Penn State invests $876K in sustainability projects through Reinvention Fund

Reinvention Fund projects collage
Credit: Penn State

Through the Reinvention Fund, the Sustainability Institute’s internal grant program, Penn State has invested more than $875,000 in collaborative projects intended to improve and expand sustainability efforts across the institution. Faculty/staff teams have received $773,485, and an additional $102,884 was dedicated to support proposals submitted by student teams.

“These resources have been contributed from all of our functional units—Student Affairs, Undergraduate Education, Research, Outreach and Finance & Business—and represent an institutional commitment to sustainability,” explained Provost Nick Jones.

“These resources have been contributed from all of our functional units — Student Affairs, Undergraduate Education, Research, Outreach and Finance & Business — and represent an institutional commitment to sustainability.”

-- Provost Nick Jones

A total of 87 proposals were received from teams representing 13 of Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses. Twenty-two proposals were selected to be funded, demonstrating innovative ideas from five of Penn State’s campuses—Great Valley; Harrisburg; New Kensington; Schuylkill; and University Park.

The Reinvention Fund portfolio composition is based on a strategy of relatively strong investments in teaching and learning-focused projects and the exploration of transformational efforts at department, college and campus scales.

The funded projects represent a tactical approach to explore the Living Laboratory theme of Penn State's Sustainability Strategic Plan, an immersive learning environment that utilizes the physical spaces, relationships, policies and processes of campuses and communities as hands-on learning opportunities.

“The project portfolio provides the tools for innovation across the functions of education, research, outreach, operations and governance to support the continued transformation into a Living Laboratory for sustainability at an aggressive pace,” explained David Riley, program manager of the Reinvention Fund.

The investments also represent a diversity of campus locations, communities and place-based approaches.

“We have invested most heavily in projects that will utilize our campus and community resources to dissolve the traditional boundaries of our classrooms and operational programs to create experiential learning opportunities,” said Riley. 

“We have invested most heavily in projects that will utilize our campus and community resources to dissolve the traditional boundaries of our classrooms and operational programs to create experiential learning opportunities.” -- David Riley, program manager

With the support of an outstanding review panel, and a detailed programmatic and strategic review of the project proposals, the following projects have been selected for full or partial funding:

A Demonstration Project of Virtual Reuse Marketplace for Salvaged Goods, Penn State Harrisburg - Robert Bylone, Jr.
An Immersive and Multi-disciplinary Experience in Sustainable Energy and Business, Penn State Great Valley - James Nemes
Building a Sustainable Business Development Learning Factory, Penn State Great Valley - Barrie Litzky
Building Sustainable Communities through the Digital Global Classroom, University Park - Erica A.H. Smithwick
Center for Sustainability Communication, University Park - Denise Bortree
Climate Change + Conflict Management, University Park - Lara Fowler
Community Solar on State: A Living Laboratory Framework for Outreach, Education and Research, University Park - Jeffrey Brownson
Development of a Student-Centered Penn State Sustainability Metric - The PawPrint, University Park - Andy Lau
Development of Sustainable Social Network and Social Marketing Resources for Promoting University-based Activity Transportation, University Park - Melissa Bopp
Enhancing Educational Opportunities in Biological Pest Control and Reducing Pesticide Application to Improve Sustainability, University Park - Scott DiLoreto
EPICS: Penn State Schuylkill as a Living Laboratory for Sustainability, Penn State Schuylkill - Stephen Couch
The Everyday Practice of Food Consumption and Waste Reduction, New Kensington - Ruth Ann Herstek
Greener Game-days: Making Penn State Athletics Events More Sustainable, University Park - Judd Michael
Infusing Concepts of Sustainability throughout the Recreation, Park and Tourism Management (RPTM) Curriculum, University Park - Peter Newman
Learning Together: Sustainability and Penn State's Living Laboratory, University Park - Elaine Brzycki
MorningStar Permaculture Learning Centre, University Park - Peter Aeschbacher
Scholarship, Sustainability and Civic Engagement: Fostering Long Term Partnerships for Community Change, University Park - Timothy Kelsey
Shaver's Creek Discovery Semester - Reinvented!, University Park - Mark McLaughlin
Staff Fleet EV Operation with Solar Offset, University Park - Stephen Oskin
Statewide Implementation of Promoting Healthy People/Healthy Environments through Medical Waste Reduction Strategies in Clinical Nursing Simulation Laboratories, University Park - Darlene Clark
Storied Images: Marcellus Shale, University Park - Steven Rubin
Sustainable Watersheds Program, University Park - Matt Royer

“We were inspired by the innovation and diversity of all of the proposals received,” said Denice Wardrop, director of the Sustainability Institute. “We extend our profound appreciation to the teams. They truly represent innovation on an unprecedented scale.”

For more information about the Reinvention Fund or sustainability at Penn State, visit Questions about the Reinvention Fund should be directed to [email protected].


Whitney Lloyd

Public relations and marketing coordinator, Sustainability Institute

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