Education in a university takes many forms and has many facets. These can range from formal academic degree programs to courses within the disciplines that may be taken as requirements in the major or as electives, to general education, interdisciplinary, first year seminar, communications, and public relations courses to cultural and residential life programming to faculty development, academic and community research centers, and special initiatives.[innerindex]
This report will provide an inventory of diverse educational initiatives, a qualitative Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (S.W.O.T.) analysis, and proposals for future consideration as we continue to develop, expand, and deepen the educational opportunities at PSU that support the growth and development of our students as proactive environmental advocates, practitioners, and socio-cultural agents while facilitating support for the university’s commitment to sustainability and our future.
This inventory provides a baseline of current educational programs and initiatives, a loom upon which to weave sustainability issues and practice into the complex tapestry of the PSU teaching and learning culture.
The inventory of educational initiatives has been subdivided into the following categories: research centers, academic programs and courses, cultural programming, student activities, residential life and dining services, communications, and special initiatives.
The Center for the Environment is a collaborative effort between PSU academic departments, government agencies, and regional nonprofit organizations. Established in 2004, the goal of the Center for the Environment is to address the science, policies, culture, and economics of the natural environment in northern New England through research, education and collaboration with a special commitment to the North Country and Lakes Region of New Hampshire. The Center focuses on applied environmental problems and engages local communities and organizations in environmental demonstration projects that integrate the natural and human environment. Projects include the following:
- Plymouth State University’s Masters of Science in Environmental Science and Policy is coordinated by CFE in partnership with the College of Graduate Studies. Started in the fall of 2005, the program focuses on applied environmental science, policy implications, and science translation. Four students graduated in 2008, and eight new students entered the program in the fall of 2008. These students are studying a variety of topics including studying vegetation changes along an altitudinal transect, designing effective methods to influence lawn care practices that are better for the environment, exploring conflicts in managing for different land uses in the White Mountain National Forest, investigating the unintended social and ecological consequences of land use and policy in the Squam Lake watershed, and determining if pharmaceuticals and personal care products are present in Squam Lake.
Numerous partnerships with students and off-campus partners are updated regularly. For example:
CFE’s National Science Foundation funded Research Experience for Undergraduates began in 2008. Eight undergraduate students from around the country work during the summer with research mentors at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. These students also complete science communication projects linking their research to a partner organization.
Engaged scholarship that blends research, service, and educational opportunities for students throughout the Lakes Region and North Country.
The center is an organization aimed at connecting the needs and goals of rural communities with insightful research and production partnerships. The Center works with diverse local populations and community leaders including elected officials, community groups, schools, developers, and others to preserve and enhance New Hampshire’s rural quality of life. The CRP is building diverse coalitions of people throughout the Northeast, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and upstate New York, to consider public concerns form a variety of perspectives. The needs of communities generate the goals of the center, helping to drive the research and service agenda. Programming includes:
- Engaged scholarship that blends research, service, and educational opportunities for students throughout the Lakes Region and North Country,
- Several student internship opportunities within and through the center devoted to environmental issues,
- Community research experience course that involves students in environment-related consulting jobs,
- The CfRP has collaborated with several organizations around the state to promote sustainable forestry and prudent use of biomass fuels and other resources. The center’s director is actively involved with the NH Community & Institutional Scale Wood Biomass Energy Committee, The NH Center for a Food Secure Future, the Northern Forest Biomass Energy Initiative Action Plan committee, the Groveton District Heating Committee, and more,
- Conferences and lecture series each semester,
Academic Programs and Courses
The Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the College of Graduate Studies provide two degree programs addressing Environmental Science and Policy. These are a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Policy (with options in Community and Environment and Environmental Science and a minor in Earth Science) and a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Performance provides a Bachelor of Science in Adventure Education, a degree that integrates environmental awareness, social agency, and concerns of sustainability.
Undergraduate Courses Dedicated to Environmental Studies
PSU offers many undergraduate courses that are dedicated to themes and topics addressing environment and sustainability and/or are correlated with the Environmental Studies degree programs.
