Carnegie Foundation Designates 'Community Engagement' Schools

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has recently designated 115 U.S. colleges and universities as meeting the requirements for its 2010 Community Engagement Classification, an elective process open to institutions from all sectors. In order to be selected, institutions had to provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices. More than 300 colleges applied for the designation this year, up from 217 that applied in 2008. Representing campuses in 34 states, the institutions selected include 37 research universities, 40 master's colleges and universities, 28 baccalaureate colleges, six community colleges and four specialized institutions.

Duke U Students to Help Aid Areas Recovering from Oil Damage

As part of its DukeEngage program, Duke University (NC) will send students to Bayou Grace, La. and Quito, Ecuador, where the environment and local populations have been negatively affected by oil industry practices. During the Louisiana project, students will spend eight weeks helping to reverse the damage done to the wetlands of the state's coast during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and educate the local youth about the wetland loss. In Ecuador, students will work in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where oil companies have dumped crude oil and waste materials.

Unity College Receives Grant to Support Local Food Production

Unity College (ME) has been awarded a $75,000 grant from Jane's Trust to help build, grow and strengthen existing community-based food production and distribution networks. The funding will allow the college to enhance infrastructure on campus that will support Veggies for All, a community agricultural project dedicated to alleviating rural hunger in the region. The college hopes to improve facilities for vegetable processing and storage to allow for more campus-grown food to be integrated into the dining hall, as well as increase capacity for Veggies for All. An action plan is being developed to ensure that the grant will have a sustainable impact.

Rochester Inst. Students Participate in Civic Engagement Program

Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) students will have the opportunity to turn classroom lessons into hands-on experience through AmeriCorps’ Students in Service pilot program. Twenty-five students will work in the community on development initiatives including public education, environmental stewardship and strengthening neighborhoods. The program is designed to challenge students to develop civic skills and increase connections between colleges and universities and the local community. The pilot is being coordinated through the New York Campus Compact.

Grinnell College Creates Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize

Grinnell College (IA) has announced the creation of the Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize. The prize will carry an award of $100,000, half to the individual and half to an organization committed to the winner’s area of social justice. One to three awards will be given each year to honor individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and show creativity, commitment and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change.

Duke U to Promote Socially Minded Student Ventures

Students, faculty and Duke University (NC) alumni are encouraged to transform socially minded theories into practice through the university's new campus-wide initiative to develop entrepreneurial ventures. The effort will build on ideas generated in existing campus social innovation programs by seeking opportunities to partner with private companies and the local community. One example of such an effort is Bull City Forward, a community of innovators who develop and scale solutions to community challenges and entrepreneurial opportunities. Led by the director of the university's Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative, Bull City Forward recently opened a storefront hub for social entrepreneurs.

U California Merced Creates Student Energy Service Corps

The University of California, Merced has partnered with AmeriCorps and the California Public Interest Research Group to create a new service-learning student group, the UC Merced Energy Service Corps. As part of the club’s official launch, students helped make the Merced County Rescue Mission more energy-efficient by weatherizing all windows and replacing all light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. With 16 groups at college campuses throughout the state, the statewide goal is to educate 30,000 people about energy efficiency and conduct 4,000 energy surveys.

California Schools Help Provide GHG Inventories for Local Gov'ts

California universities are teaming up with the Great Valley Center to offer free assistance to local governments to develop an inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions. The Green Communities Program, funded by Pacific Gas & Electric and the California Public Utilities Commission and implemented with the help of ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability, will pay interns from the University of California, Merced; the University of the Pacific (CA); and California State University, Stanislaus to work with staff members in participating cities to offer recommendations on how each city can reduce energy use in its operations. Interns will help the Great Valley Center assess metered energy use and interview city staff members about solid waste management, sewage treatment, landfill emissions and commuting practices.

Santa Clara U Receives National Higher Ed Civic Engagement Award

Santa Clara University (CA) is one of six institutions recently honored for their commitment to civic engagement and service-learning by the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. With new core curriculum that requires students to work with marginalized communities, the university earned the 2010 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award. The university's Arrupe Partnerships Program encourages faculty members to build relationships with local organizations and match students with placements that meet course goals and benefit the community. The other 2010 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award winners include Miami Dade College (FL); Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis; The College of New Jersey; Wagner College (NY) and Western Carolina University (NC).

