Institute for Sustainable Maryland would connect Maryland communities with University resources to tackle real-world challenges
Last month, the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth brought together state and local leaders, special interest groups, policy experts and faculty to explore the opportunity to develop a new program that would combine student ingenuity, cutting edge research and faculty expertise, and offer a fresh look at the unique challenges that face Maryland’s communities. Modeled after the University of Oregon’s Sustainable City Year Program, the proposed Institute for Sustainable Maryland would combine efforts and expertise of several existing University Centers, with targeted course work, student manpower and faculty expertise, and serve as the leading source for sustainable practice, training and assistance for state and local governments.
“The institute would be unlike anything proposed at the University, in that it pools the intellectual resources of the entire University and channels those resources to create practical, attainable solutions for Maryland communities,” said Gerrit Knaap, Director of the National Center for Smart Growth. “It is an integral part of our responsibility as a land-grant university as well as a commitment to provide an active learning environment to our students.”
Sponsored by the Town Creek Foundation and the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, the symposium was the University’s first step in forging a conversation with stakeholders at state and local levels. Faculty and local government leaders from the Sustainable City Year Program, as well as other universities running similar programs, presented detailed case studies of their successful active learning and outreach programs, demonstrating the profound impact of a university-community partnership. Oregon’s program, established in 2010, has received numerous awards as well as critical acclaim for re-thinking sustainable education and community outreach. Similar programs have been launched at the University of Iowa, Penn State University and the University of Minnesota.
“The symposium was a productive first step in realizing the idea of combining active learning and sustainability at University of Maryland,” said David Cronrath, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “We are encouraged by the support this idea has had on campus and across the State.” Nico Larco, Professor and Co-Director of the University of Oregon's Sustainable City Year Program speaks about the impact of their program at "Towards an Institute for Sustainable Maryland," a day-long symposium sponsored by the National Center for Smart Growth.
For more information on the Institute for Sustainable Maryland, visit the National Center for Smart Growth’s website.