Penn State University's Sustainable Communities Collaborative
Penn State University's Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC) connects University Park faculty, students, and staff with local communities to address sustainability challenges through an engaged, collaborative effort. Innovative University/community-based collaborations are developed to engage PSU faculty and students in existing courses from across the University with real world, community-identified projects to meet the partnering community’s sustainability priorities. SCC program at Penn State is built on the Sustainable City concept with focus on one urban partner, but we modified our SCC approach to better suit Pennsylvania.
SCC partners primarily with local governments and non-profits with the intention to increase the partners’ capacity to make better informed decisions towards a more sustainable future. The fragmented political landscape in Pennsylvania (4,897 local governments) and a significant rural landscape, also means resources are very limited and dispersed. SCC requires a small buy-in from community partners as a sign of commitment, and we often only conduct a single or very limited number of projects, so as to not to overwhelm local staff. This approach may give the appearance of being ‘scattershot’, but it actually works effectively in a couple of ways: it socializes the concepts of sustainability (SDGs) in communities more gradually and allows for an almost organic growth of sustainability projects in the community.
Our SCC approach to projects and working with faculty and partners is similarly varied. The presentation will focus on both the mechanics ( including best practices) and diversity across our SCC projects, and similarly, the variations of how projects are addressed in the classroom.