Grand Valley State U to Offer Social Justice Training Program

Grand Valley State University (MI) has announced the launch of a free social justice training program for students and community members. The vision behind the program is to help foster multi-generational and diverse partnerships between students and the West Michigan Community. The program was funded through a grant from the Arcus Foundation and will start in January.

Luther College Produces Potatoes for Local Food Pantry

Students and staff at Luther College (IA) are producing potatoes for a local food pantry as part of the college's Luther College Gardens initiative. Seed potatoes donated from a campus cafeteria were planted in a Luther Gardens plot and tended to by student gardeners over the summer. The college recently harvested 70 pounds of potatoes that were donated to the food pantry.

Temple U Plants Trees in Northeast Philadelphia Community

Temple University's (PA) student-initiated Northeast Tree Tenders program has planted a total of 270 trees in Northeast Philadelphia since its start in 2007. Founded by an undergraduate engineering student, the program sends trained volunteers to neighborhoods to plant trees along streets and in yards at the request of homeowners. Northeast Tree Tenders is one of 225 such groups in Philadelphia managed and trained by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

Appalachian State U Students Take Service-Learning Trips

Appalachian State University (NC) students recently conducted community service projects as part of the university's Alternative Fall Break trips program. Fall trips included a visit to a wildlife refuge on the South Carolina coast, where students helped clean and maintain sensitive ecosystems; working alongside park rangers to maintain the Appalachian Trail; and helping local community agencies through environmental cleanup. Students help offset the carbon emissions of their trips by calculating how much carbon was used to travel and do every-day activities, and planning a sustainable community service project to achieve carbon-neutrality.

Brown U Students Work Toward Campus, Community Carbon Reductions

Students involved in the Community Carbon Use Reduction at Brown Initiative at Brown University (RI) are working to reduce carbon emissions on campus and in the community. Projects include pumping under-inflated tires at a local gas station to improve fuel efficiency, installing programmable thermostats in local homes and various community weatherization projects. Funded mainly through the initiative’s original $300,000 grant, the initiative also provides loans of about $3,000 for professional contractors to do larger or more serious projects.

Maharishi U Mgmt Installs Renewable Energy in Alaskan Village

Current and former students at Maharishi University of Management (IA) recently installed sustainable energy technology in a remote Alaskan village as part of a project to help indigenous Alaskans deal with rising energy costs. The group installed solar energy panels, solar hot water, a wind turbine, monitoring equipment and energy-efficient fixtures on two demonstration buildings: a home and a school. The success of this initial demonstration project, funded by a combination of sponsorships, tribal organizations and nonprofits including the Southeast Alaska Conservation Consortium in Angoon, may lead to a multi-phase conversion from fossil fuel dependency to a renewable energy infrastructure in rural southeast Alaska. Village and regional tribal authorities, with Maharishi University as a partner, are now applying for several million dollars in funding to implement the next phase.

Trinity Lutheran College Builds Rooftop Community Garden

Trinity Lutheran College (WA) has renovated the rooftop of a campus parking garage to feature a vegetable garden, small trees and native species plants that will be used in salmon habitat restoration. Students are working in the garden for class credit, helping to provide fresh produce for local food banks and plants for salmon. The college also plans to install solar panels to generate most of the electricity for the parking garage.

U New Mexico Partners with Local Farmers to Educate Youth

The University of New Mexico has teamed up with local farmers to feed and educate the community. University students are collaborating with an area charter high school to create a program aimed at teaching students the importance of local organic food. The high school students help prep beds and harvest and market the produce at a local farmers market. Some of the produce is served in the high school's lunch program.

Western Kentucky U, Habitat for Humanity Form Green Partnership

Western Kentucky University has partnered with Habitat for Humanity to create a new 16-acre, 50-unit green housing community using environmentally friendly development techniques. Funded by a $655,000 grant to the university from the Kentucky Division of Water, the community will feature pervious pavement, cisterns, rain barrels, irrigation piping to collect and recycle rainwater, drought-tolerant landscaping and organic alternatives to the use of chemicals. Western Kentucky University students will be involved in the design, data recording and analysis of the costs and benefits of the sustainable building project.

Iowa Community Colleges to Offer Biodiesel Fuel Training

In partnership with the Iowa Biodiesel Board, Iowa's 15 community colleges are offering a free biodiesel fuel training class. The course will highlight biodiesel’s clean-burning, renewable attributes and the practical aspects to apply this alternative fuel in private and commercial vehicles. The three-hour workshop designed for automotive technicians and mechanics shares background information and practical applications of biodiesel for consumer, commercial and agricultural applications.