- ESP2000 Introduction to the Environmental Science
- ESP4530 Environmental Science and Policy Seminar
- BI 2040 Conservation
- AN3110 Cultural Ecology
- BU 3220 Business and Environment
- EPL 3100 Environmental Planning
- IS3480 Perspectives on Wilderness
- PO3680 Public Policy Analysis
- BI2100 Winter Ecology
- BI3260 Freshwater Ecology
- BI4050 Ecology
- CH3420 Environmental Chemistry
- NSDI 2500 Environmental Science
- AR 3570 Art of Sustainability (currently an experimental course)
- SO3390 Environment and Sociology
- GE3290 Ecotourism in Acadia
- GE3780 Nature, Heritage Tourism
- First Year Seminar Courses offered 2009:
- “Do we need to be Green?”
- “What are the lives of other species worth?”
- “Our Water Planet”
Undergraduate Courses that May Address Environmental Topics from Multidisciplinary Perspectives
- EN1550 Wilderness Literature
- HE2900 Disease Safety and Environment
- IS 3480 Perspectives on Wilderness
- AN2210 Cultural Anthropology
- EPL2100 Community Planning
- EPL4150 Topics in Environmental Planning
- GE3280 White Mountain Region
- GE320 Natural Landscapes of the US
- GE3330 Population Dynamics
- PO3680 Public Policy Analysis
- AP2010 Foundations of Adventure Education
- AP3100 Wilderness Expedition
- AP3101 Immersion Wilderness Expedition
- AP3320 Adventure Education Philosophy
- AP3880 Adventure Education Practicum
- AP3890 Adventure Education Clinical
- AP4880 Adventure Education Internship
- AP4190 Independent Study
Graduate Courses Dedicated to Environmental Science and Policy
- EV 5200 The World of Life: the Biosphere
- EV5230 Fresh Water Ecology
- EV5250 Earthscape Pattern and Process
- EV5360 Marine Biology
- EV5370 Wetland Community Ecology
- EV5560 Special Topics in ES
- EV5800 Practicum in ES Education
- EV5910 Independent Study in ES
Graduate Courses Integrating Environmental Themes and Topics
- AE5560 Arts in Education Summer Institute
- AE 5020 Introduction to Eco/Community Art
Plymouth State provides a diverse array of cultural programming that serves our university, local, and regional community through the provision of public events and educational outreach.
The Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibitions program is dedicated to promoting interdisciplinary understanding of art and visual culture. The Karl Drerup Art Gallery exhibits nationally and internationally renowned artists and designers and features annual exhibits of faculty and student works. The gallery programs in the Silver Center Exhibition Hall highlight culturally, socially, and environmentally engaging issues in a variety of media. Lectures and panels, educational programming, integration of exhibition experience into course work in addition to cross campus and regional collaboration stimulate involvement in the learning process. Internet resources extend the educational outreach of the gallery to the broadest possible audience. The gallery further serves as a site for students to increase their understanding of exhibition practice and education.
Past exhibits addressing environmental themes:
- 09-10: Pat Musick: Up and Down — Art, Ecology and Collaboration
- Sheila Pallay: The Poetry of Place
- Protecting the Forest: Weeks Act of 1911
- 08-09: Beyond Brown Paper
- 07-08: Enchanted Gardens
- 06-07: Susan Smith — Comerford Dam Project
- 05-06: Karl Drerup Painting: A NH Treasure
- 04-05: NH in Print, Green Map, and Abstractions of Nature by Nancy Hellebrand
The Art Department visiting artist program brings artists, scholars, and guest speakers of regional and national repute to our campus. Guest artists visit PSU during the academic year to provide workshops, critiques, exhibits of work, and/or public presentations and artist’s talks. The program includes a graduate level guest artist summer courses which is open to selected advanced undergraduate students. We seek to cultivate a core network of artists returning to us on a regular basis in order to cultivate and sustain meaningful relationships and friendships between these artists, students, faculty, and community members.
The spring 2010 guest artist will be Andy Moerlein presenting his work and addressing the topic of Environmental Art Installations: Healing and Harmony.
The Sidore Lecture Series was established in 1979 by Plymouth State and the trustees of the Sidore Memorial Foundation. The series brings a variety of speakers to PSU to address critical issues and events in the political, social and cultural arenas to PSU and residents of New Hampshire.
