Penn State Schuylkill to become a "Living Laboratory for Sustainability"

Penn State University's Sustainability Institute recently announced the recipients of the Reinvention Fund grants and Penn State Schuylkill was awarded over $50,000, an amount that includes $25,000 in support from the Office of the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses, to fund a 'living laboratory for sustainability.' This project, known as Envision, Plan, Implement, Change, Sustain (EPICS), will allow the entire campus to become a 'living laboratory for sustainability'.

According to Stephen R. Couch, Ph.D., director of Academic Affairs at Penn State Schuylkill, "This is an exciting opportunity for Penn State Schuylkill. The proposal involves all sectors of the campus in all aspects. It will also involve local community partners. Once fully instituted, EPICS will ensure that all Penn State Schuylkill students will have had the opportunity to learn about and practice sustainability."

Darcy Medica, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and adviser of the campus's biology and environmental club, will serve as the program coordinator for the EPICS project. This grant will allow the campus to explore several new initiatives including the addition of a sustainability leadership minor, a credit certificate in sustainability, and the inclusion of sustainability issues in the First Year Seminar. Faculty will have the opportunity to participate in two workshops related to the inclusion of sustainability into coursework and students will have the opportunity to participate in several field trips related to sustainability. Several campus/community related initiatives may be included, such as a one-day symposium to explore the county's social, environmental, and economic concerns in an effort to seek collaborative approaches to sustainability.

Over $875,000 was awarded university wide to faculty, staff and student proposals and Penn State Schuylkill was one of four Commonwealth campuses to receive funding. The purpose of the Reinvention Fund is to provide resources to innovative teams seeking to pursue interdisciplinary and holistic solutions to sustainability challenges in a way that fosters cross functional integration of Penn State's teaching, research, outreach, operation, and administration expertise, so that the university community can link and leverage its depth and build their collective capacity in pursuit of sustainability.

The Reinvention Fund portfolio composition is based on a strategy of relatively strong investment in teaching and learning focused projects and the exploration of transformational efforts at department, college, and campus scales. Funded projects also represent a tactical approach to explore the Living Laboratory theme of Penn State's Sustainability Strategic Plan.

The fund invested most heavily in projects that will utilize both campus and community resources to dissolve the traditional boundaries of classrooms and operational programs to create experiential learning opportunities. This strategy also recognizes that the Living Laboratory includes all Penn State's colleges and campuses. The portfolio strives to represent this diversity of campus locations, communities, and place-based approaches.

The portfolio of investment provides the tools for innovation across the functions of education, research, outreach, operations, and governance to support our continued transformation into a Living Laboratory for sustainability at an aggressive pace. 
For additional information about EPICS, please contact Dr. Stephen Couch at 570-385-6101 or email at [email protected].

To learn more about the Reinvention Fund, visit