Penn State Schuylkill to become a ‘living laboratory for sustainability'

Penn State’s Sustainability Institute recently announced the recipients of the Reinvention Fund grants. Stephen R. Couch, director of academic affairs at Penn State Schuylkill, was awarded $50,000, including support from the Office of the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses to fund a "living laboratory for sustainability." This project, known as EPICS (Envision, Plan, Implement, Change, Sustain), will allow the entire campus to become a "living laboratory for sustainability."

According to Couch, “This is an exciting opportunity for the Penn State Schuylkill campus. The proposal involves all sectors of the campus in all aspects. It will also involve local community partners. Once fully instituted, EPICS will ensure that all Penn State Schuylkill students will have had the opportunity to learn about and practice sustainability.”

Darcy Medica, associate professor of biology and adviser of the campus’s biology and environmental club, will serve as the program coordinator for the EPICS project. This grant will allow the campus to explore several new initiatives including the addition of a sustainability leadership minor, a credit certificate in sustainability and the inclusion of sustainability issues in the First Year Seminar.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Penn State Schuylkill campus. The proposal involves all sectors of the campus in all aspects. It will also involve local community partners. Once fully instituted, EPICS will ensure that all Penn State Schuylkill students will have had the opportunity to learn about and practice sustainability.”

-- Stephen R. Couch, director of academic affairs at Penn State Schuylkill

Faculty will have the opportunity to participate in two workshops related to the inclusion of sustainability into coursework. Students will have the opportunity to participate in several field trips related to sustainability. Several campus/community related initiatives may be included, such as a one day symposium to explore the county’s social, environmental and economic concerns in an effort to seek collaborative approaches to sustainability. 

More than $875,000 was awarded University-wide to faculty, staff and student proposals. Penn State Schuylkill was one of four Commonwealth Campuses to receive funding. The purpose of the Reinvention Fund is to provide resources to innovative teams seeking to pursue interdisciplinary and holistic solutions to sustainability challenges in a way that fosters cross functional integration of Penn State’s teaching, research, outreach, operation and administration expertise, so that our University community can link and leverage our depth and build our collective capacity in pursuit of sustainability.

To read more about the funds awarded University-wide through the Reinvention Fund, go to http://goo.gl/n5tfKI

The Reinvention Fund portfolio composition is based on a strategy of relatively strong investment in teaching and learning focused projects and the exploration of transformational efforts at department, college and campus scales. Funded projects also represent a tactical approach to explore the Living Laboratory theme of Penn State’s Sustainability Strategic Plan. 

The fund invested most heavily in projects that will utilize both campus and community resources to dissolve the traditional boundaries of classrooms and operational programs to create experiential learning opportunities. This strategy also recognizes that the Living Lab includes all Penn State’s colleges and campuses. The portfolio strives to represent this diversity of campus locations, communities and place-based approaches.  

The portfolio of investment provides the tools for innovation across the functions of education, research, outreach, operations and governance to support our continued transformation into a Living Lab for sustainability at an aggressive pace. 

For additional information about EPICS, contact Stephen Couch at 570-385-6100 or email at src@psu.edu.

To learn more about the Reinvention Fund, visit http://www.sustainability.psu.edu/reinvention.

Last Updated March 24, 2014