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Reinvention Fund

The Reinvention Fund has awarded more than $875,000 for sustainability-related projects. Faculty/staff received $773,485 and student proposals received $102,884. Through these 11 student and 22 faculty/staff projects, more than 80 faculty, 60 staff, and 150 students have been engaged in sustainability research, project implementation, service, coursework, and internships.

The purpose of the Reinvention Fund was to create the necessary innovation “whitespace” to continue Penn State’s transformation into a Living Lab for Sustainability, and to demonstrate the value of these investments in a way that encourages continued growth of the fund. With those two objectives in mind, we aimed to fund it as fully and diversely as possible through a combination of internal and external funds.

Reinvention Fund projects fall into three primary categories, based on funding source (internal or external) and Principal Investigator type (Faculty/Staff or Student): Faculty/Staff projects supported by internal Penn State funds (2014 Funded Faculty/Staff Projects), Student projects supported by internal Penn State funds (2014 Funded Student Projects), and Faculty/Staff projects sponsored by external gift funds (2014 Funded Sponsored Projects). Penn State internal funding of the Reinvention Fund is the result of contributions from the Vice Presidents of Finance & Business, Outreach, and Research, as well as the Provost, and represents the majority of funding. Projects funded in this way were selected through a traditional one-time call for proposals with a subsequent rigorous review panel process. 


2014 Funded Student Projects

Organic Waste Logistics, $4,180
Nicholas Carbo, Penn State Behrend 
Bring in an organic waste-removal company to reduce food refuse in the Erie community by collecting it from local restaurants and turning it into organic fertilizer. Furthermore, local farms will have access to the fertilizer, ultimately improving the quality of the Lake Erie watershed.

Affordable Greenhouse Venture Sierra Leone, $4,950
Jerrel Gilliam, University Park 
Refine current affordable greenhouse technology in preparation for large-scale dissemination through a network of distribute micro-enterprises throughout West Africa.

Operation Dyson, $9,375
Andrew Harakel, Penn State Berks  
Install Dyson electric hand dryers in the restrooms of the LEED-certified Gaige Building to demonstrate cost savings as compared to the current use of paper hand towels.
Remote Wind Power, $8,688
Bridget Dougherty, University Park 
Participate in the DOE’s Collegiate Wind Competition to design and build a portable wind energy generation system, including market research and financial analysis to support the viability of the product.

Penn State Lion's Pantry, $555
Jake Ruddy, University Park
Create an on-campus food pantry for low-income students to overcome various restrictions to students at the State College Area Food Bank. 
Passively Rotating Soilless Living Wall, $12,730
Dustin Betz, University Park
Build a passively rotating, soilless living wall inside the Co-Space in State College by using aquaponics, a proven sustainable horticultural technology.

Increasing Local Foods at Penn State, $10,506
Jane Harrington-Noonan, University Park  
Make the food system more sustainable by bringing more locally grown and produced food to the dining commons and restaurants at University Park.
Crop Mobs, $11,450
Emily Pennock, University Park 
Bring students and farmers together in a cooperative effort as students spend a day working on a local, sustainable farm.
Abington’s Cloverly Gardens, $12,500
Rebecca Skarda, Penn State Abington 
Build an educational greenhouse and accompanying garden at Penn State Abington as a model for other campuses.

The Living Filter, $12,950
Jacob Hagedorn, University Park
Create a sustainability report of Penn State’s Living Filter and raise awareness of the filter’s process through teaching and learning.

People, Plants, and Pollinators, $15,000
Elyzabeth Engle, University Park 
Install a pollinator garden at the entrance of the Community Gardens with signage for visitors.

2014 Funded Faculty/Staff Projects

Greener Game-days: Making Penn State Athletics Events More Sustainable, $37,500
Judd Michael, University Park
tilize Athletics facilities, with a focus on the larger facilities such as Beaver Stadium (including tailgating areas) and Pegula Ice Arena, as the main parts of the “living lab” by learning more about available means to increase sustainability of Penn State sports events and then put those solutions into place.

Creating Educational Opportunities in Biological Pest Control and Reducing Pesticide Application in Campus Greenhouses, $12,333
Scott DiLoreto, University Park  
Expand current biological pest control program to other campus greenhouses, making further significant pesticide use reductions in our Plant Science greenhouse facilities as well as reducing pesticide use in other campus greenhouses.

