The actor/director was presented with the school's inaugural Robert Redford Award for Engaged Artists, a new accolade recognising his work in film as well as his role as a social activist.
Paying tribute to Redford, Madeline Puzo, the dean of USC's School of Theater, said, "The Robert Redford Award for Engaged Artists honours an individual who has used his or her fame to increase public awareness of issues that are of vital importance to us all.
"Robert Redford truly embodies all that an 'engaged artist' represents. He is a distinguished actor, an Academy Award-winning director, and ardent conservationist, philanthropist and environmentalist, a man who stands for social responsibility and political involvement and an artist and businessman who is a staunch supporter of uncompromised creative expression."
The award, presented to Redford at a Los Angeles fundraiser, came just days after the close of his annual Sundance Film Festival, which brings independent films to the attention of major distributors.