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Happy holidays from the Institute for Sustainable Solutions

Jennifer Allen, ISS director, with Jacob Sherman, ISS sustainability curriculum lead, left, and Fletcher Beaudoin, ISS assistant director at this year's "Sustainability Suite" holiday celebration. 

Greetings to all of ISS’s partners and friends! With the frenetic end to the fall term now behind us, I know we are collectively catching our breath and looking forward to spending time with friends and family before diving into a new year. 

2013 has been a significant year for Sustainability at PSU. We’ve been calling it the “year of alignment,” and while “alignment” may sound less than festive, let me tell you why it is something to celebrate. 

At PSU, we’ve always known that sustainability lives and breathes across our campus. The Institute for Sustainable Solutions seeks to serve as a hub to help connect and enable the people and programs at PSU working to better understand and engage with the social, environmental, and economic challenges and opportunities we face as a society.

This year ISS had the pleasure of working with our partners across campus on a Sustainability Playbook that lays out our multi-year goals, which are guided by two key commitments: 

  • We are committed to educating changemakers and empowering them—through an education that reaches beyond the classroom and into the community—to succeed and contribute to a more sustainable future.
  • We are committed to making our research and our teaching relevant and useful in addressing the key challenges we face as a society. 

Each of these commitments is represented by a number of specific goals, objectives, initiatives and programs, which you can review here

Here is a sampler of some of the exciting programs we initiated in 2013 that encapsulate the way we envision sustainability education and practice playing out at PSU:

  • Research to Action: We’re working hard to translate PSU research to action on the ground and to building stronger connections both among our faculty and with our community partners. We’ve hosted two symposia this year to highlight expertise and foster collaborations in urban sustainability and ecosystem services. On February 28 we’ll host a Research to Action Symposium on the topic of social determinants of health. 
  • Living Lab: Our campus has long been an urban experiment station, and our emerging Living Lab program will make it even easier for students and faculty to get involved in informing and advancing campus sustainability at PSU. 
  • Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative: An early partner in EcoDistricts research, PSU is doubling down on the implementation of sustainable solutions at the neighborhood scale. Watch for deeper partnerships and classes from a multitude of disciplines at work in Portland neighborhoods. 

Other highlights for Sustainability at PSU in 2013 include receiving a national Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature in June recognizing our innovation around education for sustainability and climate change mitigation. And in August, PSU was lauded for garnering the highest possible score in the Princeton Review ranking of leading green institutions. These are just two examples of the national recognition PSU has received in the last year. 

What’s really exciting is: we know we’re just getting started…. 

Happy New Year from all of us at ISS — we look forward to working with you in 2014.

Jennifer Allen is director of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions and an associate professor of public administration.