Sustainable Communities Collaborative kick-off event to be held Jan. 29

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Sustainable Communities Collaborative at Penn State will celebrate the launch of several student-led projects at a kick-off event from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29, in the lobby of the municipal building at 243 S. Allen Street, State College. This event is free and open to the public. Everyone is invited to attend.

The kick-off event will feature a preview of the spring 2015 projects as well as an opportunity to peruse past projects from the Sustainable Communities Collaborative. Speakers include Tom Fountaine, State College borough manager; Robert Pangborn, vice president and dean of undergraduate education at Penn State, and Mackenzie Schrock, a Penn State junior majoring in labor and employer relations. 

Sustainable Communities partnerships are formed through agreements developed between local governments and the Sustainability Institute to link community-based sustainability projects with existing courses across the University. Projects are identified and developed based on the sustainability priorities of the local partner. Collaborative teams consisting of faculty, students, and local leaders work together to define and carry out projects. This semester’s partners include the Borough of State College, Centre Region Council of Governments and Foxdale, a local retirement community. 

Projects for the spring 2015 semester include an exploration of net-zero energy strategies from an engineering and a human resources perspective, stormwater mitigation tools for residential neighborhoods, composting evaluation and marketing studies, communication strategies to increase participation in recycling and marketing strategies for a farmer’s market. 

“What is notable about the spring 2015 semester is the variety of projects and the addition of new partners such as Foxdale Village and Centre Region Council of Governments,” said Michele Halsell, director of the Sustainable Communities Collaborative. “Students in the program represent a wide variety of majors from engineering to human resource management and from finance to communications.”

“Being able to take what I learned in the classroom and apply it to a real life situation was extremely beneficial and it is an opportunity that all students should try to take advantage of.” — Mackenzie Schrock, junior, labor and employer relations major at Penn State

The Sustainable Communities Collaborative is an example of engaged scholarship, giving students a chance to gain real world experience and translate classroom learning into real world impact. Students benefit by gaining experience and acquiring skills that build their resumes and enhance their job prospects at graduation. Communities benefit from research that is related to local sustainability priorities. 

“These projects help students build marketable skills and gain valuable experience, all while helping communities address sustainability issues and challenges,” said Denice Wardrop, director of Penn State's Sustainability Institute. “It’s truly a win-win situation.”

“Last semester, I was able to be involved with a real client, working to solve a real life problem,” said Mackenzie Schrock, a junior majoring in labor and employer relations who participated in a fall 2014 project. “Being able to take what I learned in the classroom and apply it to a real life situation was extremely beneficial and it is an opportunity that all students should try to take advantage of.” 

The Sustainability Institute invites State College residents and the Penn State community to attend the Jan. 29 kick-off event to learn more about the work that students are doing within the community and to share their ideas and suggestions for future projects.

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Last Updated January 21, 2015