This year’s Saul O. Sidore Lecture Series at Plymouth State University features diverse perspectives on our increasingly interconnected world to promote peace, prosperity, and a viable planet. This is a time of global mobility and communication, and Americans’ awareness of diverse cultures, people, world events, and institutions must keep pace. Students and citizens need to understand the issues in which international cooperation is vital: ensuring opportunity and sustainability in the global economy, resolving enduring conflicts, preventing genocide, and managing the tension between sovereignty and human rights. With this understanding comes the potential to facilitate problem solving at the local, national, and international levels.
This spring’s lectures are “How Green Economics Can Revive the Economy” and “The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water”
Center for the Environment Colloquium Lecture Series
Each semester the Center for the Environment hosts an Environmental Science Colloquium on Wednesday afternoons in Boyd Science Center. The colloquium features a variety of speakers on topics related to environmental science and policy. The talks are open to the public.
Student Environmental Activities
Common Ground is PSU’s Environmental and social justice student organization. The group has several objectives it focuses on. These include outreach and education through speaker, film, and various other educational events, community building through networking and collaboration, and service to the campus and community. Common Ground works in conjunction with the Office of Environmental Sustainability, The President’s Commission for Environmental Sustainability, the University Environmental Committee, and the Sustainability Fellows in accelerating the movement towards campus sustainability. In addition, Common Ground has traditionally organized and run Earth Day. New leadership within this group is helping the organization expand and is more involved in a broad range of activities throughout the academic year. The group meets each week in the EcoHouse and meetings are open to the entire campus community.
Hartman Union Student Union(HUB)
The mission of the HUB is to education for personal growth and responsible citizenship. The HUB coordinates student activities, provides for new student orientation, supports recreation activities, offers and outdoor center, and sponsors community service. Here are several examples of HUB-sponsored environmental activities:
- The HUB worked with Physical Plant to upgrade all of their interior lighting with motion sensors to be more energy efficient.
- Plans are underway to develop an environmental literacy survey of new students.
- Recreation Programs introduced a bike loan library last fall, with seed money provided by PSU’s student senate.
- The HUB, also in conjunction with Physical Plant, has added several sets of recycling bin throughout the HUB for increased opportunities for students/patrons to recycle.
- Orientation planning and events now incorporate the theme of environmental responsibility. We expanded and continue to improve our “green room” displays during orientation. These rooms are set up for incoming students and parents to take note on “green products” and their impact (or lack thereof) on our environment and suggests why these products make good choices when sending their students off to college. All first year orientation processes are now available on-line in order to reduce paper used in mass-mailings.
Residential Life and Dining Services
The Department of Residential Life coordinates many programs and initiatives that support, model, and apply environmentally conscious living choices, awareness, and action. Initiatives include:
- Creation of environmental fellowship program within the residence halls. These select students live and work in our residential facilities and have responsibilities that promote sustainable living practices.
- Move-in and move-out programs that support recycling, better community relations and energy conservation.
- All washers and dryers on campus are Energy Star front load machine which use less water and electrical energy.
- All refrigerators purchased for college apartments are Energy Star rated.
- RecycleMania started in the residence halls last year and now the program has been expanded to the entire campus. RecycleMania is a national program focused on increasing recycling efforts and decreasing the total amount of solid waste.
- Over the past two years, Residential Life facilitated an energy competition between all of the campus residence halls. The “Do It in the Dark” campaign provided incentives for the competition including free t-shirts and half-price laundry for the residence hall that decreased their energy usage most during the competition.
- Residential Life continues to facilitate a textbook recycling drive at the end of each semester.
- Langdon Woods, a Gold LEED certified structure, was featured on the cover and in an article in the July/August 2007 issue of School Construction News. The article featured the Langdon Woods’ LEEDS gold award and our efforts on sustainability. To view the article, visit www.schoolconstructionnews.com.
- Mary Lyon Hall had its grand re-opening as a student residence hall in October 2008. During remodeling, attention was paid to historic detail as well to environmental sustainability, making the nearly 100-year old building 40 to 50 percent more energy efficient. In addition to providing living spaces, Mary Lyon is the new home of the College of University Studies, Undergraduate Advising, and Residential Life.