Eastern New Mexico U Roswell Opens Community Solar Demonstration

Eastern New Mexico University at Roswell has opened a new community solar energy demonstration site. The 35-kilowatt solar installation demonstrates six photovoltaic technologies that can be installed on homes or businesses, including a rooftop, lollipop, single axis and dual axis arrays. The project covers 22,000-square-feet and includes a walking path with information markers describing the types of technology demonstrated.

NY Times Features U Oregon Sustainable Cities Project

Roughly 600 University of Oregon students will devote 80,000 hours this school year to making Salem, Ore. more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, reports The New York Times. Part of the university's Sustainable Cities Initiative, the project will enlist students in the architecture, planning, law, journalism and business classes to explore how Salem can nurture green business clusters, reuse industrial byproducts, connect parks with bicycle paths and design energy-efficient municipal buildings. The city of Salem will contribute about $345,000 for the university collaboration, dubbed the Sustainable City Year.

Tufts U Hosts Local Farmers Market

Tufts University’s (MA) Dining Services has partnered with the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project to host an on-campus farmers market. The collaboration will help those who are economically disadvantaged to get a fresh start through commercial farming and allow students access to local food. The range of produce available includes corn, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, cherries, apples and cantaloupe. The market also sells flowers, honey, baked goods and gelato.

U.S. Dept of Ed Pledges Commitment to a Sustainable Green Economy

The U.S. Department of Education promised to be a committed partner in the national effort to build a more environmentally literate and responsible society during its Sustainability Education Summit on September 21, themed "Citizenship and Pathways for a Green Economy." Until now, said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the summit, "we've been mostly absent from the movement to educate our children to be stewards of our environment and prepare them to participate in a sustainable economy." He pledged that the summit represents "the first time that the Department is taking a taking a leadership role in the work of educating the next generation of green citizens and preparing them to contribute to the workforce through green jobs." Efforts include a Department Green Team that will create policies in support of state efforts to prepare students for jobs in the green economy and a proposal that environmental education be part of the Blueprint for Reform's commitment to a well-rounded education.

Duke U Offers Winter Mobile Market

Duke University (NC) has announced a new fall/winter mobile market. University employees can choose from fruit, vegetables, locally-raised meat, local seafood or gluten-free prepared foods. Faculty and staff will pre-pay for the produce in September and pick up weekly shares of the harvest from October through March.

U Florida Participates in Community Agriculture Program

The University of Florida's Office of Sustainability will provide campus locations this fall for local farms to offer a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to the community. The pilot year of the program will begin in mid-October with four farms delivering member shares to campus. Through the program, local consumers become farm members by paying a set price at the beginning of the season. In return, farmers provide fresh produce and farm products directly to members each week throughout the growing season. In an effort to encourage CSA participation among its staff, faculty and students, the university is providing coordination and communication help, as well as a physical location for the CSA pickup.

U Memphis Exhibits New Water Turbine

The University of Memphis (TN) has announced a new water turbine exhibit. The Greene Turbine features a sealed middle structure and concrete blade that harnesses ocean or deep river currents to turn it. The rush of water continuously spins the turbine inside, generating power that is transferred to a generator. The turbine is name after its creator, Geoff Greene, who was assisted by a university mechanical engineering professor. The exhibit, “Green Power: A New Twist on a Turbine,” runs through Sept. 24, 2010.

Penn State York Offers Green Advantage Training, Certification

Pennsylvania State University, York will offer Green Advantage training and certification in October. Green Advantage is a commercial construction program designed for builders, developers, contractors and suppliers. The training is open to the public and will cover the construction principles behind sustainable building and the LEED rating system. Participants will learn how to lighten the impact on the environment, save energy and improve the health conditions of construction workers and building occupants.

Appalachian State U Provides Energy Tours to School Groups

Appalachian State University (NC) has begun offering tours of its various energy projects to local school groups. Conducted by the university’s Wind Applications Center, tour stops include the university’s wind turbine, biodiesel processing facility, energy-efficient dwelling and photovoltaic solar array. Interactive features of the tour include the chance for students to make their own electricity to light a light bulb by pedaling a bike that is connected to a generator. Students also learn how alternative and renewable energy is good for the environment and its increasing role in consumer energy use.

