Strategic plan's outreach goal encourages public sustainability

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State’s University Sustainability Council is drafting the University’s first strategic plan for sustainability. The council is seeking public input for the five-goal plan during the drafting process. The fifth and final goal of Penn State’s Strategic Plan for Sustainability aims to help people throughout Pennsylvania and the world to develop and embrace more sustainable environmental, economic and social systems.

“Serving the Commonwealth and engaging with its citizens is fundamental to Penn State's land-grant mission. Our many partnerships with communities in Pennsylvania -- and beyond -- put us in an extraordinary position to help develop innovative solutions to sustainability challenges,” said Susannah Barsom, associate director of the Center for Sustainability.

The goal states that Penn State will “advance sustainability within the larger society” and “fulfill Penn State’s land-grant mission to develop and implement innovative, University-community partnerships that engage and inform our teaching, research, outreach and service functions to actively respond to the needs of the state and our broader communities.”

Here are a few examples of what Penn State is doing now to support this effort:

-- Penn State is leading a national effort to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, in partnership with a consortium of academic, government and industry partners, at an Energy Innovation Hub at the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC), at http://gpichub.org/ online.

-- Faculty and staff from Penn State’s Center for Sustainability are offering workforce development courses to expand the solar energy industry through the Northern Mid-Atlantic Solar Education and Resource Center, at http://zohacenter.org/ online.

-- Penn State is reaching out to the greater Pittsburgh region to strengthen and enhance multiple green initiatives through the office of The Penn State Center: Engaging Pittsburgh, at http://pittsburgh.center.psu.edu/ online.

Strategies the University Sustainability Council is considering to increase public engagement around sustainability-related topics include: partnering with statewide initiatives, engaging local governments and pursuing partnerships with businesses and nonprofit organizations poised to address specific sustainability challenges. Through these strategies, Penn State aims to enhance green job opportunities for continuing education students, attract green industries to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and deliver sustainability-related education to the public.

More ideas about how Penn State can help the broader society to embrace sustainability are welcome. This fall, Penn State will hold a series of town hall meetings at each campus to offer public input and discussion about the plan in its current draft form, and to seek suggestions from the public in support of each of the plan’s five goals. For a list of town hall meeting dates, visit http://live.psu.edu/story/55039 online.

Individuals also may share ideas by email at sustainablestate@psu.edu or at http://green.psu.edu/SustPlan/form.asp/ online. Ideas submitted through Nov. 23 will be shared in a timely manner with the University Sustainability Council for their thoughtful consideration during the planning process. The final draft of the Strategic Plan for Sustainability is scheduled for completion by Dec. 31.

For a list of sustainability-related initiatives Penn State is already pursuing, visit http://green.psu.edu/psuDoing/default.asp online.

For more information about the Strategic Plan for Sustainability, refer to the FAQ page at http://live.psu.edu/story/54759 online.

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Last Updated October 21, 2011