Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.95
Liaison Susan Powers
Submission Date Feb. 12, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Clarkson University
IN-3: Innovation 3

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Susan Powers
Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
The Adirondack Semester immerses students with unique opportunity to explore the people, place and policies of the region

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Clarkson has developed a domestic study semester in the Adirondack Mountains. The motto of the program is "where nature, people, and policy meet." Students take block classes and work on a semester long integrated research project that looks at a sustainability issue in the Adirondack Park from multiple perspectives. Each semester a small group of up to 12 students are in session with a diverse group of Clarkson faculty with specific interests, experience and scholarly work directly related to the Adirondack Park. Our mission is to deliver a dynamic blend of traditional and experiential education in an intimate and community-based learning environment. Students strive to answer broad questions concerning the relationship of social, economic and environmental impacts of the Adirondack Park. They are absorbed in interdisciplinary courses in the natural and social sciences and emerge with critical thinking and collaborative skills that prepare them to analyze complex problems and provide solutions related to environmental, social, and economic sustainability. The 6-million acres of the Adirondacks are a unique ecosystem to study. It is one of the few parks that blend a concentration of human development with large tracts of wilderness in a roughly 50-50 split of public and private land. As students are immersed in this "great experiment" of the Adirondacks they explore contentious issues on the line between environmental preservation and economic development. Each semester students focus their learning on a specific Integrated Research Project. The topics have been as as diverse as finding a use for an abondoned manufacturing facility, developing a public health plan for Lyme disease as it encroaches into the park, and designing a hut-to-hut hiking system around Saranac Lake. In each case, the team tackling the problem includes an interdisciplinary group of science, engineering, business and social science majors. The students in our program have presented their research to professional organizations such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Adirondack Park Agency, and a number of non-profit organizations. It is very rare for students to have so much interaction with professional organizations. And unlike other domestic study program, the Clarkson Adirondack Semester is unique in that it exposes students so holistically to real world environmental projects while maintaining professional and scientific rigor, including engineering credits.
+ Date Revised: April 19, 2016

A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):
The integrated research projects are of significant interest to the community and generate a fair amount of debate and dialogue. So far 6 classes have gone through the semester long program. The outcome of these semesters has been real findings that are used by our stakeholders in the Adirondacks. In addition, when students return to the main campus many of them take on leadership positions. Many of the students have described how the Adirondack Semester has impacted their world view in a very positive way.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research No
Campus Engagement No
Public Engagement Yes
Air & Climate No
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy No
Grounds No
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste No
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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