Central Michigan U Student Creates Community Garden, Ed Program

A Central Michigan University senior has created the Campus Grow project, which focuses on an organic community garden and composting. The project offers the community sustainable alternatives to the industrial food system through access to healthy local food and educational gardening opportunities. The Campus Grow team focuses on growing and harvesting food in two organic gardens on campus. Food scraps are collected from residential restaurants to create compost for the gardens. The gardens are used to grow a variety of vegetables and plots are rented out by students, faculty and community members.

Philander Smith College Receives Grant for Social Justice Center

Philander Smith College (AR) has received a $1.2 million grant from the Kresge Foundation to help establish the Center for Social Justice. The grant will help fund the staff needed to oversee the college’s social justice initiative. An executive director and program staff will train faculty to infuse social justice into their curricula.

U Toronto Scarborough Promotes Healthy Eating to Local Community

The University of Toronto Scarborough is promoting the benefits of buying local and eating healthy through its weekly farmers market this summer and fall. The university's goal is to create an opportunity for local farmers, producers and artisans to connect with the community, providing access to locally-grown, sustainable produce. The university will continue support of the market through educational programs with the help of guest chefs, nutritionists and local producers. The farmers market initiative will link campus research, programs and services that investigate the benefits of sustainable farming.

Butte College, Chico State U Students to Help Retrofit Households

Butte College (CA) and California State University, Chico have received a grant of almost $400,000 from Pacific Gas and Electric's Innovators Pilot Program to retrofit at least 100 Chico, Calif. households with energy-saving measures. The funding will be used to employ students to conduct energy audits and assist with the installation of energy conservation measures like caulking and sealing cracks, doors and windows, and placing real-time energy monitors on homeowner meters to track energy consumption.

Johns Hopkins University Students Help to Green Local Nonprofits

Students at Johns Hopkins University (MA) have recently completed sustainability assessments at 20 Baltimore nonprofits as part of the university's Climate Showcase Project. Through the project, students learn ways to reduce the organizations' energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. The inaugural co-hort of six students looked at details like weatherproofing, lighting fixtures, toilet and sink water flow, recycling efforts and in-house dining options. The students made recommendations including the use of energy-efficient light bulbs, insulation, low-flow toilets, recycling programs and biking to work.

Washington and Lee U Program Provides Local Food to Summer Camps

Washington and Lee University's (VA) Campus Kitchen has partnered with local camps to provide food education and fresh, local food to the kids. Campus Kitchen serves snacks produced from the campus garden five days a week and plans to host local YMCA summer camps, inviting the kids into the garden to learn firsthand where food comes from.

Macalester College Invests in Bank for Under-Resourced Citizens

Macalester College (MN) has made a financial investment in University Bank, which supports economically distressed communities in St. Paul, Minn. Through the partnership, students research micro-lending, green banking methods and culturally-appropriate banking through classes and internship opportunities. The campus community can also contribute to the Socially Responsible Deposit Fund with an investment option that helps improve local urban neighborhoods.

Sacred Heart U Plants Community Garden

Sacred Heart University (CT) has debuted its St. Martha Community Garden. The garden has four raised beds, each containing rows of red and black bush beans. All of the produce from the community garden will be donated to the Connecticut Food Bank through Catholic Charities Harvest Now. Students in the fall will have the opportunity to harvest the beans and decide on an expansion of the garden based on the needs of the community.

Colorado State U Initiates Green Walking Tour

Colorado State University has created the self-guided Green University Walking Tour. The tour of its Fort Collins campus takes students, staff and visitors to more than a dozen locations that have been essential in the school’s sustainability efforts including the LEED Silver-certified Guggenheim classroom building and the School of Global Environmental Sustainability.

Curtin U Technology Installs Solar Panels in Rural Community

Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Malaysia's Project Care recently completed the installation of solar panels in the cultural center of Malaysian rural community Long Makabar. Project Care, a university community outreach program, spent the last two years raising funds for the project. The village has no permanent electricity supply and is looking at solar energy as a sustainable and affordable energy source.

U Washington Students Urge to End Nike Licensing Contract

Students at the University of Washington are urging the school’s president to end its apparel agreement with Nike. The university would join the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University (NY), both of which ended licensing agreements with the Ore.-based apparel company as a result of its failure to adequately address the problems caused by the closing of two Honduran factories. At issue is the non-payment of severance to workers at two apparel factories, both of which were under contract with Nike to produce collegiately licensed apparel. The University of Washington’s Student Action Labor Project argues that Nike breached the University’s Code of Conduct that safeguards workers’ rights who produce logo apparel for the university.

