The Interdisciplinary Collaborative Studio (CoLab) in the College of Arts and Architecture is a course offered to fourth- and fifth-year undergraduate and graduate architecture, landscape architecture and architectural engineering (AE) students, in which they work on a real-world project that is either in the design or construction phase. In 2019 five interdisciplinary teams undertook a semester-long project to develop re-designs of Penn State’s Sustainability Experience Center (SEC)—a 9-acre site on the edge of the University Park campus. Their resulting visions were presented to a group of faculty, staff, and peers.
The “Oak Road Meadow Project” – a proposed planted meadow ecosystem located along Oak Road – served as a course assignment for both undergraduate and graduate landscape architecture students. Students were tasked with designing the general layout of the project and planning some of the potential features of the meadow, such as seating along the walkway through the meadow, an entry sign, a pollinator garden and locations for foliage. Sustainability was an important factor in many of the designs. In particular, the lighting throughout the meadow was often designed to use sustainable energy, like solar-cells, as a means of powering the lights. Students gave end-of-project poster presentations on their designs.
Students enrolled in the APEX (Applied Professional Experience Program) in the Smeal College of Business conducted an Opportunity Analysis for Lion Surplus, the University’s on-campus store that handles the removal and re-sale of University-owned equipment in environmentally responsible ways. The study looked at current processes used to track items sold and recommended ways that the program can more accurately report its sales data and, in turn, its waste diversion metrics.
A student class in Supply Chain Management developed a template for a sustainability review of suppliers, or Sustainability Score Card. They then applied this scorecard to the University’s top 40 suppliers.
Students in a Communications class (COMM 473) studied the Green2Go reusable take out container program (now known as PSreUse) to determine barriers to its adoption by students and develop a communications strategy to overcome them. The recommendations have contributed to a redesigned program.
Students and faculty in the Landscape Architecture Department’s Ecology + Design research initiative played a central role in the Musser Gap to Valleylands (MG2V) project. This project, which was initiated by Penn State President Eric Barron, partnered with ClearWater Conservancy to explore environmentally responsible land use options for the roughly 355 acres the University owns between Whitehall Road and Rothrock State Forest at Musser Gap. See Penn State News stories about the Musser Gap project:
A student project in a Labor and Employment Relations class (LER 460) helped the University’s public radio station, WPSU, to examine whether their radio broadcast coverage was well-balanced – both geographically (covering not just the immediate University Park region), and including a diversity of topics, such as race, gender and urban issues.
Another student project in LER 460 addressed diversity in hiring practices and identified local resources that may support PSU employees from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Students in a Labor and Employee Relations course (LER 460) developed a Sustainability in Recruitment Guide for integrating sustainability into the hiring process. During another semester, students in LER 460 addressed diversity hiring practices and identified local resources that may support Penn State employees from culturally diverse backgrounds.