Staff Fleet EV Operation with Solar Offset, $75,000
Stephen E. Oskin, University Park
ims to reduce pollution at the point of use, and also aims to completely offset the use of the vehicle in a sustainable manner while providing real-world information to the public. By a planning a replacement of the gas-powered local fleet vehicles with 100% electric vehicles and integrating PV solar arrays to offset usage, and installing fleet and visitor electric vehicle charging stations, this will allow OPP to immediately reduce environmental impact without depending on the relatively “dirty” local power grid.

Immersive Leadership Experience in Energy and Sustainable Business, $75,000
Wayne Figurelli, Great Valley

Implement a pilot program that couples hands-on coursework with internship experiences at the Philadelphia Navy Yard that leverages the unique learning environment and relationships at this location and also demonstrates an innovative and sustainable approach to providing engaged scholarship and undergraduate research experiences in key sustainability topics such as energy and sustainable business practices.

Community Solar on State: A Living Laboratory Framework for Outreach, Education, and Research, $56,250
Jeffrey Brownson, University Park
Create an outreach and educational platform that will allow our community to proceed with a pilot community PV project, called a “solar garden," retain the best practices learned, and then enable prospective solar projects as they evolve in the future. Community Solar on State will provide a platform for this and future solar gardens through community and alumni outreach, educational media development online and on site

A Demonstration Project of Virtual Reuse Marketplace for Salvaged Goods, $15,000
Robert J. Bylone, Jr.Penn State Harrisburg
Reduce the quantity of unwanted materials or items which are ultimately sent to University Park salvage by transparently offering reusable items and materials through a virtual warehouse and trading intranet platform to others within Penn State Harrisburg and eventually the University System state-wide.

Development of Sustainable Social Network and Social Marketing Resources for Promoting University-based Activity Transportation, $74,305
Melissa Bopp, University Park
evelop a social marketing campaign and accompanying smart phone app to encourage active transportation (i.e. walking and biking) (AT) behavior. Benefits of participation in active transportation include health (improved fitness, reduced stress, weight control, reduced cardiovascular disease), economic (decreased costs for fuel, insurance, parking, maintenance), and environmental (less air pollution).

Building a Sustainable Business Development Learning Factory, $15,000
Barrie Litzky, Penn State Great Valley
uild a sustainable business learning factory, which will engage students in immersive experiences in sustainable business development and sustainable management practices. Will also engage regional community partners -- Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) and B-Lab -- and PSU stakeholders including students, faculty, and staff at PSU’s Philadelphia area campuses.

MorningStar Permaculture Learning Centre, $52,500
Rachel Brennan, University Park
Build a community of permaculture knowledge with a permaculture landscape design installation at the MorningStar site to educate the Penn State University community and local community members about permaculture. Through student, faculty and community hands-on, active, skill building workshops, the proposed site of the MorningStar Permaculture Learning Centre can both fulfill the mission of the site's intent of sustainability and experience.

Storied Images: Marcellus Shale, $18,880
Steven Rubin, University Park
oster critical reflection of, and generate discourse on, the impact of Marcellus Shale extraction in Pennsylvania through photography. The overarching goal for this project is to move students from being passive recipients of critical news and developments toward becoming well-informed stakeholders, active and innovative participants invested in examining, understanding and shaping environmental decisions and collective futures through creative means.

Statewide Implementation of Promoting Healthy People/Healthy Environments through Medical Waste Reduction Strategies in Clinical Nursing Simulation Laboratories, $6,246
Darlene Clark, University Park 
Implement waste reduction strategies through increased recycling efforts at not only the University Park simulation location, but also at five other commonwealth campus locations which house nursing programs, and which contain simulation laboratories for their nursing students.

Development of a Student-Centered Penn State Sustainability Metric - The PawPrint, $14,270
Andy Lau, University Park
Assist students in behaving more sustainably by understanding the many day-to-day choices they make and their impact on sustainability. Preliminary estimates of these impacts on ecological footprint indicate that it is possible to reduce one’s footprint by up to two-thirds.
Scholarship, Sustainability and Civic Engagement: Fostering Long Term Partnerships for Community Change, $55,000
Timothy W. Kelsey, University Park
Bring together Penn State sustainability- and community-development related programs to create a deeply immersive educational experience for undergraduate students, to build and strengthen long term sustainability-related, community-university partnerships across Pennsylvania, and to work with and for citizens in addressing sustainability issues important in their communities. 
The Everyday Practice of Food Consumption and Waste Reduction, $11,315
Ruth Ann Herstek, New Kensington
Develop sustainable practices in food purchasing choices and waste disposal. Increase recycling awareness efforts, develop a composting site to reduce food waste, and use the compost products to expand the new campus Pollinator Garden. The compost site will become an education tool at which to conduct testing and research and to offer opportunities for classroom learning and undergraduate research.