California State U Northridge Creates Community Garden

California State University, Northridge has constructed three raised-bed vegetable boxes for a community garden. The garden, which will eventually feature five raised beds, a spiral herb garden and a raised potato bin, is a working demonstration of sustainable practices with an educational focus on healthy eating. The harvest will be used for cooking classes and donations to local food banks.

Portland State U Featured in NY Times as Planned EcoDistrict

The Portland State University (OR) campus will be the site of a pilot EcoDistrict, according to a recent article in The New York Times. To steer away from the reliance on large, centralized systems to generate electricity, dispose of waste, transport people and process stormwater, Portland residents will experiment with the management of such systems on a smaller, distributed scale in five pilot neighborhoods. The Oregon Sustainability Center, slated for construction at the edge of the university’s campus, will generate all of its electricity, consume only the rainfall that falls upon it, and process all of its wastewater.

Syracuse U Connects Neighborhood Food Desert with Local Farmers

Syracuse University's (NY) Environmental Finance Center has partnered with Central New York (CNY) Bounty to provide fresh, local and organic foods to neighborhoods in need of alternative food options. In these areas, known as "food deserts," residents must travel long distances to supermarkets that don't provide fresh or local food options. Through the CNY Bounty online farmers' market, residents can order food for pick-up at the university's South Side Innovation Center. The collaboration will also support the local economy by connecting Syracuse residents with small-scale local farmers and producers.

U Ottawa Unveils Community Garden

The University of Ottawa (ON) has started a 32-square-foot community garden project. A student volunteer organization will look after and manage the garden, which has 42 plots open to the community. Four communal plots are also on hand for campus projects. Students and faculty can apply for the reserved plots for research purposes.

U Houston Partners with Urban Harvest for Community Garden

The University of Houston (TX) has partnered with nonprofit urban food educator Urban Harvest to intensify its sustainability initiatives with a new community garden and campus gardening classes that are open to the public. The garden is slated for a fall 2010 debut.

New York U Releases Sustainable Communities Report

New York University's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy has released a report with the Urban Institute titled "Building Environmentally Sustainable Communities: A Framework for Inclusivity." The study examines the relationship between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's dual goals of encouraging sustainable communities and enhancing access to opportunity for lower income people and people of color.

British Columbia Inst of Technology Prepares Vancouver for EVs

The British Columbia Institute of Technology has partnered with the city of Vancouver and the Rocky Mountain Institute to launch Project Get Ready Vancouver. The program will help the City of Vancouver prepare for the use of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by providing a long-term sustainable plan for electrical grid infrastructure development and the adoption of electric vehicles in Vancouver.

U Tennessee to Host Farmers' Market

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has announced plans to host a farmers' market once a week. Proceeds from the market will be use to fund the University’s Organic and Sustainable Crop Production Program, a multi-disciplinary internship program for students to foster interest in farming and farmland preservation.

U Rochester Develops New Environmental Curriculum

University of Rochester (NY) has developed a new curriculum in environmental sustainability. The program will help two independent schools in the U.S. and Africa educate and lead communities toward a more sustainable energy future by teaching about the science, maintenance, and use of energy technologies. Research on curriculum, learning, and assessment, conducted by faculty and students from the University of Rochester, will help middle school students at both schools gain a better understanding of renewable energy and how to operate the systems installed at their schools.

Florida Universities Assist Gov't Agencies in BP Oil Spill

Florida State University, University of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Miami, Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida International University, Nova Southeastern University, University of Central Florida, University of North Florida, and University of West Florida have joined the Oil Spill Academic Task Force created by FSU Chancellor Frank Brogan to assist local, state, and federal agencies in dealing with the oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico. The Task Force will coordinate academic resources of all Florida universities to measure and model the magnitude and trajectory of the spill, provide information on potential and actual ecological impacts of the oil, plan logistics, and evaluate risks and assist in citizen-response efforts.

Temple U Ambler Partners to Plant Trees at Local Park

The Temple University, Ambler (PA) Arboretum and the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture has partnered with the Philadelphia Zoo, among other institutions, to plant thousands of trees and native plants in Fairmount Park as part of the Zoo's Footprints conservation program. The project, which over the course of the next few years will involve 40 - 50 students, aims to reduce global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide through reforestation, restore native wildlife and habitat and improve forest connectivity in Fairmount Park, and increase local appreciation of wildlife and understanding of climate change effects.