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Our Approach - The Living Lab

We are committed to the creation of a learning environment that dissolves the boundaries of classrooms and campuses and creates immersive sustainability experiences. An education in sustainability goes far beyond mastering the material in a textbook. It requires hands-on opportunities for the entire University community and an active engagement in the reinvention of our physical environment as well as many policies and processes. Of paramount importance for ensuring the success of the Sustainability Strategic Plan will be to involve all campuses, research centers, and 30 million square feet of Penn State facilities in developing a living laboratory to pioneer sustainability education, implement sustainable practices, and lead the innovation of technologies and practices. Sustainability will be infused into all facets of life at Penn State, supported and driven by a collective and collaborative effort.

Further, this Penn State education will transcend the boundaries of traditional learning by connecting our students, faculty, and staff to broader communities and landscapes at every scale as a resource for learning. Our entrepreneurial partnerships with business, agricultural, educational, government, and community partners will underscore the University’s commitment to creating a learning environment that extends far beyond the borders of our campuses to fulfill our land-grant mission in the context of 21st century challenges.

Our collaboration with partner organizations will result in an efficient and effective iteration of innovation, advancement, and implementation. Each party will alternately act as inventor, adopter, advocate, and advisor, allowing us to mobilize together to address sustainability challenges. Cooperatively building a vibrant living laboratory for sustainability across the Commonwealth will foster generations of students and community members who appreciate the importance of sustainable practices in all aspects of their lives, who become our societal leaders and environmental stewards, who value their connection to their physical surroundings, and who embrace their role as responsible citizens.

Building this living laboratory will provide a more holistic intellectual environment for the entire Penn State community. It will help the University achieve its historical mission of preparing the next generation of leaders with a core education in traditional arts and sciences, and it will achieve its new mission of ensuring that those leaders possess the critical thinking essential for understanding and solving the challenges of tomorrow.

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