Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.27
Liaison Carolyn Shafer
Submission Date March 3, 2023

STARS v2.2

Pratt Institute
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Carolyn Shafer
Center for Sustainable Design Strategies
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the student sustainability research program:
Pratt Center's Taconic Fellowship Program, made possible by a grant from the Taconic Foundation, provides financial awards for projects that align with Pratt Center’s urban planning and policy work in support of sustainable and equitable community development. The goals of the Fellowship are to connect Pratt Institute's diverse disciplines to community development work while supporting Pratt's commitment to collaboration, interdisciplinary projects, and service learning.

Who can apply?
Pratt Institute faculty (including adjuncts, visiting instructors, part-time and full-time professors), full-time and part-time administrators, and students (full-time or part-time, undergraduate or graduate) are eligible to apply. Partnerships between faculty and students and between people in different departments are strongly encouraged. Please note that Fellows from the 2018-2019 school year are ineligible for the 2019-2020 school year.

Project Eligibility
Proposed projects must meet the eligibility requirements below.

Partnership with an organization that serves as a community-based client for the project. The Taconic Fellowship supports projects that use a ground-up, community-based approach to tackling issues of urban sustainability and socioeconomic inequity. In order to help ensure this, projects must directly serve and relate to a community client’s existing program or initiative area.

Project must address one or more of the following areas of urban sustainability and/or socioeconomic equity: Affordable housing preservation or development • Climate change / resiliency • Commercial corridor revitalization • Community design • Community history • Community organizing for action • Community planning • Economic development • Energy efficiency and the built environment • Environmental justice • Environmental sustainability • Land use • Open space • Public art • Racial Justice • Social architecture • Transportation planning / public transportation • Urban design

Intention to make a tangible impact. Taconic-funded projects should strive to make a clear impact on the community and/or community-based client that they serve. While consciousness-raising is an important aspect of making broader societal change, Taconic projects should be outcome-oriented and endeavor to make more tangible change.

Based in New York City. Only projects based in New York City will be considered. As such, the community client must also be located within the five boroughs.

Examples from 2017-18 include:
Concrete Waves
This green infrastructure research project focuses on the development of a skate park that doubles as a storm water management system and creates an active space for youth in Red Hook.

Reducing Food Insecurity in Washington Heights
This project aims to address food insecurity in Washington Heights through a mobile emergency food pantry. Using a design thinking methodology, the analysis of cultural and community needs will inform the design of the mobile pantry operations and how it can build discussion around community health and well-being.

Chipping Away at Poverty Through Community Design
This project aims to close-the-loop with the Park Slope Food Coop, the Park Slope Community Help, Inc. (CHiPS), and a community garden through designing a collection bin for compost. The goal is to establish a self-sustaining program that encourages the reduction of food waste through community design.​

Merchants Energy Opportunites Project
This research and business engagement project will provide the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project (MARP) with a roadmap for pursuing cooperative energy purchasing as a means for small business to remain competitive and thrive along Myrtle Avenue’s commercial corridor.

Designating Community Gardens
In light of the city's exposed built-environment vulnerabilities as a result of climate change-induced extreme weather events, the goal of this project is to promote green infrastructure-based community resilience and sustainability; and to do so, in part, by promoting the utilization of New York City’s best environmental assets – community gardens – which happen to be spatially concentrated within the city’s most socially marginalized communities’. The project seeks to demonstrate that a policy of preservation of community gardens and their concomitant ecosystem service contributions to the city is an extremely cost-effective resiliency and sustainability strategy.

1) In 2020, Pratt's School of Architecture entered into a formal partnership with the Trust for Governor's Island, giving GAUD the use of a historic house on the North End of Governor's Island as a field work research, event, exhibition facility (now extended until 2025). Many classes conduct sustainability-related research at Governor's Island and use the old house as a base. The house has featured a number of cutting edge exhibitions of Pratt student and faculty work.


Last year the School of Design launched and annual initiative to recognize students who were engaged in work that focused on Social Justice and/or Sustainability during their years of study. These students were awarded honoraria and were recognized during the awards convocation that precedes commencement.