Infusing Concepts of Sustainability throughout the Recreation, Park and Tourism Management (RPTM) Curriculum, $15,090
Peter Newman, University Park 
Infuse concepts of sustainability throughout the RPTM undergraduate curriculum. Building on the department’s existing collaborative relationship w/ Shaver’s Creek Env. Center. And have faculty identify local, regional, and global projects.
Shaver's Creek Discovery Semester - Reinvented!, $5,000
Mark McLaughlin, University Park 
Give the design, delivery, and marketing of the Discovery Semester a complete reinvention. The pillars of sustainability and the resources of the Shaver’s Creek–Stone Valley Forest complex will be better paired together and maximized as a Living and Learning Laboratory for the entire University community.

Climate Change + Conflict Management, $49,500
Lara Fowler, University Park
ring people together to identify climate-related impacts, potential conflict areas, and potential solutions. This project builds on the significant work already on-going at Penn State on climate change issues in the natural and social sciences, the humanities, and in the dispute resolution world.

Learning Together: Sustainability and Penn State's Living Laboratory, $37,500
Elaine Brzycki, University Park
mplify the goal of the Reinvention Fund by producing Learning Together: Sustainability and Penn State’s Living Laboratory, an online multimedia project to document and highlight Reinvention Fund awarded projects across Penn State colleges, campuses, and administrative units.

Building Sustainable Communities through the Digital Global Classroom, $35,600
Erica A.H. Smithwick, University Park
uild digital learning capacity as part of the global Penn State classroom. This learning community will be enabled in South Africa through the establishment of Living Lab Points– nodes of community engagement on sustainability that utilize technology to link African students and communities with (1) a Penn State resident courses and with (2) local K-8 schools in the Penn State community.

EPICS: Penn State Schuylkill as a Living Laboratory for Sustainability, $52,571
Stephen R. Couch, Penn State Schuylkill
Establish Penn State Schuykill as a Living Lab. for sustainability through EPICS (Envision, Plan, Implement, Change, Sustain). Project will involve all sectors of the campus in all aspects. The project will also involve local community partners.

Sustainability Communications Initiative, $37,125
Denise Bortree, University Park
Establish Penn State University as the leading institution in sustainability communication research and practice. The Initiative will engage many groups inside and outside of academia including faculty (at Penn State and beyond), staff, undergraduate students, graduate students, community partners, journalists, and other centers and organizations.

Sustainable Watersheds Program, $22,500
Matt Royer, University Park
romote, restore and maintain healthy local watersheds through collaborative community engagement and engaged scholarship. The program will develop and facilitate a dynamic, diverse partnership consisting of multiple academic units and local community partners working together to increase excitement for clean water and adoption of land management practices to improve water quality.

2014 Funded Sponsored Projects

Sponsored projects are those financially supported by external gift funds, but with a scope of work under the complete control of the Principal Investigator (i.e., project scope of work is not negotiated with sponsor). A portfolio of potential projects is presented to a sponsor, and a general match between funds and projects is made. Rigor is brought to bear by utilizing a similar review process for project proposals, but by an internal group of faculty and staff. In this manner, all Reinvention Fund projects, whether funded by internal or external contributions, represent unique, high quality, and well-stewarded investments.

Greener Game-days: Making Penn State Athletics Events More Sustainable
Judd Michael, University Park
Utilize Athletics facilities, with a focus on the larger facilities such as Beaver Stadium (including tailgating areas) and Pegula Ice Arena, as the main parts of the “living lab” by learning more about available means to increase sustainability of Penn State sports events and then put those solutions into place.

National Energy Leadership Corps
David Riley, University Park
The National Energy Leadership Corps (NELC) provides free home energy assessments to homeowners. Assessments are conducted by trained students or volunteers in their local communities, and are designed to promote awareness and create demand for local energy efficiency products and services.

Student-Centered Farm and Sustainable Food Systems Minor
Leslie Pillen, University Park
Develop an integrative design for a student-centered farm and a Sustainable Food Systems Minor that engages the university community with the goal of starting the first season of farm production in spring 2016.

Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition
Gerald Susman, University Park
The Smeal College of Business will launch its inaugural MBA sustainability case competition late this summer. The case setting is an SKF business area that includes units that make and sell bearings, seals, and actuators for both traditional and renewable energy industries. Registration is open to teams from any AASCB accredited MBA program in the US and Canada.

Sustainability Planning Guidebook
Erik Foley, University Park
The guidebook is intended to help every Penn State unit find its unique, strategic contribution to our collective vision of a community dedicated to a sustainable future.

Reinvention Fund In the Media

'Reinventing' sustainability: A collaborative passion
Penn State News
A portable, lightweight wind turbine to assist with energy demands during a natural disaster; an on-campus food bank for hungry, food-insecure students; greenhouse technology to help small share farmers in Africa grow their own food and diversify their diets; and thousands of photographs taken to document the transformation in our local communities resulting from the Marcellus Shale boom.

State College's Green Towers creates aquaponics-inspired home decor
Keystone Edge (12/11/2014)
Green Towers of State College is sprouting with a suite of designs intended to "reconnect people to nature and to their food." The startup grew from a Penn State undergraduate project -- the plan was to convert old shipping containers into vertical aquaponic greenhouses (a sustainable method for raising plants and fish) that could be shipped internationally and fit tight urban locations. Unfortunately, after building a prototype, the team determined that the market demand just wasn’t there.

New Kensington's renovated coffee bar reopens serving Starbucks products
Penn State News (10/29/2014)
The “greening” of the campus is done under the auspicious of the Green Team and supported by an $11,000 grant from the Sustainable Institute at Penn State. 

Penn State New Kensington focusing on sustainability, poverty and STEM
Penn State News (10/22/2014)
Funded by an $11,000 grant from the Penn State Sustainability Institute,the campus opened a compost site and installed composting bins in Café 780.

Students, faculty developing local sustainable farm
The Daily Collegian (10/2/2014)
In hopes of creating a more localized food supply chain, a group of Penn State students and faculty are developing a sustainable student farm, in tandem with a sustainable food systems minor, by the spring of 2016.

Marcellus Shale Gallery Crawl will feature students' photography Oct. 2
Penn State News (9/23/2014)
Juried student work will be on view in a series of exhibitions across campus and downtown State College, collectively titled “Storied Images: Marcellus Shale,” during the Marcellus Shale Gallery Crawl from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2. Supported in part by a Reinvention Fund grant through Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, these satellite exhibitions intend to promote critical discourse on sustainability and the extraction of Marcellus Shale through expanding the conversation to multiple disciplines.

Active Lions smartphone app encourages healthy lifestyle
The Daily Collegian (9/23/2014)
Kinesiology professor Melissa Bopp is making active travel a more realistic goal for students and faculty with an “Active Lions” smartphone app.

Penn State New Kensington to work compost into soil, education
TribLive (9/11/2014)
Penn State New Kensington officials insist that what looked like a lowly bag of garbage left in a field is, in fact, the start of an education and green revolution at the Upper Burrell campus.

Beaver Stadium suites program proves sustainable
Penn State News (9/3/2014)
Penn State officials are hoping to achieve a lofty goal this football season at Beaver Stadium. It’s the first step in a sustainability initiative to reduce the environmental impact of sporting events at University Park.

More reasons to move: Active Lions campaign encourages biking, walking
Penn State News (8/25/2014)
A new campaign is coming to town, and it wants Nittany Lions to move a little more.

Smeal Sustainability Case Competition open to MBA students from U.S., Canada
Penn State News (8/22/2014)
MBA students from business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in the U.S. and Canada are invited to register for the inaugural Penn State Smeal College of Business MBA Sustainability Case Competition. 

New Kensington campus to offer composting workshop in the fall
Penn State News (8/20/2014)
Learn the ins and outs of starting a home compost at the Backyard Composting Workshop from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 23, in the Conference Center at Penn State New Kensington. The event is free to the public.

Students launch crowdfunding campaign for Living Furniture prototype
Penn State News (06/27/2014)
GreenTowers, a local start-up run by Penn State students, have announced the launch of their Kickstarter campaign, as a way to fund their newest prototype, the Living Table. The crowdfunding campaign will begin on June 30.

Berks student awarded funding for Sustainability Institute project
Penn State News (06/25/2014)
Penn State Berks student Andrew Harakel, a senior Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology major, received funding for the proposal he submitted to the Penn State Sustainability Institute Reinvention Fund Project titled “Operation Dyson.”

