Harvard U Ed Students Call for More Focus on Social Justice

After a sociologist who considered issues of grassroots organization was denied tenure, more than 50 doctoral students at Harvard University's (MA) Graduate School of Education are protesting the school's direction toward results-driven management and policy concerns. The students say the school has veered away from social justice and equality issues in education over the last decade.

Harvard U Sponsors Regional Bike Share

Harvard University (MA) has announced that it will sponsor five bike share stations as part of Hubway, a newly launched regional Bike Share program recently introduced by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and state officials. Harvard has also committed to sponsoring four bike share stations in Cambridge, Mass. when the bike share program expands.

U South Florida Hosts First Farmers Market

Members of the Food Activists Revolutionizing Meals (FARM) at the University of South Florida held the university’s first farmers market after five years of planning. The launch received nearly 400 Facebook RSVP’s to the event and students lined up to purchase a variety of fruits and vegetables. Members of FARM include student organizations, the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement and the Office of Sustainability. Beginning this summer, the Student Community Gardens group will plant a campus garden to harvest produce to be sold at the market.

U Wyoming Awarded $5 Mil Grant for Community Food Project

Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Competitive Grant program, a University of Wyoming professor will lead a $5 million, multi-state "Food Dignity: Action Research on Engaging Food Insecure Communities and Universities in Building Sustainable Community Food Systems" project. The project's extension portion includes five community food initiatives. Each will create a local steering committee to disperse small grants that invest in citizen solutions to their own food system issues. The research will focus on developing case studies of what each community has already done and during the next five years will make clear what factors influence their successes and failures as they work to create sustainable community food systems that provide ample and appropriate food for all. An education component aims to create new cross-disciplinary undergraduate minors in sustainable food systems to prepare University of Wyoming and Cornell University (NY) graduate students to engage in this work. In addition to Wyoming, participating states include California and New York.

Portland CC Raises Plastic Pollution Awareness with Art

Portland Community College (OR) has scheduled an art installation called “Washed Ashore,” to raise awareness of the pollution caused by plastic waste. The exhibit features giant sculptures of sea creatures that are made from discarded plastics that were gathered by hundreds of volunteers and grade-school children from the Oregon beaches.

Yale Health Donates Medical Equipment to Haiti

Yale University's (CT) Health Center diverted nearly 38 tons of medical equipment from the waste stream by donating it to a hospital in Haiti that is being rebuilt after it was severely damaged in the 2010 earthquake. The university partnered with International Medical Equipment Collaborative, a non-profit that provides medical equipment to rebuild hospitals and clinics in impoverished areas worldwide, for the effort. The eight-truckload donation will take care of 20 percent of the equipment needed by the hospital.

Wake Forest U Students Teach Sustainability to Bilingual Children

Three students at Wake Forest University (NC) are using a service learning project for their "Entrepreneurship in Latin American and Latin Cultures" course to teach bilingual 4th and 5th graders in the community. Their program, Semillas Sostenibles (Sustainable Seeds), is a four-week course that teaches children about the environment, sustainability and healthy lifestyles. The students created a blog to document their progress.

Appalachian State U Recognized for Green Energy Advocacy

A new report by the Appalachian Region Commission, which states that the green energy movement has the potential to create more than 70,000 jobs by 2030, applauds Appalachian State University's (NC) efforts toward green energy job growth. The report recognizes the university's community outreach efforts through educational programs and the research conducted at its Energy Center. By 2030, the commission hopes to cut energy use for the entire region by 24 percent, resulting in energy savings of $21 billion for the region.

Central Lakes College to Offer Free Renewable Energy Training

Central Lakes College (MN) is partnering with the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. to offer free renewable energy training that is open to the public. The training is intended for dislocated workers to improve their skill-sets and make them more competitive in the renewable energy sector job market. The training program is made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Minnesota Department of Commerce through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Governor's Workforce Development Council.

Students Nationwide Rally for Public Workers, Education

The United States Student Association and Jobs with Justice recently organized a nationwide student-led rally to defend public education and the rights of public workers during a national day of action. More than 10,000 students participated in the rallies at more than 35 locations and across 15 states.

Cornell U Students to Design and Build School in South Africa

Cornell University (NY) Sustainable Design, a student-led organization, has partnered with Education Africa, a nonprofit organization that strives to counter poverty through education, to design and build a schoolhouse in Cosmo City, South Africa, this summer. The 6,000-square-foot preschool and teacher-training center, known locally as a crèche, will accommodate up to 80 of the area's children as part of a South African national initiative to improve early childhood development. It will include classrooms, a dining area, a kitchen, a health center, indoor and outdoor play areas, and an office. The students have also published a book, "Schoolhouse South Africa: Comprehensive Context," that is a compilation of their research for the project. The book contains case studies, local architectural history, details about the city and region, childhood development strategies, building sites, structures and a pre-design brief.