In addition, Student Research is featured during the Research Open House. Examples below from 2019:
Ali Chen - MS in Packaging Design
Grassroots Cactivism
Grassroots Cactivism began as the winning proposal of a competition held by the online publication Archinect, ‘Dry Futures,’ which challenged designers to reimagine ways to combat drought in California and Mexico. The proposal centers around the nopales cactus, a drought-tolerant plant fit not only for consumption, but which can also effectively clean polluted water.
The entire plant has myriad possibilities which can be easily scaled: the inner pulp can be adapted to improve and revolutionize existing wastewater management systems, the outer layer can be used as food and fodder as is traditional in Mexican cuisine and the leftover fiber has potential use as paper stock for sustainable packaging. Through marketing and awareness, we can increase demand for the product and raise funds for its research. Our prickly friends could be the next superfood, if we can shift the public perception of cacti as useless and elevate the plant as a staple of contemporary life and cuisine.

Ami Cai & Team - BFA in Communication Design
Song Searching
Humpback whales are some of nature’s most majestic creatures. These immense marine mammals undertake epic annual migrations, feed cooperatively, form local cultures and interact socially using songs transmitted over thousands of kilometers. What would it feel like to be a humpback whale experiencing today’s increasingly human-dominated world? Song Searching is a video game designed to give players the experience of being a humpback whale. To succeed in the game, players must successfully migrate through an environment filled with large ships emitting noise to arrive at their feeding and breeding grounds. Players will navigate the environment using both visual and audio cues, with stereo audio perception being a key guide to play.
Ami Cai, a Pratt undergraduate Communications Design major, first developed the concept for Song Searching in her elective ecology course with professor Chris Jensen and began the process of translating the concept to a game in a Collaboration Studio course with professor Basem Aly. Now a STEAMplant fellow, Cai continues her collaboration with Aly, Jensen, and Social Science and Cultural Studies professor Jennifer Telesca to develop a version of Song Searching grounded in both scientific and sociocultural realities.

Summer Sandoval - Sustainable Environmental Systems M.S
Austin Resilience Hubs
Resilience hubs are community facilities equipped with solar and storage technology to provide energy resilience or “energy assurance” during severe climate events, and in the summer of 2018, Summer was the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellow at the City of Austin, to develop a framework for the city resilience hubs. The concept has four main focus areas: adaptation, mitigation, preparedness and equity.
Summer developed planning framework for resilience hubs, which included establishing criteria for site selection, choosing three Parks and Recreation-owned centers as potential resilience hub sites, weighing options for solar and battery storage, performing financial cost saving analysis, and creating a resource toolkit. In order to prioritize environmental justice goals, site selection criteria identified community facilities in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas of Austin.


School of Architecture Dean’s inaugural Social Justice and Climate Crisis Student Awards (Spring 2020)
The first competition within the School of Architecture that judged all students across all departments as equal, and in itself, has been run as an experiment that has served to emphasize that intelligence, talent, ingenuity, and activism will always transcend the traditional boundaries of any one discipline, department or program. Further to this, the competition has underscored the potential for a new understanding of what we have in common, where we could collaborate in the future, and the true value of the rich and vital subject matter that our students inject into the school culture.

Does the institution have a program to encourage academic staff from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the faculty sustainability research program:
) In 2020, Pratt's School of Architecture entered into a formal partnership with the Trust for Governor's Island, giving GAUD the use of a historic house on the North End of Governor's Island as a field work research, event, exhibition facility (now extended until 2025).
2) Pratt and GAUD were also involved in the Governor's Island Climate Solutions Center RFEI. This involved a wide array of faculty within and outside of Pratt with other leading institutions - working on on-site climate literacy workshops, and site based projects around climate change. For example:

- Ariane Lourie Harrison - Guerilla Science Workshops with K-12 students on climate literacy and the installation/testing of Pollinators Pavilion prototype in urban farm.
- David Erdman and Jing Liu: RE: Housing Green Core. Examines innovative ways of renovating building cores to foster resource management, adaptation in relation to climate change and its requisite mitigation.
- Elliott Maltby Blue Tiles aqua-culture habitat "tiles" installation and demonstration project
- Signe Nielsen development of site mitigation and project field strategies for development zones and coastal areas
- Jeff Anderson/Olivia Vien - Climate sensing station proposal for Parade Grounds (with UA Faculty Jason Vignieri-Beane)

2) The School of Architecture Housing Consortium includes multiple working groups that conduct research and hold public programs on sustainability-related topics including 1) the right to housing, 2) desegregation, 3) decarbonization, and 4) relocation of communities affected by sea level rise and climate change. This includes GAUD faculty David Erdman (Chair) and Alexandra Barker (Assistant Chair), Meta Brunzema, Dylan Baker-Rice, and Radhi Majmudar.


