Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.61
Liaison Kate Ullman
Submission Date Feb. 26, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Northland College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Scott Grinnell
Professor of Physics
Academic
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

Northland's distinctive environmental liberal arts curriculum emphasizes student engagement with the campus and surrounding communities through applied learning. Classroom work, research opportunities, and work study positions are all directed towards engaging students in the use of the campus as a living laboratory across a broad spectrum of sectors. For example, the Atmospheric Science program uses the campus equipment to monitor meteorological data; the Natural Resources and Biology programs monitor water quality, invasive species, native plantings, local animal populations, forest health, wildlife, and others on and off campus; interdisciplinary programs involve students in correlating lightning-strike frequency with regional temperature increases, monitoring the effects of severe weather on forest health, analyzing chemical constituents entering Lake Superior, tracking pollution in air and water, modeling atmospheric motions and currents in Lake Superior, assessing local factors influencing climate change, and many other projects. In addition, Northland's six Sustainability Centers collectively engage students in a variety of projects both on campus and in the surrounding area. Students and faculty regularly report the results of these projects at professional conferences, as classroom presentations, and via posters in the hallways.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

The College monitors in real-time the electricity usage of its two largest and most energy-intensive buildings on campus: the Ponzio Student Center, and the Center for Science and the Environment. Students will use this data, along with statistics, principles of economics, scientific concepts, and ideas of sustainability to assess ways to improve our sustainability by reducing the energy consumption of the College's buildings. Students sometimes report their analysis in courses such as ECN 263 "Economics in Context".


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

Since buildings represent the College's greatest energy consumption, the answer above also applies here. In addition, at least one faculty leads periodic academic courses that engage students in a variety of energy-related projects, including installing photovoltaic arrays, constructing solar food dehydrators, installing living roofs (to reduce the energy consumption of a building), reducing embodied energy through the recycling of old barn boards, and others. These projects are highly hands-on, where students do nearly all of the work themselves, and are part of a formal credit-bearing class.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

As part of Northland's innovative Foods Center, student workers engage their peers in raising awareness and interest in processing and preserving local fruits and vegetables. The campus engagement program also fosters faculty involvement to utilize the food lab as an educational resource for in-class learning and academic projects. Students work to assess progress toward stated food & dining goals, engage in plate waste awareness competitions, and so forth.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

Student/faculty projects include identifying and removing invasive species on campus, the planting of native species, the use of rain gardens for storm water mitigation, and so forth. In addition, student projects include a turf program to reduce fertilizer and herbicide use, while promoting water infiltration and soil health through aeration. In addition, the College's forest lands are used in Biology and Natural Resources courses (e.g. BIO 128, BIO 222, BIO 234, BIO 328, NRS 361, NRS 347, NRS 425) for laboratory activities on ecosystem processes (micrometeorology, decomposition, carbon cycling, biogeochemistry, succession, and community diversity), plant identification, deer and snowshoe hare impacts, forest management projects, student research projects, and final practicums.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:

Students record, evaluate, and critique the purchasing of janitorial supplies, paper products, and other College products for use in their economics class.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

Student projects include working with the local Native American tribes to teach bicycle repair and maintenance. Students present the benefits and results of projects like this either as research projects or presentations. In addition, students may receive credit in coursework for creating, applying, and evaluating surveys that apply to transportation.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

Students access the College's waste streams, research the end results of the waste, and make recommendations for minimizing waste and redirecting what is unavoidable along more environmentally-sound and sustainable pathways. This is covered in at least two majors: economics and sustainable community development.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

The Zero Stormwater Discharge Initiative has linked the problem of storm water runoff and pollution to student learning opportunities through classes (Concepts of Biology for the last 5 years and Chemistry of Natural Waters for at least 1 year), two capstone projects, and through model-data analysis and design improvements to campus storm water infrastructure. This spring (May 2018), students will design a rain garden solution for the Food Systems building, another use of the campus as a living laboratory.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:

The Outdoor Education program regularly uses the campus as a living laboratory in a variety of their courses to train students to acquire skills in coordinating activities, planning appropriate use of space and equipment, following safety protocals, and informing the community of anticipated outcomes. Here are some specific examples:

OED 210: Inclusive Outdoor Education
Students research, plan and develop a series of site renovation design suggestions which balance conflicting legal mandates from the Architectural Barriers Act / Americans with Disabilities Act and the Historical Preservation Act for the ongoing structural rehabilitation work being done at Forest Lodge, a satellite campus of Northland College.

OED 262: Outdoor Leadership
Students plan and then implement a 30 day backcountry expedition. Planning includes coordinating all backcountry living and travel related equipment needs for the class, planning all backcountry rations, planning the expedition route, as well as coordinating daily travel/living routines.

OED 362/363: Apostle Islands School
Students plan, coordinate, and facilitate five 3-day/2-night backcountry residential outdoor education programs on Stockton Island for regional middle school students. This includes planning the schedule for the program, planning all rations, planning activities and lessons, and then coordinating the delivery of each residential program. All students engage in all aspects of overall Island School planning and then each student serves as the program coordinator, supervising and leading their class peers for one of the five programs.

OED 364: Advanced Program Design
Students plan, implement and coordinate a series of weekend outdoor recreation and education excursions for their Northland College community peers. Additionally, students plan and coordinate a series of 3-day/2-night residential outdoor education programs at Forest Lodge for a diversity of urban and rural elementary students.

OED 381: Outdoor Education Teaching Techniques
Students plan and coordinate a series of 3-day/2-night residential outdoor education programs at Forest Lodge for a diversity of urban and rural elementary students.

OED 490: Independent Study
Two OED students are planning a therapeutic outdoor program to educate the Northland community about elements of winter wellness through the lens of combatting seasonal affective disorder through an evening on-campus workshop followed by a weekend retreat at Forest Lodge which will utilize elements of Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Hygge (Danish coziness) as therapeutic approaches. These students are conducting research into these two therapeutic approaches, planning the entire program and meal plan, creating the assessment instruments to measure program outcomes, and coordinating guest speakers, equipment rental, travel, and program marketing.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:

Northland College offers many such projects. Here are three examples:
In SCD 110 "Introduction to Sustainable Community Development", students learn about the history of discrimination in housing and land use and its implications on society, the economy, and the environment. Students assess issues of equity in housing and economic opportunity, and consider how sustainable forms of development might address the legacy of racial and ethnic discrimination in housing and land use. This is done through assignments, projects, surveys and presentations.

In SCD 220 "Sustainable Community Planning", students work in groups on mock or real planning projects within the surrounding community to address a dearth of affordable housing options within the Chequamegon Bay area, as well as address the housing needs of an increasing diverse Northwoods community. Last year, students developed a plan for an active student lounge/pub on campus with the stated goal, among others, of bridging divides among student groups and enhancing communication with the campus and community.

In SCD 412 "Advanced Community Planning Studio", students work on projects that have potential community impact. Last year students submitted a development plan to the City of Ashland that featured an affordable housing component, a large day care, and other community spaces aimed at enhancing social equity. Moreover, another group worked on a feasibility study on worker-owned cooperatives in the spirit of the "Cleveland Model," which seeks to build community wealth and address social and economic problems, particularly in communities and cities where minority populations and poor populations have been left behind despite overall economic expansion.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:

Students engage the public throughout the Chequamegon Bay Area when completing assigned surveys and a variety of projects administered through several courses in the Sustainable Community Development major. See Diversity and Affordability above.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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