Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 79.98
Liaison Lindsey Lyons
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

Dickinson College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Lindsey Lyons
Assistant Director
Center for Sustainability Education
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Campus Engagement:

Student employees, volunteers and graduate apprentices produce food for the campus and community, conduct research, design and build renewable energy systems, and educate the public on Dickinson's 90-acre farm. Students in a wide variety of disciplines learn about renewable energy and sustainable agriculture through living laboratory projects, workshops, and volunteer opportunities. On-site classes and independent research projects give students unique insights into complex mathematics, the role of food in global politics, public art projects, Buddhist philosophies, and more.

The Dickinson College Farm provides food to the campus and local community. The majority of the harvest is sold to the campus Dining Hall, with a significant portion earmarked for the farm’s Campus Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program, a May-November produce subscription that feeds more than 150 families. The farm also sells produce, using student workers, through a bountiful stand at Carlisle’s thriving weekly farmers’ market and donates thousands of pounds of fresh produce to a local food bank, Project S.H.A.R.E.

Through youth programs such as Farm, Cook, Eat, Sustainable Earth Education (SEED), and the hosting of popular food-centered events on campus and in the community, Dickinson College Farm serves as a venue for the Dickinson community and its neighbors to experience a holistic approach to land stewardship rooted in management practices that work to sustain the natural environment.

Examples of outcomes of student research and projects at the farm include a mobile app for data collection that is increasing farm management efficiency and that is now open course marketed to other farmers, an optimization model that is being used to improve crop and pasture rotations, integration of renewable energy systems into the farm, innovations in integrated pest management at the farm, research on biogas production, a solar-powered farm utility vehicle, and an electric tractor.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Public Engagement:

Dickinson students have the opportunity to participate in courses that utilize community-based research pedagogy to engage students in mutually beneficial research projects with community partners. These courses often address sustainability related issues. One of these courses, "Building Sustainable Communities," is focused on advancing sustainability in our community. Working in teams, students partner with community organizations in research that helps to advance landscape conservation, alternative transportation, sustainable recreation options, sustainable food systems, and social capital.

Partner organizations have included the Cumberland County Planning Department, South Mountain Partnership, Westside Neighbors Association, Capital Area Resource Conservation & Development, and the Greater Carlisle Project. One outcome assisted by the community-based research is a successful grant application by the Westside Neighbors Association to renovate a playground in a low-income area of Carlisle, incorporating natural play features and edible landscaping.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Air & Climate:

Students in the Business & Climate Change INBM 300 class consistently explore the wide array of risks and opportunities that climate change presents for business; the many ways that businesses are already responding to climate change; and, perhaps most importantly, how business can lead the effort to mitigate climate change and even contribute to the reversal or drawdown of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Buildings:

We have incorporated sustainability into the statistics curriculum at Dickinson. Probability and Statistics II includes data driven student projects using statistics to explore their “place” at the college; i.e. using various statistical tools to examine the way the students are living and interacting on our residential campus. The students select from a set of variables to examine, e.g. water or power use, waste generation, LEED building comparison and performance, focused on Dickinson's buildings and operations. They then propose a sampling plan and use statistical techniques: ANOVA, regression, hypothesis testing to answer their question(s) of interest. This exploration culminates with a poster presentation at the end of the semester where the students will present their results to each other, to campus stakeholders and other members of the department. These projects should help students gain exposure to sustainability concepts with special emphasis on how their lifestyles and attitudes affect these issues within the context of campus buildings and operations.

Our new LEED platinum residence hall (2019) has provided great data and questions related to buildings, building features, and performance comparisons between LEED and non-LEED construction and operation.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Energy:

Students in the Energy Resources class ERSC 202 class explore the evaluation and exploitation, economics, law, and the environmental impact of non-renewable resources and their alternatives, including geothermal, wind, solar, tidal, and ocean thermal power. The course used the campus as a living laboratory by focusing on the Dickinson Climate Action Plan, analyzing Dickinson's campus energy use, touring campus renewable energy projects and the central energy plant, and conducting personal energy audits. Dickinson's Associate Vice President for Sustainability and Facilities Planning worked with the class for two weeks, and was able to share the newest climate action project data with the students.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Food & Dining:

Students in the Introductory to Food Studies Class FDST 201 regularly use the Dickinson College Farm as an interdisciplinary field site that examines food through biological, cultural, ecological, economic, and other perspectives. The course researched and analyzed questions of hunger, food production/procurement, inequality, ecology, food labor, health, including psychology, and the diversity of ethical, cultural, and spiritual meanings regarding food. The course will include opportunities for students to engage in active observation, experimentation, and hands-on learning through community partnerships and the College Farm. Students learning about production of food at the farm (harvesting), where food is sourced to (procurement/sales data analysis), and also distributed food at the community food bank located on campus.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Grounds:

