Seed grants support 10 additional strategic initiative pilot programs

May 18, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The development and dissemination of carbon-neutral technologies across campuses, the creation of a University-wide wellness network, and a plan to embed the film-based installation “FaceAge” into school curricula are among 10 proposals that Penn State is funding as part of the second round of seed grants for strategic initiative pilot programs.

Last year, through an innovative new funding process, Penn State invested $2 million in its top strategic priorities, while simultaneously advancing the vital and transformative work of its faculty, staff and students across the University.

To be eligible, the strategic initiatives must support Penn State’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan and its thematic priorities, which include transforming education, enhancing health, stewarding our planet’s resources, advancing the arts and humanities, and driving digital innovation; or supporting elements. Programs should also incorporate the plan’s foundational areas.

Faculty, staff and students from across the University submitted proposals for consideration, seeking grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000. Seed grants are recommended for funding after review by the University Strategic Plan Implementation Oversight Committee.

“The most recently funded initiatives show our commitment to making significant impacts in implementing the University-wide strategic plan,” said Nick Jones, Penn State’s executive vice president and provost. “The innovative ideas and projects moving forward will make a positive difference at the University and beyond, supporting our land-grant mission and the plan’s priorities.”

For example, one funded proposal aims to revive employee and student health programming across Penn State by creating a network of Health Champions across the University’s campuses and providing technical assistance to implement evidence-based wellness policies and practices within departments, in support of the University’s strategic plan priority of enhancing health.

Another approved initiative will focus on the research and development of carbon-neutral technologies and their integration into energy infrastructure while engaging local and global communities through education and outreach. This program supports the strategic plan’s priority regarding stewardship of Earth’s resources.

“To have this many individuals actively involved in promoting the goals of a university strategic plan is unique and inspiring,” said Betty Harper, associate vice provost for planning and institutional research. “It’s not only the people writing and implementing the proposals that demonstrate the depth of the community’s commitment, but also nearly 200 individuals across 17 strategic planning committees that are reviewing these and working with authors to develop their ideas.”

The recently approved initiatives are listed below, and more information about the proposals and their authors is available at

— Lion Pulse: Networking Employee and Student Wellness Initiatives, in support of enhancing health, and mentioned above.

— Energy 2100: Ensuring a Carbon-neutral, Global Energy Economy, in support of stewarding our planet’s resources, and mentioned above.

— Experiential Digital Global Engagement (EDGE) at the Commonwealth Campuses, in support of driving digital innovation and transforming education. EDGE will build on the SUNY Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) model to connect Penn State classrooms with classes around the world through technology and project-based learning.

—Using Research-based Pedagogies to Enhance Cognitive and Affective Outcomes of General Education, in support of transforming education. This research, built upon Elrod and Kezar’s Model for Institutional Change, will demonstrate methods for increasing use of research-based pedagogies in high-enrollment General Education courses offered in online and resident formats. It also will focus on methods for achieving consistency in courses as required by One Penn State: 2025, an initiative to develop a culture and curriculum that facilitate seamless access by students across instructional modes, in part by embedding responsive online processes throughout the University.

—Pennsylvania in Balance: Harnessing Stewardship for Clean Water through Innovative Communication, Engagement, Marketing and Sense of Place, in support of stewarding our planet’s resources. This proposal addresses one of the most critical environmental problems on the globe today: nonpoint source pollution of water (agriculture and urban stormwater runoff). Pennsylvania is at the epicenter of this problem, causing pollution to streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Building upon a transformative conference convened by Penn State, the proposal advances integrated research, student learning, and community engagement to solve this complex problem with study focus areas at the Harrisburg campus and Lancaster County experimental station.

—Exhibition and Catalogue: Back and Forth, in support of advancing the arts and humanities. This collaborative project will, through a major art exhibition of the works of Warren Rohrer (1927-1995) as it evolved in conversation with poet Jane Turner Rohrer (b. 1928), engage vital issues of historical, cultural and environmental sustainability in the agricultural communities of rural Pennsylvania.

—FaceAge @ Penn State, in support of advancing the arts and humanities. This initiative will embed FaceAge — a film-based installation attracting global public/private markets as a platform for community engagement, workforce/diversity training, and healthcare education — into Penn State’s undergraduate and graduate curricula. FaceAge, created by Andrew Belser, the 2017-18 Penn State Laureate, will serve as a “learning laboratory” offering new courses, distributed course modules, and engaged learning.

—Transforming Education through Immersive Technologies, in support of transforming education. This initiative will develop empirically validated immersive experiences that will allow for integrating place-based learning experiences (virtual field trips) into STEM classes. The initiative will advance the integration of different learning environments and simultaneously make cutting-edge educational practices available to everyone at Penn State.

—Individualized Pathways and Resources to Adaptive Control Theory-Inspired Scientific Education (iPRACTISE), in support of transforming education. This project will address heterogeneity in students’ backgrounds, a major hurdle to effective, broad and inclusive education in areas such as data science. This initiative will develop, test and implement a system that provides personalized digital training in data science guided by user input and automated control theory algorithms.

—Campus Arts Initiative, in support of advancing the arts and humanities. This project will commission eight site-specific, visual arts works for high-impact indoor and outdoor locations across the Commonwealth, in a cross-disciplinary replicable model for collaborative engagement. The works commissioned will stimulate viewer curiosity and ensure that art engages the educational, cultural and historical dimensions of its environment.

The next deadline to submit proposals is Sept. 4; the next round of funded initiatives will be announced in mid-December. For more information about the strategic plan funding model and seed grant process, including proposal and submission guidelines, timeline and review process, visit Questions about seed grants and other components of the strategic plan implementation process should be sent to

Last Updated May 18, 2018