A picture of Tower Hall

San José State University’s streak of impressive showings in national and international rankings continues with today’s release of the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings. SJSU finished in the top 30 among U.S. institutions and top 500 worldwide.

The third edition of the worldwide rankings — which measure university progress around Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — included SJSU for the first time. SDGs were adopted by all member states of the United Nations in 2015 in an effort to establish a global partnership to end poverty and other deprivations while also preserving the planet. Universities can participate in some or all of the 17 SDGs.

SJSU participated in five SDGs: Good Health and Wellbeing; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Life Below Water; Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; and Partnership for the Goals — a mandatory category for all 1,115 institutions across the globe who participated in the rankings.

“Sustainability and equity remain two of the big priorities of our time, not only here at our campus but also around the world,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. 

“Our good showing in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings reflects how SJSU has become an innovative leader in these areas. It is a tribute to our interdisciplinary approach and commitment on the part of so many in our campus community.”

Along with continued progress in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion — including action steps the university is taking to address systemic racismPapazian said SJSU is striving toward a future whereby all students graduate with a firm understanding of what it means to be sustainable. This entails students learning through curricular, and co-curricular, activities how their actions and choices can have a positive or negative impact on the sustainability of our environment. 

The university is also working to help faculty members incorporate sustainability into their curricula, she added.

The results

SJSU’s best showing was in the Life Below Water SDG, finishing in the top 10 in the U.S. and #62 in the world. In this category, THE focuses on how “universities are protecting and enhancing aquatic ecosystems like lakes, ponds, streams, wetlands, rivers, estuaries and the open ocean.” SJSU’s scores in water-sensitive waste disposal and research — led primarily by Moss Landing Marine Laboratories — helped elevate the university high in the rankings.

“SJSU is truly transformative for students, faculty and staff, not only in the classroom but also for our communities and the environments we live in,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino, Jr., who, along with SJSU’s Office of Institutional Research, led the charge in submission of materials for the ranking. 

“This ranking is a testament to the partnerships we continue to foster and grow and the impact we are leaving behind for not only this generation, but future generations as well.”

San José State finished in the top 15 in the U.S. in Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and top 25 in Sustainable Cities and Communities. Among participants worldwide, SJSU was in the top 200 in both categories.

According to THE, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions focused on “universities’ research on law and international relations, their participation as advisers for government and their policies on academic freedom.” 

SJSU’s university governance measures and work with local, state and national governments played a role in the top 15 U.S. ranking.

Sustainable Cities and Communities, according to THE, highlights the “interaction between universities and their communities, urban and rural” and how higher education institutions must “act as custodians of heritage and environment in their communities, a sustainable community must have access to its history and culture in order to thrive.” 

SJSU’s expenditures and support in the arts and heritage were the strongest factors in the ranking.

This is the first major ranking for SJSU in 2021. Last year, SJSU was named the #1 Most Transformative University by Money magazine based on the magazine’s exclusive value-added scores for graduation rates, post-graduation earnings and student loan repayment.