Dining Services has initiated an environmentally sensitive program titled “Walking the Talk”. This approach to education via modeling has produced a number of actions that model progressive environmental values:
- In January 2008 PSU’s dining facility went trayless. With the support of our student government this new program, this program means that students no longer have trays in the dining facility. The rest of the dining program remains as it was before. After a full year of operation the result are impressive. The University estimates that it saved approximately $160,000 on food, electricity and solid waste costs. In addition that reduced the amount of food wasted by 35 tons.
- The snack bars on campus have all moved to using biodegradable plates and take-out containers.
- Vegetarian entries are available at all meals.
- Locally grown products are used whenever possible and special events are held featuring an entire meal of products from New Hampshire.
- Some of the solid waste produced by the food service is given to D-Acres, a local sustainability farm and is used to feed pigs.
- Sodexo Dining Services has developed sustainable menu and dining options for catered events.
The Office of Public Relations provides ongoing communications through diverse forms of publication: website, Plymouth Weekly e-newsletter, featured articles in Plymouth Magazine, and public announcements sent to local, regional, and state newspapers.
The university’s efforts on sustainability are anchored in a commitment to educate students about a sustainable lifestyle, to study and care for the environment, and to promote sustainability to the campus community and the world beyond. Sustainability efforts are evident throughout campus in a program that integrates sustainability across the curriculum, in residential life, and student activities. The website links to the Office of Environmental Sustainability, EcoHouse, Green Guide, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, Center for the Environment, Center for Rural Partnerships, President’s Commission for Environmental Sustainability, EcoHouse on Facebook, and Sustainability Fellows in Residential Life.
Our sustainability website may be found at www.plymouth.edu/sustainability/. The website provides news, announcements, and information regarding recent events. For example: “Katherine Holder’s EcoHouse Foundation Project and Report“, “EcoHouse Combines Living with Learning” news clip, “Amory Lovins’ Conversation With PSU Students & Faculty“, ” News Clip: Amory Lovins In Laconia Citizen“, “PSU EcoHouse Taking Shape“, “Skating on , ‘Green Ice'”, “PSU and HBRF Providing Hands On Ecology Training At Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest“.
EcoHouse, a new residential demonstration program featuring environmentally appropriate technologies, was developed through a University System of New Hampshire initiative on innovation and entrepreneurialism and received funding through a grant from the chancellor’s office. The mission of the EcoHouse is to demonstrate environmentally sustainable technology in a residential setting, to provide hands-on experiential learning opportunities to PSU students and the surrounding region, to collect and disseminate information about sustainability, and to help others live in more sustainable ways.
EcoHouse is the home of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, Common Ground, and PSU’s Student Sustainability Fellows. Bill Crangle, Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability; Brian Eisenhauer, Social Science faculty member and associate director of the Center for the Environment; and Steve Whitman, Geography faculty member, serve as co-directors of EcoHouse. To achieve its mission PSU EcoHouse will perform the following services:
- Provide a home to involve students in a “green renovation” and installation of renewable energy systems.
- Provide a location for workshops, seminars, demonstrations of how the average single family home can be retrofitted for sustainable design.
- Create a living laboratory for students and faculty to conduct experiments with sustainable design, alternative energy sources, and other technologies and ways of living.
- Provide a location for students to educate each other and the public by providing tours of the house and monitoring its energy use.
- Create a home and enhanced sense of identity for PSU students involved in environmental programs and activities.
A series of classes has been developed, and plans are underway to expand this project to serve as a campus and public resource for information on residential level actions to address climate change. The first EcoHouse course, Sustainability in Residences, was at capacity in fall 2008. Class work focused on issues around sustainability and individual residences, included guest speakers with sustainability expertise from around the region, and resulted in papers and presentations proposing the work needed to turn EcoHouse into an environmentally friendly building, reduce energy loss, and improve air quality in the building. An expanded course offering was offered in the 2009-10 academic year: an introductory sustainability course in the Fall and a Spring course that will enable students to determine the next set of environmental projects for EcoHouse. The plan for Academic Year 2011 is to expand to a residential program.
