Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 67.88
Liaison Krista Bailey
Submission Date Sept. 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Pennsylvania State University
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that is one week or more in length?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution, including how each program addresses the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability:

Penn State offers a number of courses with sustainability-focused immersive experiences. Listed below are some examples:

A summer program for incoming freshman - Sustainability Research in Jamaica (EM SC 100S) - introduces students to basic concepts of sustainability principles and provides them with tools to aid in understanding the challenges of sustainable development. Students then travel to Jamaica for 7 days to live in a self-sustaining community, work on sustainability related research and service learning projects along with Penn State faculty and local collaborators.

The Adventure Literature series of courses - offered as ENGL 181 - explores the relationship between culture and nature through reading and place-based experiences. In one course, Sailing the Chesapeake: Cultural and Natural Landscapes, students read classic texts about the Bay while participating in a series of weekend trips meant to deepen their knowledge of the Bay and its watershed. In another, The Beach: Cultural Artifact/ Environmental Reality, students read and study the nature and culture of the shore, with specific attention to the South Carolina Low Country.

GEOG 493, Sustainability Issues Across the Americas, is a service learning experience based on an interdisciplinary team-based, problem-solving, project-driven approach to sustainability issues. Students travel to Peru for 3.5 weeks and investigate the human health and happiness, environmental, and economic dimensions of critical issues such as water resources, gold mining, sustainable development, biodiversity, ecotourism, and human migrations.

Students enrolled in ME 442/ 443, Advanced Vehicle Design, participate in the EcoCAR Challenge, where student teams construct vehicles that employ innovative technologies to reduce greenhouse emissions and petroleum consumption while maintaining consumer acceptability and usability.

The Parks and People program integrates teaching, research and service across multiple disciplines related to the management of protected areas, community social and economic development, and public education in ecosystem services. At the core of the program are two Penn State-administered study abroad programs – one in the Wild Coast nature reserves of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province and one in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania. These programs integrate experiential learning with on-going faculty research and service programs in the parks and the surrounding communities.

The Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program is an integrated learning, research, and entrepreneurship program that brings together students and faculty across campus in the rigorous research, design, field-testing, and launch of technology-based enterprises in low- and middle-income countries. Through a series of five courses, HESE teams systematically advance ventures over multiple years with aspirations for large-scale commercialization and dissemination. The overarching goal is to deliver sustainable impact while preparing students for careers in social innovation and global sustainable development.

Students who participate in the course "Issues in Economic, Community and Agricultural Development in Kenya" (AGECO/ CED 499) develop viable economic and social development options in vulnerable youth, culminating with 3 weeks in Kenya.

ERM 499B, "Exploring Natural Resources in New Zealand", focuses on natural resources, climate and sustainability, as well as a variety of other related topics. Students travel to NZ for a portion of the course.

In Local Rural Development in Costa Rica (CED 499B), students study a wide range of themes such as small-scale agricultural production, entrepreneurship, sustainability, ecotourism, social assistance, and education, and travel to Costa Rica as part of the course.

The "Scholarship, Sustainability and Civic Engagement" program is a 7-credit immersive engaged scholarship experience that allows students to learn about community development in the classroom, apply those skills in a professional environment, reflect on their experiences inside and outside the classroom, and share those experiences with others. The program is made up of two courses, a summer internship, and a mentorship.

Currently under development is a new program "Study Away Pittsburgh", an immersive urban experience for students that provides an alternative to Study Abroad. The program will include on-line classes, a face-to-face course in urban sustainability issues, and a 20-hour per week practicum working with a community partner to address local sustainability issues. It is designed to meet the needs of students in a variety of majors. Anticipated launch date is Fall 2017.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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