Winning With Zero Waste (06/16/2014)
The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) campus in State College is no stranger to waste reduction initiatives. The university has had its own composting facility for years that processes leaves, grass, brush and other landscape trimmings along with preconsumer food waste from dining halls, and pre and postconsumer food waste from the hotels on campus. “We also have been a leader in tailgating waste diversion during Nittany Lion home games,” notes Judd Michael, a sustainable packaging specialist based in PSU’s Department of Agricultural and Bio-Engineering. “But until last year, we hadn’t expanded those diversion practices into Beaver Stadium, home of Penn State football, aside from aluminum can and plastic bottle recycling.”

State College Crop Mobs to host two volunteer events on June 14 at local farms
Penn State News (06/03/2014)
Crop Mobs, a project started by a small group of Penn State students in the fall of 2013, will host two unique volunteer opportunities on Saturday, June 14. Plowshare Produce CSA will host a crop mob from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and The Piper’s Peck will host volunteers from 1 to 6 p.m. in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. 

Penn State creates Sustainability Communications Initiative
Penn State News (05/14/2014)
Penn State has created the Sustainability Communications Initiative with the help of a $37,500 seed grant from the University’s Sustainability Institute Reinvention Fund.

Penn State Students Work to Create a Student Food Bank
WPSU (05/13/2014)
Students at Penn State just wrapped up final exams. You would expect students to worry about tests and grades, but it might surprise you that some students worry about where they’ll get their next meal. WPSU intern Joyann Jeffrey reports two Penn State students are trying to help their classmates by creating a campus food bank.

Windpower 2014: Collegiate Wind Competition: And The Winner Is…
AWEA Blog (05/07/2014)
The turbines have been tested, the judges have weighed in on their engineering, and now, all that remains is what some would consider the hardest part of the process: selling your product. The 10 teams in the Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition (including a Penn State team and Reinvention Fund recipient) spent this morning showcasing their business plans, making the economic case for their products, simulating a real-life venture.

New Kensington Green Team earns $11,000 sustainability grant for campus projects
Penn State News (04/23/2014)
A proposal by Penn State New Kensington for funding of sustainable projects was selected recently for funding through the Reinvention Fund. The campus received $11,315 to support educational activities such as courses, workshops and class projects; improve visibility and availability of current recycling efforts; develop a composting site; and expand the pollinator garden.

Penn State Schuylkill launches EPICS project (04/22/2014)
Penn State Schuylkill kicked off a project Monday that will take place over the next year to turn the campus into a living laboratory for sustainability. The event began with events for children in the community, including coloring, mask making and other activities. Stephen R. Couch, director of academic affairs at the campus, then addressed the crowd about how Penn State Schuylkill was recently one of four Penn State satellite campuses, along with University Park, to be awarded a $52,000 grant for the project, known as Envision, Plan, Implement, Change, Sustain - EPICS. It will ensure that all Penn State Schuylkill students will have the opportunity to learn about and practice sustainability.

Reinvention Fund Grant Projects Announced
Steady State College (03/27/2014)
The Reinvention Fund awarded more than $875,000 during the 2013-2014 cycle. Faculty/staff projects received $773,485 and student projects received $102,884.

Penn State invests $876K in sustainability projects through Reinvention Fund
Penn State News (3/24/2014)
Through the Reinvention Fund, the Sustainability Institute’s internal grant program, Penn State has invested more than $875,000 in collaborative projects intended to improve and expand sustainability efforts across the institution. Faculty/Staff teams have received $773,485, and an additional $102,884 was dedicated to support proposals submitted by student teams.

Great Valley selected to receive sustainability funding
Penn State News (03/11/2014)
Penn State Great Valley has been chosen as one of Penn State’s five campuses to receive funding from the Reinvention Fund, an internal grant program intended to improve and expand sustainability efforts across the institution. Penn State Harrisburg, Penn State New Kensington, Penn State Schuylkill and University Park will also receive funding.

Penn State invests $876K in sustainability projects through Reinvention Fund
PAHomepage (03/05/2014)
Penn State’s Reinvention Fund, the Sustainability Institute’s internal grant program,  has invested more than $875,000 in collaborative projects intended to improve and expand sustainability efforts across the institution, the university says. Faculty and staff teams have received $773,485, and an additional $102,884 was dedicated to support proposals submitted by student teams.

Penn State Schuylkill awarded grant to teach students and community to live sustainable lives
Republican Herald (03/04/2014)
Penn State Schuylkill was recently one of four Penn State satellite campuses, along with University Park, to be awarded a $52,000 grant and will create a living laboratory for sustainability.