The Sustainability Fellow is a student working with the Department of Residential Life to promote the awareness and value of sustainable efforts to the on-campus housing community. Sustainability Fellows increase awareness of environmental related issues, create dialogue that enhances the perception of sustainability, and work to promote environmentally conscious choices and living habits.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
Examining strengths, weaknesses or challenges, opportunities, and threats is an informative means of review, reflection, and strategic planning.
The current inventory of educational initiatives provides a firm foundation for ongoing growth and development in terms of future breadth and ongoing depth of study, research, involvement, community collaborations, awareness, and increased faculty participation — fertile ground for the ongoing growth of interdisciplinary and inter-campus collaborations and opportunities. There are two central research centers, three dedicated degree programs, one minor, twenty dedicated undergraduate courses, eight dedicated graduate courses, and eight undergraduate and two graduate courses that link or integrate environmental themes and/or topics. Supporting all of these programs, there is a core of dedicated faculty, staff, and students who share a vision of systemic interdisciplinary educational programming that weaves together the many facets of educational opportunities and who are dedicated to the ongoing growth and development of this vision as it comes to life and continues to evolve and transform our lives.
We have a strong level of student involvement through the efforts of Common Ground, Residential Life, and EcoHouse. Our educational programming builds upon the infrastructure that has been constructed to analyze and reduce our carbon footprint through sustained and systemic energy management — fully supported by our administration. The PSU infrastructure is walking the talk — modeling for students — and mirrored dramatically via the micro community of EcoHouse. The growth and development of the PSU research centers and their work provides another layer of commitment to sustained research, the promotion of community partnerships, and a constant seeking of new opportunities whether they be via community partners, interdisciplinary collaborations, cultural collaborations, or graduate and undergraduate program collaborations — all of which vitalize the entire PSU community and place a priority on sustainability education and practice as integral to all we do as a responsible and progressive academic community.
Our analysis identifies internal communications as an area of need. At this time there is a lack of systemic strategically planned communications across campus and the campus community. Although there are pockets of well-developed communication, efforts remain fragmented. For example, the sustainability website, a well-developed resource, remains difficult to access (almost impossible unless one is specifically searching for this site); and there is an overabundance of non-systemic e-information. To date, many faculty and staff are not fully aware of the Campus Contract, the purpose of Eco-House, the mission and goals of the President’s Commission on Sustainability, and the comprehensive system of initiatives underway regarding sustainability.
On the other hand, communication to students has been far more productive due to the combinations of direct participation in pursuit of environmental degree choices, research opportunities, course selections, residential life initiatives, EcoHouse, student fellows, the public face of Common Ground activities, and involvement in cultural programming. However, overall sustainability and environmental awareness levels of students have not yet been determined.
Looking ahead, an initial brainstorming of possible future initiatives provides significant considerations for strategically planning the ongoing growth and development of educational programming. The commission has identified many possible actions both large and small, from a training institute for faculty to possible enhancements to the curriculum to new recruiting initiatives to improved public relations. These opportunities are elaborated in the section on ongoing growth and development of educational programming.
The most serious threat to the ongoing growth of educational programming that we have identified at this time would be future funding cuts or lack of funding streams to support current and future initiatives. A second threat, very dependent upon continued educational programming and communications, is that of not being able to sustain and expand faculty and student participation and future loss of interest and engagement. The key question is how to maintain momentum and increase involvement across the entire campus community.
Proposals for Ongoing Growth and Development of Educational Programming
Our motto Ut Prosim includes our environmental responsibility from local to global, a responsibility that is transdisciplinary and rooted in our deep and abiding commitment to stewardship and place in all its forms and facets. There are many opportunities at hand that could be selected and prioritized for development. The commission will begin discussion and review of ideas and initiatives currently generated, open discussion to the full campus for input and advisement, welcome new ideas, and set the goal of proposing a set of initiatives for funding and implementation.