MIT Travels to Brazil for Biodiesel Education Efforts

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s biodiesel team, Biodiesel@MIT, plans to return to Sao Paulo, Brazil this spring to continue its previous education efforts on how to convert diesel engines into waste vegetable oil-powered engines. The group will target its education to garbage sorters, helping them identify which waste is particularly beneficial for waste vegetable oil biodiesel. The group is fundraising to finance the return trip.

Furman U to Help Small Businesses Become Sustainable

The Center for Corporate and Professional Development at Furman University (SC) has received a $50,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to support a new program that will educate and transform small businesses in the area of sustainability practices. The center will develop and implement the "Small Business Boot Camp," a hands-on program that will detail sustainable business practices that can decrease operating costs, increase revenues and build social responsibility. Program topics will include how to develop and maintain green facilities, and analyze and reduce energy usage, water consumption and waste creation.

American U Sharjah Students Raise Funds for Community Food Aid

American University of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) students held a campus-wide fundraising drive to generate support for the "Feed the Needy" campaign, launched by the university's Community Services Division. The students' efforts resulted in a truck load of food items that were distributed to 470 families in the community. In related news, student volunteers at the university were honored with the Sharjah Voluntary Award 2010 in the educational institutions category of the Eighth Local and Fourth Arab Voluntary Awards in December 2010. The university's Community Services Division was recognized for its exemplary volunteer work in the social sector.

India and U.S. Institutions Partner for Food Security Efforts

A consortium of Indian and U.S. institutions and agribusinesses have announced a $9.6 million project to boost agricultural production and food security in northern India. Launched by India and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under "Feed the Future," the new Agricultural Innovation Partnership will focus on rural populations in the Indo-Gangetic Plain who typically live on less than $1.25 a day. The consortium is led by Banaras Hindu University (India) and Cornell University (NY).

Royal Roads U to Support Public Green Energy Initiative

Royal Roads University (BC) has announced that it will provide community education and outreach, applied research, monitoring and reporting as part of the City of Colwood's three-year solar power project. The federally-funded $3.9 million effort will include retrofitting municipal buildings with solar energy, working with developers to build new model energy-efficient buildings, working with homeowners to retrofit up to 1,000 homes and installing electric vehicle-charging infrastructure throughout the city.

Cal Poly State U Students Help Affordable Housing Go Solar

The Power and Energy Society, an on-campus electrical engineering club at California Polytechnic State University (CA) recently volunteered to help install solar panels on low-income houses. Five houses received the solar panels that are expected to provide 90 percent of their electrical needs. The students installed the panels with two non-profits, GRID Alternatives and People’s Self-Help Housing Corp. The project received funding from the California Solar Initiative Single-family Affordable Solar Homes program.

U Arizona Supports Local Homeowner Water Conservation Program

The University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center is backing a new water conservation program. Conserve to Enhance, also known as C2E, plans to offer $500-$1,000 subsidies to help local homeowners install 2,400-gallon cisterns to harvest rainwater. The university is reviewing applications to determine whether applicants qualify for these subsidies. The pilot program is looking for ways to engage the university's Campus Sustainability Group in the near future.

U California Santa Barbara Sends Solar Lamps to Ghana, Haiti

Engineers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have partnered with nonprofits to send solar-powered LED lights to thousands of people in Ghana, Haiti and other developing countries without plentiful electricity by the end of this year. Spearheaded by the director of the university's Institute for Energy Efficiency, the project received $19 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Cornell U Students Propose 'Sustainable Community' for Local Area

Designed to shift the minds of local residents to clean and efficient technologies, students studying biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University (NY) have designed a sustainable community with bike trails, community gardens and renewable energies for a plot of land in Helena, N.Y. The 266-acre land known as Aspen Trails Ranch is owned by a Cornell alumnus who contacted the school as a possible site for such a venture. While Aspen Trails Ranch is the focus of the students' study, the concept of having a community where energy costs are low, local produce is easily accessible and people can potentially bike or walk to work can be used elsewhere. The tentative plan for Aspen Trails Ranch allows for agricultural land, 650 residences ranging from apartments to single-family homes to business spaces and community centers. The students recently met with the Helena city manager and other city officials to present their sustainable community study.

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.