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Faculty team wins $75,000 innovation grant

Chair and Associate Professor of Journalism and Professional Writing Kathleen Webber and colleagues Miriam Shakow (Sociology & Anthropology), Project Lead; Faculty Co-Leads: Wendy Clement (Biology), Louise Ammentorp (Elementary Education) recently won a $75,000, three year innovation grant to establish a “Campus as a Living Lab,” also known as CaLL.

CaLL is a conceptual and institutional framework for using a college campus’ operations as core spaces for student-learning oriented toward environmental sustainability and social justice, that facilitate coordination between faculty, staff and students. This interdisciplinary program at TCNJ would draw together the whole campus community building upon and enhancing current efforts, to increase high-impact learning on climate change and environmental sustainability, while raising the profile of the college regionally and nationally. 

“I am very excited to work with faculty and students on projects that will engage them in the solution process to make our campus more environmentally sustainable,” Webber said. “Climate change is one of the most pressing problems of our time and college campuses are like small cities and we can use them as labs for learning.”

The grant would hopefully culminate in TCNJ attaining a Gold STARS rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the most reputable and comprehensive higher education organization in the country. A Campus as a Living Lab Program and STARS rating would place TCNJ at the forefront of sustainability in nationally recognized higher education institutions — and that is the goal.

The team currently has four smaller teams working on landscaping, transportation, air quality and communication. With the four working in tandem, the campus can undergo a comprehensive transformation — fostering sustainability, accessibility and a healthier environment for everyone who interacts with it.

“The landscape team hopes to start an organic landscape management pilot program and plant native plants and pollinator gardens. The transportation team wants to look at a proposal to redesign campus entrances to make them pedestrian and cyclist-friendly. The air quality and heat islands team wants to monitor the air quality on campus and the communication team will work on educating and creating awareness via a website, social media and signage around campus,” Webber said. 

Their goal is to share what they are already doing like water filling stations, energy production via solar panels and native gardens as well as what they plan to do in the future.

“We would like sustainability to be part of our campus culture,” Webber said.

– Riley Eisenbeil ’24


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The College of New Jersey
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Ewing, NJ 08628


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