Sound Policy Institute Programs

Sound Policy Institute programs are defined by three areas of focus. 

1. Experiential and community based university curriculum around environmental issues

Local Watersheds inform Salmon Restoration Projects

In the Introduction to the Environment class (ENVR 200) students meet with guests representing more than a dozen community groups. Through a series of field experiences, students explore the Nisqually and Puyallup river watersheds (Puyallup, Nisqually, Muckleshoot, and Yakama ancestral lands) from headwaters to estuaries. These experiences inform group work on salmon restoration projects.

Sailboats and Wind Turbines

Quarter unit “mini-courses” bring students together with the community for field experiences, which have included sailing trips focused on Salish Sea issues and an eastern Washington (Yakama and Wanapum ancestral lands) trip focused on wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power.

Environmental Policy in Tacoma’s Tideflats (Puyallup Ancestral Lands)

Fundamentals of Environmental Law and Policy (ENVR 210) focuses on the nuts and bolts of past and current environmental law and policy. Starting in 2019 we strengthened our focus on sense of place and environmental issues in urban settings: All field experiences for ENVR 210 were focused on seeing how environmental laws and policies have shaped the Tideflats area of Tacoma (Puyallup Ancestral Lands).  The new components included meeting in the field with the Puyallup Tribe, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the Port of Tacoma, and the City of Tacoma. 

2. Supporting faculty across academic disciplines and institutions in integrating sustainability into teaching and learning 

Washington State Environmental Education Curriculum

In 2006-2007, Sound Policy Institute worked with E3 Washington to model a community process to redesign the state’s environmental education curriculum--a process that was replicated in each Washington county.

Multicultural Environmental Education Workshops

In 2016, Sound Policy Institute worked with the Environmental Justice Division of the Environmental Protection Agency to offer Multicultural Environmental Education workshops for area educators.

Curriculum for the Bioregion

Between 2006 and 2015, Sound Policy Institute worked with the Curriculum for the Bioregion initiative to offer 5 workshops serving hundreds of faculty in integrating sustainability into the higher education curriculum.

3. Life-long environmental learning in collaboration with our community

topics in Environmental Justice Course (ENVR 353)

Sound Policy Institute partnered with Professor Rachel DeMotts fin 2019 and 2020 or the first offerings of ENVR 253 Topics in Environmental Justice which expands teaching and learning around environmental justice. This course is highly engaging, open to community and campus members, and features speakers and workshops led by community members.

The Children’s Water Festival with the Pierce Conservation District

This yearly event during Puget Sound’s spring break brings together about 700 5th graders from Pierce County Schools on Puget Sound’s campus to learn about water quality and conservation. The event also involves 115 volunteers from 44 organizations.

Waste Reduction Task Force

From 2006 to 2008, Sound Policy Institute worked with the City of Tacoma to form a Waste Reduction Task Force that used social science research to develop tours and how-to classes for residential and commercial audiences.

The Green Tacoma Partnership

Sound Policy Institute partnered with Forterra, MetroParks, City of Tacoma, Pierce Conservation District and community groups to support a restoration plan for urban green space in Tacoma. The Green Tacoma Partnership shared guidance and knowledge so that community efforts would be effective in the long-term. Puget Sound students were involved in volunteer efforts to care for green spaces.

Other events and partnerships

Sound Policy Institute partners with on- and off-campus groups to host a variety of events open to the public throughout the year. In recent years these have included an online presentation on The Canoe Journeys, an Environmental Policy panel attended by over 100 people, a talk on Southern Resident Killer Whales, a film screening and panel on Wolves in Washington, and a storytelling event at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum among others.