STEM Engaged Learning
Campus as a Living Lab Links


In July 2012, the National Socio-Economic Synthesis Center (SESYNC) convened a meeting of delegates from five states: California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, and New Mexico. The purpose of the meeting was to help representatives from each of the five states determine policy and state level strategies to effect changes in offering science education. Meeting goals also included connecting initiatives on climate change and educational change, and connecting with the National Academies and the National Science Foundation through state work on STEM education. State policy structures were identified as important in the work to change university systems.

The California delegation, made up of staff from the CSU Divisions of Business and Finance, Academic Affairs, and members of the Systemwide Academic Senate, chose to focus on the California State University system and discussed current research that demonstrates when real world problems are infused into basic science education, students become more engaged, learn more effectively, and solutions are generated to address some of the more difficult planetary problems. With the amount of climate change and sustainability-related work taking place on CSU campuses, the team decided to create a program that allowed for the integration of curriculum and the physical campus, leading to the creation of the ‘Campus as a Living Lab’ initiative.

The ‘Campus as a Living Lab’ initiative is a unique opportunity to partner faculty and facilities management staff in using the campus as a forum for the exploration of sustainability concepts and theories. The program aligns the California State University’s long-standing commitment to sustainability with the fundamental goal of preparing students for the workforce.

After holding two regional symposia on the concept of ‘the campus as a living lab’ for CSU faculty and staff in spring 2013, the CSU put out a call for proposals to ignite creativity and collaboration. Details of the program can be found in the ‘Campus as a Living Lab’ Grant Program Request for Proposals webpage.