The University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) announces the launch of the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS), a new university-wide initiative that will pool the intellectual resources and ingenuity of the entire university to offer a fresh look at the specific challenges facing Maryland’s communities. The program will officially commence this fall with a partnership with the City of Frederick, Maryland.
PALS is the first initiative of its kind for the University of Maryland. Created with support from the Office of the Provost, the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the UMD Office of Sustainability, the program’s mission is to offer students an active, “on the ground” learning environment by helping Maryland communities become more sustainable places to live, work and play. Through targeted, custom coursework and faculty engagement, the program enlists a host of disciplines that will provide fresh solutions for individual partner communities. Modeled after the University of Oregon’s City Year program, PALS offers affordable, useable and high-quality advice for partner communities while providing valuable exercises in critical thinking, real-world problem solving and community engagement for UMD students. With coursework tailored to reflect specific community challenges, a variety of issues can be addressed, including water conservation, attracting new employers, creating health and wellness programs, leveraging social media, engaging immigrant and minority communities and much more.
Discussions have begun with City of Frederick officials and UMD faculty to target which needs will be addressed this coming fall. Meanwhile, a beta test of the program is currently underway in Salisbury, Maryland. The project, dubbed “Envision Salisbury,” has partnered 50 graduate and undergraduate students in architecture with the town’s residents as Salisbury develops a master plan for downtown revitalization.
“We are extremely excited about this new program which will not only help Maryland communities become more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, but will help provide a new generation of students with a practical experience in working with local communities” says Gerrit Knaap, Director of the National Center for Smart Growth. “We can’t wait to begin work with our new partners in Frederick, Maryland.”
To learn more about PALS, visit the National Center for Smart Growth website http://www.smartgrowth.umd.edu/