The Mission of the STEAMplant initiative is to foster interdisciplinary collaboration between the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and “art” as defined by the diverse disciplines pursued at Pratt.

What we do
The STEAMplant supports its mission through two programs:

Sirovich Family Student Fellowship Program – Supports graduate and upperclass undergraduate students at Pratt doing STEAM work. Click here for more information about this program.

Sirovich Family Residency Program – Supports professionals outside of the Pratt community seeking to work on a STEAM project in residency at Pratt. Click here for more information about this program.

Both programs involve collaboration with at least one faculty or staff member from the Mathematics and Science Department and at least one faculty/staff member from another department at Pratt. Visit our people page to see the range of past, present, and potential collaborators.

Projects are supported by the broad array of resources that are available at the Institute, including vast knowledge and a wide range of technological capabilities, especially those that can be used to produce creative work. STEAMplant projects produce work that can be exhibited publicly and communicated to a targeted audience. These include projects with sustainability dimensions, including the following (see https://commons.pratt.edu/steamplant/projects/) examples:
Higgins Hall Thermal Comfort Study
Sirovich Family Student Fellow – Nathan Bataille
STEAMplant Faculty Members – Gabrielle Brainard, Cristobal Correa, Jessie Braden, and Daniel Wright
How are you feeling right now? Are you too hot? Too cold? How does the environment and your physiology affect your experience of a building? To answer these questions, Architecture Professors Gabrielle Brainard and Cristobal Correa installed a network of temperature and humidity sensors in a studio in Pratt’s Higgins Hall. As the sensors gathered data about the space, the professors surveyed the studio occupants – sixty architecture graduate students – about their thermal comfort.
Working with Mathematics Professor Dan Wright and SAVI Lab Director Jessie Braden, Correa and Brainard will analyze and visualize the results, generating insights by combining data about people and buildings, and seeking novel ways to represent non-visual phenomena like comfort. The project also has a pedagogical aim, engaging students in hands-on learning about building science by using the school as a living laboratory to make abstract scientific concepts more real.

To The Core of Me: A Hike Play
Sirovich Family Resident – Jeremy Pickard
STEAMplant Faculty Members – Christopher X. J. Jensen and Jennifer Telesca

Click here for less
To The Core of Me: A Hike Play is a literal journey through trees, in which an audience experiences a performance while guided on a hike through the woods. Inspired by ecological and anthropological perspectives on climate change, To The Core of Me explores a moment in the short life of an anxious human and the long life of a tree, both facing uncertainty in a time of environmental shifts.

The Dean of Design does offer grants is support of research and professional development which would support sustainability as a subset of possible areas of research.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A copy of the promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

The promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:
Faculty-created Departmental Peer Review Committee guidelines and criteria include evidence of "active involvement in projects, publications, or other public work with collaborators within or beyond the mathematics & science disciplines" as part of scholarship for tenure-track reappointment, part-time and full-time promotion, and granting of tenure.

The Peer Review Committee Handbook clearly states evaluation includes how faculty’s work is aligned with goals of the School and the Institute — that’s certainly a consideration. Then, at the Institute level, there is definitely support and encouragement of interdisciplinary work— I think the documents currently being prepared for Middle States probably include specific instances of where the Institute publishes the support of this work (perhaps in the strategic plan?)

From the perspective of the Peer Review Committee, we consider how the faculty’s teaching/research/service is aligned with the goals of the Department, School, and Institute. Since the Institute promotes interdisciplinary work, then this work on an application would be considered a positive, yes.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:
The library both orders relevant books and databases (such as ) and works to further student research with subject-oriented libguides such as https://libguides.pratt.edu/sust201 and https://libguides.pratt.edu/GCPE. These resources directly shape student research in SS201T, SUST310, SUST311, SUST401, SUST405, SUST410, SUST420, & SUST430, and graduate research in the Sustainable Environmental Systems program.

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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