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Empowering Collaboration and Learning

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Dr. John Anderson, President of Millersville University, grew up in the Hudson River Valley in New York and distinctly remembers not being allowed to swim in the river because it was so polluted. He was studying water quality and recalls being asked by his high school earth science teacher to put his hand in the water as they were passing the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in a little motorboat. “I put my hand in the water and it was like hot bath water. We then saw the fish kills. The fish swam through that thermal area and washed up on shore. That inspired me to say, 'this isn’t right.'”

falseDr. Anderson was a founding member of the SEED Center Sustainability Task Force. The Sustainability Education and Economic Development Center, or SEED Center, was established in 2010 with a mission to accelerate sustainability and clean technology education at community colleges nationwide. SEED provides free educational resources and training and serves as a central hub for community colleges to exchange information and share innovative best practices on sustainability and clean technology programs and curriculum. SEED fosters engagement of the campus community including administrators, faculty, staff, and ultimately students. It is designed to empower people of varying statuses and provides workshops and tools by and for presidents, VPs, deans, and instructors. More than 30 college presidents are involved in SEED’s Task Force and Executive Committee.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Connect with other schools – 470 community colleges members create a powerful network.
  • Make a pledge – By committing to progress, presidents increase the effectiveness of SEED.
  • Provide free resources – Community colleges have greatly benefitted from access to SEED's free curricular and professional development resources, curated by leaders in the field from the most promising practices and tools available.
  • Use tools to self-assess and prioritize - The Green Genome tool evaluates community colleges’ progress in expanding their local green economies.
  • Take advantage of mentoring – SEED’s mentoring program provides assistance so that the most successful and innovative practices can be effectively replicated.
  • Leverage the campus as a living laboratory – Students are motivated and better empowered when the campus serves as a living lab.

falseDr. Anderson's involvement in SEED was motivated by aligning his personal values with his campus mission. Through the SEED Center, he helps to advance sustainability and clean technology education programs at hundreds of community colleges.

Dr. Anderson remembered his early life lessons and has worked through the years to educate and empower students on climate solutions. As former President at Alfred State College, SUNY College of Technology, Dr. Anderson encouraged project-based learning to engage students in solving real world problems. For example, students at Alfred State built a net-zero energy home as part of their coursework. This provided students with a vibrant living laboratory and experience with renewable energy and green building technology.

Momentum grew and “Team Alfred,” which included students from Alfred State, Alfred University, and Guilin University of Technology in China, participated in the Solar Decathlon China 2013. The Solar Decathlon is a program in which collegiate teams design, build, and operate solar-powered, cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive homes. The team earned a first place award in energy balance and gained exceptional sustainability training. 

Through Dr. Anderson's work with SEED, hundreds more community colleges nationwide now have access to free educational resources to increase their ability to offer the kind of programs and training that students at Alfred State and Millersville have enjoyed.

Connect, Learn, and Assess

Mentor Connect Program - Recognizing that peer mentoring is highly effective, SEED developed the “Mentor Connect Program” to help grow new sustainability projects. The program matches up best-in-class green colleges with “mentee” colleges to identify their challenges and address them with proven practices. The technical assistance enables the most innovative practices to be more easily replicated. 

The Campus as a Living Lab - "The Campus as a Living Lab: Using the Built Environment to Revitalize College Education" guide explores opportunities for experiential learning as part of facility improvement efforts. 

Green Genome - SEED strives to integrate sustainability issues into the “DNA” of the institutions. The Green Genome is a self-assessment tool to evaluate and priorize their efforts. It evaluates community colleges’ progress in aligning green-focused workforce education programs with other campus and community sustainability initiatives, and their progress in expanding their local green economies.

When Dr. Anderson was invited to join Solution Generation, he thought it was an innovative and effective approach to expand the climate solutions conversation. He commented, “We all have our personal ways of advancing the cause. I just announced that the next building we build at Millersville will be a LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy building. It’s time to move the climate solutions dialogue to the next level."

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