The Hive engages students, staff, and faculty in learning about sustainability problems and solutions through the direct experience of beekeeping, honey production and sales, pollinator habitat and community building. Two European honey bee hives (Apis mellifera) were installed on campus in Fall 2016, and the Center for Sustainability Education leads a team of volunteer members to assist in every step of the process. Ultimately, learning by doing. The Hive has served as a campus laboratory field site for over a dozen academic courses working to study and advocate for pollinator-friendly grounds policies, building and improving native bee habitats on and off campus, and participating in educational programs on the significance of pollinators, habitats and the challenges facing them. Faculty are active members of The Hive cooperative where they work alongside students and staff to best utilize the campus living laboratory. This work in and our of the classroom helped Dickinson's campus ground become certified as a Bee Campus USA location in 2019 and 2020.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Purchasing?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Purchasing:
---

IIs the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Transportation:

The Center for Sustainability Education funded a professor of Physics, to develop a prototype and convert three bicycles to e-bikes for campus use. The E-Bike project was a student-faulty collaboration, which transferred learning experiences from physics courses involving mechanics, electricity, magnetism, and electronics to real world applications. The project involved modifying bikes from the campus fleet by adding an electric hub motor (a motor that resides inside one wheel), a lithium ion rechargeable battery pack, a control unit, a pedal rotation sensor, and hand-brakes with electric switches. Adjustments to the hand-brakes, front wheel, and fork are needed to fit the new parts. Although an electric motor is added to one wheel, the bike retains its functionality as a regular bicycle. Participants were able to learn about existing sustainable transportation options in the area as well as working to create new interest and opportunities.

The project included over ten students, and three bikes are now available for campus use. This project has been highlighted in our Transportation Justice course which evaluates and analyzes local sustainable transportation options, events, and opportunities. The Transportation Justice course also promoted involvement in a local in local community ride and visited on our campus bicycle cooperative, The Handlebar to ensure students knew of the biking-related resources available to them.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Waste:

Students in the Consumer Culture class (Sociology) will do an analysis of shipping packages quantities and patterns and cardboard waste generation on campus. The course focuses on life cycle analysis of products and will use campus waste data as a foundation for formulating questions.

Additionally, in Fall 2020, the psychology of sustainability first year seminar course used campus waste data to create behavior change campaigns that addresses issues of buying in bulk, ordering less online and buying local, and reducing paper use. The Center for Sustainability Education served as a consultant for the projects which resulted in tangible recommendations for our campus.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Water:

Students in Economics of Natural Resources ECON 332 class explored challenges for achieving water security and sustainable use of our water resources at the local, national, and international level. Students reviewed and analyzed Dickinson's campus water consumption by building.

Additionally, the Alliance for Aquatic Resources Monitoring (ALLARM) has provided capacity building technical assistance to Pennsylvania communities to monitor, protect, and restore local waterways since 1986. ALLARM employs 14 students to work in a living laboratory that provides technical assistance to watershed organizations, community education, and training for volunteer monitoring efforts related to shale gas extraction. ALLARM consistently uses our campus and local community as a living laboratory to explore issues of water quality, water quantity, and storm water management.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Coordination & Planning:

Three students serve on the President's Commission on Environmental Sustainability (PCES), working with faculty members, administrators, staff, and alumni to guide at a strategic level all aspects of Dickinson's sustainability initiatives, monitor progress, and advise the President of the College. The students are mentored by the Director of the Center for Sustainability Education, and have interaction with faculty serving on the committee. As members of the Commission, the students contribute to decision-making that is advancing sustainability at Dickinson, learning first hand about sustainability in higher education. An outcome of students participation on PCES is development of a new Sustainability Dashboard that displays measures of our sustainability performance in a transparent online platform (Dickinson Sustainability Dashboard). Students worked with faculty and staff to identify metrics and collect data.


Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
---

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Investment & Finance:
---

Is the institution utilizing its infrastructure and operations as a living laboratory for applied student learning for sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the projects and how they contribute to understanding or advancing sustainability in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
---

Website URL where information about the institution’s living laboratory program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
---

The Dickinson College campus and communities beyond campus borders are living laboratories for learning about sustainability problems and solutions through direct experience. Dickinson students work with each other, faculty, staff, and community members to identify and define problems, understand their causes, develop solutions, and test their ideas.



At Dickinson, characteristics of sustainability learning laboratories include:

Experiential: Students learn through direct experience outside a traditional classroom setting.

Problem-based: Students engage in learning about an authentic problem, challenge, or opportunity with the purpose of exploring, implementing, and assessing actions for advancing sustainability goals.

Place-based: Problems, challenges, opportunities, and actions are examined and understood within the context of a specific place (e.g. a college campus, a community, a local ecosystem).

Systems-based: Students are challenged to apply systems thinking to consider the interplay of environmental, social, cultural, organizational, and economic aspects of problems and actions.

Action oriented: Develops students as change agents, fomenting action that will make a campus, community, or other place more sustainable.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.