First, we believe that the university should sustain and continue development of all current initiatives relating to sustainability, including especially the following:
- The Institute of the White Mountains initiative will provide core programming that includes research and scholarship opportunities, community partnerships, cultural programming, summer programming, historic preservation, eco-tourism, and outdoor recreation and will enable PSU to more fully utilize resources, facilities, and geographical location that is directly connected to our mission of service and commitment to the environment and sustainability. The Institute of the White Mountains Museum will develop an interdisciplinary archived collection of cultural artifacts representing multiple disciplines and provide opportunities to develop educational outreach, cultural programming, and invite scholarship and research across and between disciplines.
- Continue to examine and develop integration of service learning initiatives with environmental initiatives.
- Maintain environmental awareness and sustainability practices in PSU Strategic Plan and strategic planning priorities.
Second, we recommend funding and implementation for the following three proposals:
- Faculty Training Institute – This can be a key vehicle for cultivating faculty ownership, the development of interdisciplinary collaborations, the development of key understandings relative to the integration of environmental themes and topics into existing course content across all disciplines (without changing courses), promoting cross campus discussion, and truly integrating environmental awareness, appreciation, and sustainable practices throughout all of the diverse programming offered at PSU. This training institute could also address the design of dedicated courses, general education programming, first year seminar, and other possibilities not yet identified relative to the development of a comprehensive and systemic environment and sustainability knowledge base and experience at PSU for all students.
- Nature Trails We have a campus and geographical environment rich in an abundance of nature trail opportunities. Moving forward with the formal development of nature trails, signage, and mapping would significantly increase awareness, interaction, and appreciation.
- Public Relations Campaign-Develop and enhance a comprehensive public relations campaign. This could be a very dynamic interdisciplinary collaborative capstone project between environmental studies students, graphic design students, and writing option majors.
Third, we recommend continuing discussion by the commission of the following initiatives to determine their feasibility and desirability:
- Research possibilities for integration of teacher training/education programming with New Hampshire Department of Education initiatives focusing on environmental education.
- Sustainable Studies and White Mountain History that bring arts, science, and humanities together for dynamic summer courses, workshops, mini-institutes, and research opportunities..
- Sustainable Summer programming for students that will provide opportunity for students across the country to earn a certificate in environmental sustainability while studying green technologies, environmental health, local foods, environmental planning, carbon footprints, natural resources, and leadership. Graduate level programming will offer opportunities for advanced research in environmental science and sustainability.
- Family Hostels varying in length from 3-5 days and providing unique summer vacation opportunities in partnership with NH businesses.
Finally, we believe the following opportunities are worthy of consideration as our climate action plan develops over the next several years:
- The faculty could consider opportunities for incorporating environmental content in First Year Seminar course development.
- We could consider integration of environmental content into required Composition courses, including design of more “pair” courses linking First Year Seminar and Composition as is being piloted in fall 2009.
- In the General Education program, we could re-examine current set of critical skills and consider cultivation of environmental awareness and appreciation as a critical skill. (This item links to our proposal on faculty training.)
- The faculty could consider establishment of an integration goal of 50%, i. e., that 50% of courses across campus in next five years will integrate environmental awareness, appreciation, and/or sustainability topics into existing course content.
- The university could establish cross referencing of speaker series and increasing student participation at presentations. This might include development of interdisciplinary or Self and Society course that would require attendance at speaker series.
- The university could develop new initiatives in the recruitment of faculty and staff to emphasize commitment to sustainability and the environment.
- The public relations office could develop increased and enhanced community publicity of the environmental initiatives undertaken by the university.
- The physical plant office could develop infrastructure tours and signage.
- The Karl Drerup Gallery could make a priority of its website enhancement to include on-line resources for educators and expansion of its on-line exhibitions.
- We could improve our website to create easy access to the sustainability webpage.
- The university could involve the Graphic Design program in a public relations campaign for PSU’s commitment to sustainability.
Through such initiatives and the ongoing exploration of possible actions, we can continue to share our pedagogy, scholarship, creativity, and expertise, to catalyze and develop pedagogy of place, stewardship, connection, and sustainability. As we do so, we bring together the responsibilities of citizenry, community, and ecology; integrating our physical environment, sense of personal-community-cultural history, our creative culture, our social activism and quest for social justice, our sense of awe and mystery and wonder, and our shared understandings of the intricate web of connections that permeate our human and environmental relationships.