New Sustainability Programs and Their Impact at a Large Public State University

Thursday 4:30pm-5:30pm Red Gym
Poster Session


Tim Bralower, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine
The Pennsylvania State University comprises 24 campuses across the state. Students who are admitted to any campus are automatically admitted to the University Park Campus once they meet the entrance requirements for their major. The University Park Campus has a Geoscience Department with over 30 faculty and several degree programs. Several of the campuses also have Geoscience faculty. Two of the campuses offer majors in geoscience fields with plans at other campuses to add Environmental Science degree programs. Campus faculty play an instrumental role in recruiting students into the geosciences and providing them with general and allied science education. However, these faculty have high teaching loads and often struggle to fulfill student demand for courses. Penn State is also home to the World Campus which offers courses solely online to students all around the world including a large number of Military personnel.

Penn State has led the development of five introductory-level blended and online courses as part of the InTeGrate STEP center. The courses constitute the basis of a recently approved Minor and Certificate of Excellence in Earth Sustainability offered in online format through the World Campus and in blended format at all the campuses. We are in the process of establishing an e-Learning Cooperative so that faculty at a campus can teach any of the sustainability courses online to students throughout the Penn State system. This will enable students to receive a greater introduction to, and variety of, sustainability courses at the campuses, and enable faculty to tailor courses to local campus interests and issues instead of that of World Campus students. The Cooperative is designed to provide lower faculty-student ratios and instill community among faculty throughout the system. Finally, this program will support the development of, and collaboration between, independent Environmental Science four-year degree programs at multiple campuses.