Penn State Schuylkill to become a ‘living laboratory for sustainability'
Penn State News (03/03/2014)
enn 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."

GreentTowers Team Creates Solutions for Urban Food Production
Powerhouse Hydroponics (03/01/2014)
“What if everybody had the opportunity to grow their own food wherever they are?” This idea is the driving force behind GreenTowers, a young startup company lead by a team of entrepreneurial students at Penn State University. What started out as an aquaponic greenhouse concept, developed for a student competition, has blossomed into an innovative enterprise developing unique, urban food production products.

Penn State's Reinvention Fund invests $100K in student sustainability projects
Penn State News (01/31/2014)
In October 2013, the Sustainability Institute announced its new internal grant program, the Reinvention Fund, intended to support collaborative projects by faculty, staff and students that will improve and expand sustainability efforts at Penn State. Of the more than $700,000 allocated for investment in these projects, $102,000 has been dedicated to support proposals received by student teams.

Reinvention Fund new to Sustainability Institute
The Daily Collegian (10/31/2013)
Penn State is making the effort to become a more sustainable university. With the help of the Sustainability Institute’s Reinvention Fund, faculty, staff and students at the university will have the opportunity to get their sustainability-focused projects funded.

Penn State Looks Within for Sustainability Innovation
Campus Technology (10/07/2013)
Penn State has launched the Reinvention Fund, an internal grant program aimed at inspiring and enhancing sustainability innovation and education across more than 20 of its Pennsylvania campuses by its own students, staff, and faculty.

Reinvention Fund to ignite innovation in sustainability
Penn State News (10/3/2013)
Penn State’s Sustainability Institute recently launched a new internal grant program intended to support collaborative projects that will improve and expand sustainability at Penn State.

Living Laboratory Principles

A key objective of Penn State’s Sustainability Strategic Plan is the advancement of the Living Laboratory concept. This concept is increasingly common among colleges and universities who seek to expand and refine their pursuit of sustainability.

In essence, the Living Laboratory concept seeks to embrace campus grounds, regional eco-systems, and local social networks as assets for learning and experimentation in the advancement of sustainability. The concept is based on the premise that building capacity to truly understand, practice, and lead others in a new way of decision-making requires an immersive learning experience that dissolves the boundaries of classrooms, campuses, and communities.  This pursuit promotes acting our way into new ways of thinking as opposed to thinking our way into new ways of acting.  It requires hands-­on engagement of our University community in the reinvention of our physical environment, relationships, and policies and processes in a way that connects our students, faculty, and staff to broader communities and landscapes at every scale as a resource for learning. 

To advance the integration of the Living Laboratory concept at our university and in higher education Penn State faculty and staff are currently participating in a growing community of sustainability leaders.  The following draft principles have been developed as a direct result of these interactions and collaboration.  The Reinvention Fund seeks ideas and collaborative project that are strongly aligned with these principles.

A living laboratory is an ecosystem for learning that enables the unique features of our communities, facilities, campus grounds, and regional neighborhoods to serve as test beds for the development of innovative solutions to real challenges.   Through project-based teaching, research, and applied work, we will combine our talents across the functions of the university and within our community to explore, experiment, and evaluate actionable solutions.

Living lab program at Penn State will be pursued in a manner that is highly aligned with the following principles:

  1. Sustainability: Aligned with PSU’s vision for sustainability as a simultaneous pursuit of human health and happiness, environmental quality, and economic well-being for current and future generations. 

  2. Educational Design: Process design is integrative to establish an environment of co-learning and with clear learning outcomes defined and documented for participants and community members.

  3. Fit: Advances community priorities as defined by strategic sustainability planning and through inclusive co-creation processes.

  4. Place: Reflects an awareness of history and context within the campus and surrounding areas to honor the legacy of transformation pursued by our ancestors.

  5. Scale: Project outcomes are regenerative and designed in a manner and that would be useful and applicable to other contexts and locations.

  6. Enduring: Lasting impacts are pursued by thinking big, commitment beyond capacity and that will inform future decisions regardless of project longevity, success, or failure.

  7. Collaborative Action: Process celebrates diversity of contributions to foster deep engagement with partners and that transcends and diminishes organizational barriers and cultural differences.

  8. Monitoring, evaluation, and continuous improvement: Processes reflect attention to roles, resources and timelines to manage progress, evaluate effectiveness of approach and validity of models, and learn from data.