Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 75.93
Liaison Merry Rankin
Submission Date Aug. 30, 2013
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Iowa State University
ER-12: Sustainability Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Merry Rankin
ISU Director of Sustainability
Facilities Planning & Management
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer a program that meets the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive experience(s) offered by the institution:

The ISU College of Design offers a program called PLaCE (Partnering Landscape and Community Enhancement), which aims to enhance and promote the quality and character of Iowa's landscapes and communities. ISU Extension Community and Economic Development and the College of Design's Institute for Design Research and Outreach (IDRO) invite Iowa communities and nonprofit organizations to submit applications for project ideas that might provide quality learning experiences for Design students and faculty. Past PLaCE projects have included city and county comprehensive plans, wayfinding studies, Main Street graphic design plans, concept plans for city parks and GIS-based planning and modeling.

Another experience offered through ISU’s College of Design is the Bridge Studio, which is an interdisciplinary upper level elective studio at Iowa State University for undergraduate and graduate students that engages aspects of design practice not typically encountered in design studios while also serving unmet needs of local communities. Students work in collaborative teams with interns from local firms, consulting practitioners, and a range of building industry professionals to develop projects for organizations and communities not normally served by the design professions. Integrating environmentally and socially sustainable design within economic realities is the primary mechanism through which this work occurs.
Finally, the College of Design offers its Town/Craft program, which combines the resources of the cultural studies of Hometown Perry, Iowa, the multidimensional outreach network of Iowa State University Extension, and the students, staff and faculty of the College of Design into a comprehensive vehicle for envisioning a sustainable future for Iowa towns and surrounding landscapes. Town/Craft pursues its mission through a series of conferences, projects, exhibits, publications and consultations that will focus on the various challenges and opportunities that face the historic culture of our small communities. The center strives to include the knowledge, wisdom and creative energy of the arts, sciences, liberal studies, politics, economics, entrepreneurship and, most important, the real and virtual citizenry of Iowa towns as it pursues its mission.

The ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences also has a program called, “Education and Resiliency Through Horticulture”, otherwise known as EARTH. The program takes ISU students each semester to the U.S. Virgin Islands to teach food production to the students of Gifft Hill, a K-12 school.
The ISU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering department offers a class where students focus primarily on Brazil and its advances in agricultural development. The course is split into two parts: A class is taken at Iowa State and following that semester, students travel to Brazil for a hands-on immersive experience.

Service Learning:

The ISU Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods offers its Service Learning and School Garden Program, which began in Kamuli District of Uganda in 2006. It brings together undergraduate students from ISU and Makerere University for five weeks of intercultural immersion. Since 2006 84 students and 8 faculty members from ISU and Makerere University participated in the service-learning program.

Another program offered through the ISU Student Activities Center is Alternative Breaks. Students are placed in teams and immersed in communities to engage in service learning during university breaks. Students perform short-term projects for community agencies and learn about various social issues.
Iowa State also has a service-learning program called the Skunk River Navy, associated with the biology department. The program has been active since 1998, and brings students together to clean the Skunk River in Ames, while learning about and experiencing issues such as water quality, organismal diversity and land stewardship. The goals of the Skunk River Navy include providing ISU students with a chance to learn more about the biology of Iowa, making a positive contribution to their local community, and improving the aesthetic quality of the Skunk River and its tributaries by removal of trash.
Furthermore, the Iowa State College of Human Sciences participates in an annual “Day of Caring,” which is in its 14th year and is sponsored by the United Way. The goals of the program include students becoming stewards of the campus, students developing a sense of community, and students becoming more aware of local volunteer opportunities. Approximately 300 students have participated each year for the past four years.
Finally, the ISU Honors program, in collaboration with the ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, offers a study abroad service-leaning program in Belize. This spring break trip allows students to work on cleaner-burning stove installation and on solar latrines. Last year 15 students participated in this experience.

Iowa State also has programs available to students and faculty through its chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW). With a focus on both local and international issues, projects have been completed in Uganda with the design of bio-gas digesters and rainwater harvesting tanks. The students have initiated their projects in other countries as well, including India and Nicaragua, implementing solar energy, creating a way to store figs to prevent rotting via a cabinet-style fruit dryer, and distributing water using drip-irrigation systems and ram pumps. ESW has also worked on promoting sustainability on campus through solar street lighting, constructing a greenhouse, and in performing energy audits of campus buildings.

Iowa State University architecture students have also worked on creating a community center out of recycled shipping containers for a Haitian village. This is organized by a student club called Design Across Boundaries. The club also collaborated closely with a faculty member in the College of Design.

Architecture students also attended Summer Academy Berlin, studying issues of climate change and sustainable urban development. This was a month-long program, in which 11 ISU students participated. The academy concluded with an exhibition featuring students' work.

Finally, Global Mamas in Cape Coast, Ghana, partnering with apparel merchandising, design and production majors, have aided women in Africa to become economically independent. ISU students have interned with Global Mamas since 2010. This fair trade apparel company has allowed students to gain hands–on experiences in product development, creating motifs for batik textiles and designing apparel and accessories for Global Mamas catalogs.

+ Date Revised: June 26, 2014

The website URL where information about the immersive experience is available:

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