governance, assesses “good governance,” which, according to QS’s methodology, “recognizes universities who have good governance embedded throughout their policies, procedures and strategy.”

Penn State’s highest rankings among these performance lenses were “Environmental Research” (tied for No. 23 globally), “Knowledge Exchange” (No. 31), and “Employability and Outcomes/Opportunities” (tied for No. 33). The University also performed in the top 100 globally in “Equality,” “Environmental Education,” and “Health and Well-Being.”

"We are proud of Penn State's continued strong showing in the QS rankings for sustainability. This achievement reflects our unwavering commitment to addressing the most pressing environmental, social and governance challenges facing our world," said Andrew Read, Penn State’s interim senior vice president for research. "Together, we are making a meaningful impact not only within our Commonwealth Campuses but also on a statewide and global scale. Sustainability is not just a goal for us; it's a way of life that we are proud to embrace and promote."

According to QS, the “World University Ranking: Sustainability” system is based on a framework of environmental, social and governance challenges through research, teaching and community engagement. The organization engages more than 40 world-leading experts across 20 countries on the QS Rankings Advisory Board, and is partnered with Elsevier, Yale University, and the Academic Freedom Index regarding data analyses.

Earlier this year, Penn State ranked No. 3 in the U.S. and No. 40 globally in the 2023 Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, which assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (read more about Penn State's progress on the SDGs).

To learn more about Penn State’s sustainability initiatives, visit sustainability.psu.edu, contact sustainability@psu.edu or follow @sustainpsu on LinkedIn, X/Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Penn State Sustainability events can be found on the events calendar or subscribe to Mainstream e-news.

Penn State ranks 4th in US in 2024 QS World University Rankings: Sustainability | Penn State University (2024)
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