Fair Trade

UW Oshkosh: The First Fair Trade University in the US in 2008


As part of our fair trade commitment, we:

  • sell fair trade products wherever possible (check the Corner Store, Bookstore, & Mi Taza satellite cafes!)
  • use fair trade products at internal events (eg coffee & tea at catered events)
  • educate campus about fair trade through media, events, class curricula
  • have a committee made up of students, faculty, and non-academic staff
  • have a written resolution and procurement policy
  • promote the international fair trade campaign and its principle

Fair Trade FAQs
Why did UW Oshkosh decide to become fair trade?

We have been committed to sustainability throughout the past two decades! We also recognize our responsibility to take a stand for social justice and ecological integrity. Supporting fair trade is just one extension of those commitments.

What was the process of becoming a fair trade university?

We started selling fair trade products and had our first Fair Trade Festival in 2005. In the fall of 2007 we started a campaign to become a Fair Trade University. This involved shaping a proposal based on existing criteria and with the help of Fair Trade Towns, presenting it to the campus community and administration for feedback, lots of revisions, legal checks, approval by all 4 campus governance groups over the summer of 2008 and finally an announcement of our fair trade status by the chancellor on September 2, 2008. We even received a congratulatory letter from Senator Herb Kohl!

Throughout the process we also educated the campus community about fair trade and worked with our dining services provider, Sodexo, to bring more fair trade to campus and set goals.

Is there a governing body that bestows the status of Fair Trade University?

Fair Trade Colleges and Universities supports Fair Trade campaigns, decides which campuses get Fair Trade status, and monitors those campuses to ensure the integrity and progress in their Fair Trade status.

Are there constraints in purchasing Fair Trade products?

Yes. In some cases, we may be legally bound to contracts with suppliers who do not have Fair Trade products. In other cases, certain types of Fair Trade products simply might not be available yet, although there are more becoming available every year. And it might be that in a few cases a Fair Trade product is so much more expensive that its cost is prohibitive. This is why in our declaration we use the term “whenever possible.” We have to be realistic about constraints, otherwise we’d end up saying we will do the impossible. At the same time, we must keep pushing not only ourselves but also our suppliers to avoid using these constraints as an excuse for not doing whatever we can.

What are the costs to the university?

There are no fees to participate in the Fair Trade Colleges & Universities program, but someone on the ground at UWO has to do the legwork so we hire interns, creating student jobs right on campus! As for ordering fair trade on a large scale, it’s actually not that much. Sodexo estimated that offering Fair Trade coffee at the student dining hall would cost students around an additional $1.00 total per year. Individual cups of coffee at satellite stations may be slightly more, but some of those costs are also internalized by dining services. As more Fair Trade products become available, other items may have more of a cost difference. This is something we will consider & constantly evaluate. Ultimately, we believe that if paying a few cents more each time you buy a fair trade item makes the world a more equitable place, we should all make that investment.

Fair Trade Resources
The Basics
The Products
  • Apparel
  • Bananas 
  • Cocoa
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
Courses, Texts

Geography 311-Economic Geography explores “how economic activity shapes out understanding of human-environment systems. [Students] will examine core economic concepts of production, surplus, labor, exchange of goods and services, and commodities within the context of different economic, political and social systems to better understand the costs and benefits associated with each.” The class is cross-listed with environmental studies as ES 311 and uses Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities by JK Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy. 


A list of feature-length films and documentaries is available here

Fair Trade: Improving Lives
Duration: 2:04
Content: Fair Trade USA CEO Paul Rice talking about how Fair Trade improves the lives of producers in the developing world, with videos of producers at work.
Produced by: Fair Trade Certified (Fair Trade USA)

Fair Trade: Protecting the Environment 
Duration: 2:02
Content: Fair Trade USA CEO Paul Rice talking about how Fair Trade protects the environment, with videos of producers at work. 
Produced by: Fair Trade Certified (Fair Trade USA)

Fair Trade: Quality Products
Duration: 1:55.
Content: Fair Trade USA CEO Paul Rice talking about Fair Trade’s goal of creating high quality products, with videos of producers at work.
Produced by: Fair Trade Certified (Fair Trade USA)

Fair Trade: The Power of the Consumer
Duration: 1:34.
Content: Fair Trade USA CEO Paul Rice talking about how Fair Trade gives the consumer economic and social power, with videos of producers at work.
Produced by: Fair Trade Certified (Fair Trade USA) 

Fair Trade: Every Purchase Matters 
Duration: 1:14.
Content: Animated feature on the impact of consumers on the lives of producers and the environment 
Produced by: Fair Trade Certified (Fair Trade USA)

The Merits of Fair Trade – Fair Trade Colleges & Universities
Duration: 2:05.
Content: Animated feature about how campuses can support the Fair Trade movement 
Produced by: Fair Trade Colleges & Universities campaign

Skoll World Forum: Uncommon Heroes
Duration: 7:42. 
Content: Video of the impact of Fair Trade on the lives of producers and the environment, with commentary by Fair Trade USA CEO Paul Rice. 
Produced by: Fair Trade USA (formerly known as TransFair USA)

Fair Trade at UWO

Read the resolution here!


2016-17 Academic Year

2015-16 Academic Year


In 2011, the Campus Sustainability Council approved a Fair Trade Committee as one of its operating committees. Read a current description of the committee’s responsibilities and goals.


Products Available

  • Coffee: all Aspretto brand coffee served in Blackhawk, Mi Taza locations, and catered events; some Starbucks brand coffee including espresso-based drinks (make sure you look for the Cafe Estima blend)
  • Tea: some vareties of Aspretto and Tazo individually bagged teas; Numi ready-to-drink bottled tea at C-Store
  • Chocolate: Divine Chocolate at C-Store
  • Condoms: made with FT rubber, at C-store
  • Handicrafts: pottery, purses, jewelry, and other crafts are available at University Books and More.
Products, Brands and Shopping
Whether it’s online or in stores, know where to look for products that will benefit you and families around the world.

You can find Fair Trade retailers, brands, and product lists through the various certification organization’s websites, such as the Fair Trade USA website.

Worker Rights Consortium
A variety of documents about the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC).
General introduction to WRC

An introduction to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC)

WRC cases against Russell Athletic & Nike

New York Times article (Feb. 23, 2009) about the University of Michigan ending its licensing agreement with Russell Athletic after an investigation by WRC

New York Times article (Nov. 17, 2009) about the victory of the WRC in the case of Russell Athletic

New York Times article (July 26, 2010) about UW Madison severing its license agreement with Nike after a WRC investigation, and then Nike agreeing to help Honduran workers

Local coverage of the same event by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

UWO Affiliation with WRC

UWO OSA Assembly resolution 12-002 on WRC (April 2012)


Campus Sustainability Office

Sage Hall
Rooms 4475 and 4477
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Social Media


Phone: (920) 424-1191
Email: Brad Spanbauer, spanbauerb@uwosh.edu