Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 58.76
Liaison Krista Bailey
Submission Date July 29, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

Pennsylvania State University
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Susannah Barsom
Associate Director
Center for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome :

Curriculum Development Laboratories: Intercultural Service Experiences in Sustainability

Led by the Center for Sustainability, the Pennsylvania State University has launched and now maintains multiple programs that engage students in applying principles of sustainability in conjunction with external community partners. These initiatives, presently in variable stages of maturity and scale, serve as programs that inform core pedagogical design and sustainability assessment criteria that are applied across the university, most recently as criteria and learning objectives that have been included in the STARS curriculum assessment.

The American Indian Housing Initiative – Multi-semester, multi-course with laboratory
The American Indian Housing Initiative (AIHI) is a multidisciplinary collaborative effort to engage students, volunteers and tribal partners in sustainable building methods and technologies, concepts of sustainability, and home energy usage on American Indian reservations. Entering its eleventh year at Penn State, this culturally rich and socially relevant immersive educational exchange is carried out with a number of partnerships, centering on our decade-long relationship with the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe. The AIHI program is offered to students of all ages and disciplines at Penn State as a three-part (prepare-act-reflect) course series. In the spring, students are introduced to Native American culture, history and current economics in tandem with a hands-on study of sustainable building methods and technologies, home energy leadership and construction project planning. This preparation is followed by a two-week immersive summer experience workshop on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana, where students participate in community-based sustainable construction projects. The reflective component during the fall semester allows students to document, reflect on and assess the project and the experience, and make suggestions for future projects. AIHI also provides opportunities for students from other universities and for volunteers. Please see our website for more information. www.cfs.psu.edu/programs/aihi

Renewable Energy for Central America (RECA) - Single-semester course with laboratory
Renewable Energy for Central America, (RECA) is a national program developed at Penn State in partnership with the National Electrical Contractors Association to foster clean energy solutions in communities of Central America. The research and educational objectives are to provide students with hands-on experiences in the deployment of solar photovoltaic systems in Central American communities for which this technology is appropriate. An additional objective is the cultivation of community expertise in the installation and maintenance of solar energy systems. RECA was launched in March 2009 through a pilot program, “Renew Crew,” in which students prepared for the installation of a 2.5kW solar photovoltaic system in Roatán, Honduras. Now in its third year at Penn State, the program is being adopted by the University of Kansas and California Polytechnic Institute, San Lius Obispo who are developing sister RECA programs in Belize and Costa Rica respectively. http://www.cfs.psu.edu/programs/renewcrew.html

Parks, People, Places South Africa – Single-semester course with laboratory
This is a ten-week, 15-credit program that takes place in the Dwesa-Cwebe nature reserve of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Entering its third year at Penn State, the program encompasses disciplines ranging from earth sciences, ecology and land use management to community relations, livelihood assessment, indigenous knowledge systems and entrepreneurship. It brings together the natural and social sciences in projects that address issues of community and human development, environmental protection and health, water, food and energy security as these relate to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Penn State students travel to South Africa, take classes, and conduct research and service projects in the parks and in the communities that surround them. During the ten weeks, Penn State students are joined at different times by students and staff from several partner universities in South Africa, as well as by nature reserve staff and local community members. The program is directed by Penn State faculty and courses are taught by Penn State faculty, in collaboration with South African faculty. http://gpglobalea.gp.psu.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10228&Type=O&sType=O

Sustainability Research in Jamaica – Summer multi-course with laboratory first-year student LEAP program
Penn State's Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) offers an introduction to college life for students who wish to take courses during the six-week summer session before their first year in college. Each student's schedule consists of two courses (1: either first-year English composition or the introductory public speaking course and 2: a second course from another academic discipline). Instructors for the two courses plan them together, and the composition or public speaking assignments reflect the content of the second course. In the summer of 2011, LEAP, for the first time, offered a sustainability course pairing that included a field trip to Jamaica for service learning projects in sustainability. In addition to class projects, students travel to the island of Jamaica for 14 days, to live in a self-sustaining community and to work on sustainability-related research and service learning projects along with Penn State faculty and local collaborators. While exploring sustainability concepts and applications, students develop skills in rhetoric and composition. They are asked to delve into the arguments that scientists, advisors, legislators, policy makers, reporters and others make regarding the controversies over environmental protection, economic development, and the associated costs to society. In the process, they wade through complex and numerous dissenting viewpoints.
http://www.leap.psu.edu/leap_prides.htm -- See LEAP 097.240 Sustainability Research in Jamaica

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.