Initial Publication Date: December 1, 2016

Advice for Future Implementations

Part of the InTeGrate Shippensburg University Program Model

Consideration of context

Our program is based at Shippensburg University and housed in the Department of Geography and Earth Science. This grant was a joint effort between a faculty member in Biology and another in Geography and Earth Science, and was partially supported by a project coordinator employed by the Center for Land Use and Sustainability. While many of our faculty members have incorporated sustainability or used InTeGrate modules in the past, the official grant-funded program ran from January-November 2016.

Things that worked well that we would do again

Two activities that worked extremely well for us were the Campus Community Sustainability Forum and Sustainability Field Conference. Our sustainability related activities were well received and attended, and we hope to have more events in 2017.

Sustainability Pledge

Shippensburg University staff, faculty, and students have worked together to create a Sustainability Pledge that is available to Shippensburg University and the surrounding community. The purpose is to recognize the importance of StewardSHIP, and to show individuals how small actions they take can help support a more healthful and sustainable world. The text of the pledge was created through an iterative process, with input from student organizations and faculty and staff in various departments across campus. The pledge is currently available online: To date, over 250 individuals have taken the pledge, sharing the actions they are willing to take to help make Shippensburg more sustainable.

Campus Community Sustainability Forum

The purpose of the Campus Community Sustainability Forum was to engage community partner panelists from major corporations to small non-profit organizations in a discussion on the concept of sustainability and the importance of thinking sustainably. We asked panelists to explore the term "sustainability" from their perspective and disciplines, how it related to their day-to-day operations, and how it impacts the decision-making processes necessary for the future of their organization and communities they serve. This program was moderated by WITF Radio Smart Talk host Scott LaMar. The program was free and open to the public. Forum panelists included:

In total, we had over 40 attendees from the campus and community. We used social media to advertise for the event, and provided "live tweets" with highlights from the panelists. We used this opportunity to launch StewardSHIP week events and initiatives on campus, and inform the group of the Sustainability Pledge. We found the moderator to be crucial in the event running smoothly, and balancing conversation between speakers. The audience was attentive and interactive throughout the event. Forum Flyer (Acrobat (PDF) 1.1MB May9 16)

Sustainability Field Conference

In May 2016, we held a two day Sustainability Field Conference to bring together members of the community and campus to explore topics related to sustainability. The first day focused on the dimensions of sustainable communities and environments, and included visits to partners and sites within the Franklin County area. Day two focused on innovations, challenges, and opportunities in sustainability in the Cumberland and Adams County region. The goals of the 2016 Sustainability Field Conference were:

  1. Explore the dimensions of sustainability today and in the future and
  2. Engage, inspire, and assess pathways toward stewardship and partnership opportunities between the university, and the communities in our region.

Including attendees and speakers, we had 41 individuals participate in the two day event. Attendees included undergraduate and graduate students from Shippensburg University, staff and faculty from Shippensburg University, faculty from York College and Wilson College, and members of the community. Site visits included tours and discussions with staff from the Chambersburg Borough office, Green Yard Waste Recycling Center, IESI Blue Ridge Landfill Gas-to-Energy Facility, Wilson College Fulton Farm, Michaux State Forest, and Adams Electric. Attendees were asked to submit a written evaluation of the event. All oral feedback was extremely positive, and attendees discussed ideas for future site visits and topics. SFC Itenerary (Acrobat (PDF) 107kB Jun2 16)

Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge

Funded partly by an external grant through Outdoor Nation, Shippensburg participated in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge. Shippensburg University went head-to-head against 89 other colleges and universities across the country to earn points for outdoor activities and to win prizes donated by corporations that value sustainability through corporate social responsibility initiatives that protect the environment, encourage sustainable supply chains, and whom enact social justice campaigns. The first time participating in the competition, Ship ended up placing 8th overall (! Over 460 participants (faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members) logged over 3100 individual activities to help Ship improve each week from an initial place near the bottom tier and climb to surpass the efforts of some very large schools with notable outdoor programs. Please note, Ship does not have an "outdoor program" so the majority of advertisement for the competition was through the InTeGrate network of faculty, the Center for Land Use and Sustainability, and the "green" student organizations.

Sustainability Outdoor Film Festival

From September 19-22, we hosted a Sustainability Outdoor Film Festival on campus. Each night was hosted by a community organization, and included conversation about sustainability at local, regional, and global scales. Participation ranged from 8-40 individuals each night. Event schedule (Acrobat (PDF) 93kB Oct5 16).

Strategies for overcoming challenges

In terms of academics, many faculty members around campus teach sustainability concepts and elements of Earth literacy in courses offered by their departments. Unfortunately, they are often taught independently from a disciplinary perspective, and without a meaningful programmatic integration. Few opportunities exist within the core liberal arts/general education level where these topics should be introduced and made accessible to students from all disciplines. As an institution, we are just starting to explore options for building a sustainability major. Further, a limited number of opportunities exist for students to engage in sustainability research or internships in this area. InTeGrate allowed us to start synthesizing sustainability efforts in academic programs and co-curricular activities across campus. We were able to bring faculty together to discuss sustainability issues, network, provide resources, and foster a collaborative atmosphere.

From an administrative point of view, one of the largest challenges we encountered was time. Most faculty at Shippensburg University "wear many hats" and were hesitant to participate in additional programs, due to the time commitment. For the faculty that did participate, we found that they were often relieved to see what small changes they could implement to have large impacts on students in their courses. We found that it was difficult to provide faculty the support they needed while completing the grant requirements in a timely manner.

Things to think about before you start this type of project

Before beginning this program, it is important to consider the institutional support and culture on your campus. Our program was widely accepted and supported, from students to administrators. We found that while financial support was difficult to find, the University supported the ideals of this program and encouraged growth. It can be difficult to start projects like this without staff support and when under a strict timeline- it is important to understand your resources before pushing forward.