South Sound Environmental Issues Community Education Initiative
The South Sound Environmental Issues Course offered each fall provides a forum where students and community members engage with environmental groups and elected officials to discuss key environmental bills affecting our region. One component of this course is a workshop designed to facilitate citizen participation in politics. This initiative is offered through partnership with the Mountaineers Foundation, Washington Environmental Council, League of Conservation Voters, and Pierce Conservation Voters.
Community and Campus Environmental Needs Assessment This research focuses on community perceptions of environmental issues in our region by conducting content analysis of the last ten years of print media coverage and interviews with more than twenty environmental stakeholders. The results of this research reveal the prioritization of various environmental issues in our region and identify resources available to deal with such issues. The data collected will also serve a number of policy related courses in the environmental policy and decision making program.
Green Tacoma Partnership
The university continues to partner with Forterra, MetroParks, City of Tacoma, Pierce Conservation District and community groups to support the comprehensive management and restoration plan for urban green space in Tacoma. Tacoma’s urban green spaces are owned by a variety of government agencies and private landowners and more than a dozen community groups have formed to manage and/or restore such spaces. The work of the Green Tacoma Partnership ensures that these community efforts are executed with proper permits, guidance, and knowledge to ensure long-term effectiveness and success. Our students are involved in volunteer efforts to care for these spaces.
Faculty Workshops on Sustainability in the Curriculum
This Environmental Decision-Making and Policy Initiative has conducted faculty workshops on the integration of environmental sustainability into course work at Puget Sound. These events draw the participation of faculty members from many academic majors and programs. Events include presentation and discussion on the concept of sustainability and our university’s commitment under the Talloires Declaration, invited presenters on sustainability efforts on campus, and from the wider Pierce County community, and small group sessions designed to encourage development of new class content related to sustainability.
Tour on Toxic Issues in TacomaThe Institute partnered with the Washington Center at Evergreen State College, in 2009 to host a field trip focused on the Commencement Bay Superfund clean-up experience, environmental justice concerns and the story of Ruston's transition from "company town to condo village". Twenty-five faculty members from local colleges and universities in western Washington led by leaders from the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, Citizens for a Healthy Bay and Solutions for Humanity, Community and Environment (environmental justice organization) participated in the field trip.
Campus-Community Sustainability Partnership
The purpose of this initiative was to foster collaboration between the University of Puget Sound’s campus community and the surrounding business and residential neighborhoods to encourage waste source reduction. The resulting partnership identified best practices for waste reduction, the social and behavioral factors that encourage best practices, and environmental and economic indicators to track progress on campus and in the surrounding community. The focus, of which was on individual environmental decision-making as it affects environmental sustainability. This general approach applies social science research to identify: the existing barriers that prevent people from adopting best practices for environmental sustainability, the means to reduce these barriers, and the benefits that will encourage the best practices.
Leadership Summit on Environmental Education
On March 31, 2006, more than 100 diverse stakeholders in life-long environmental education, including business leaders, elected officials, teachers, parents, students, media representatives and community leaders, came together on the University of Puget Sound campus to address the question: “What educational opportunities are needed to ensure that all current and future Pierce County residents have a vibrant, prosperous and livable community?” The Environmental Decision-Making and Policy Initiative convened an executive planning team of leaders in environmental education at the city and county levels to organize this event. This team was selected to develop and host a pilot workshop that is now being replicated statewide under the “E3 Washington Thrives” initiative (Education, Environment, Economy), co-chaired by Governor Christine Gregoire and former EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus. This was an effort to develop a Comprehensive Environmental Education Plan for Washington State, the need for which was identified in the Report Card on the Status of Environmental Education in Washington—an inquiry requested by the Washington State Legislature. The state-wide adoption of the Pierce County pilot summit was launched by Governor Gregoire at a press event September 22, 2007, at the Landmark Theater in Tacoma.
Sustainability Connection Event
This event, hosted by the University of Puget Sound on Saturday, April 28, 2007, brought together 100 participants for a full day of workshops centered around the question, “what are the essential relationships between the environmental, reproductive health, and social justice movements?” Participants worked to develop solutions that would: 1.) encourage sustainable choices for consumers, 2.) connect local and global strategies for sustainable development, and 3.) build bridges among diverse interests in our community. Workshop topics included rights-based approaches to family planning and reproductive health; sustainable agriculture and the future of organics; environmental justice and the health of Washington communities; informed food choices for Washington consumers; women, population and the environment, and creative activism through the arts. The event planning team was lead by Puget Sound students and involved faculty, students and leaders from the environmental, reproductive health, and social justice movements in western Washington.