Three areas of focus define sound Policy Institute programs.
1. Experiential and community-based university curriculum around environmental issues
Local Watersheds inform Salmon Restoration Projects
Students meet with guests representing more than a dozen community groups in the Introduction to the Environment class (ENVR 200). 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 the 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 a 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 replicated process 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
During Puget Sound’s spring break, this yearly event 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, the 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 various 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.