Subject: Students Adding Fall Classes Can Now Add Real-World Practice

Students Adding Fall Classes Can Now Add Real-World Practice
PALS-designated courses trade the classroom for community, offering
real-world exercises for students
August 25, 2015

College Park, Md. — Students fine-tuning their fall course loads this month
might notice something different in a number of UMD class descriptions: a
PALS program designation, signaling courses that double as a civic exercise.
Launching its second year this fall with a partnership in Howard County, the
Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability, or PALS program—, which
offers students an opportunity to apply their program knowledge to real-world
challenges facing Maryland communities — is offering 29
sustainability–oriented courses campus-wide for both graduate and
undergraduate students.

Find the full course roster for PALS 2015-16 here.

“We are very excited about the number and variety of coursework this
semester,” said Uri Avin, the program’s director. “PALS is not your
typical classroom experience. Students will be engaging in real issues in
sustainable practice, with the course results helping to shape outcomes
within the community.”

Developed by the University’s National Center for Smart Growth, PALS pairs
faculty expertise with student ingenuity to tackle sustainability issues
facing Maryland communities. PALS partners with one or two communities each
academic year, matching customized coursework with the specific challenges
described by the partner community. Offering on-the-ground civic engagement,
PALS coursework not only provides a living case study for students, it offers
a rewarding social experience and best mirrors future professional
interactions within their disciplines. PALS initiated its first partnership
with The City of Frederick, Maryland in September of 2014, adding a second,
smaller collaboration with College Park in January. The partnership with
Howard County makes PALS the largest action-learning program in the country.

“The exercises we completed in this class were unlike any I’ve ever
experienced in or outside academic work,” said UMD Junior Matthew Reilly,
whose College Park Scholars course created a composting and organics recovery
plan for Frederick restaurants last semester.

Past PALS courses have tackled a variety of sustainability issues, including
water quality, small business growth and greenhouse gas emissions. Students
actively engage with community stakeholders throughout the semester to
develop recommendations, critical information and discovery. Trading the
classroom for the community also creates a forum for cross-disciplinary
learning, where students and faculty from a variety of disciplines can draw
on one another’s’ unique skills, leverage information and data and offer
valuable perspectives.

“What sets PALS courses apart from a typical learning experience is that we
are working in tandem with all these other courses across campus,” said
Assistant Professor of Architecture Jana Vandergoot, who is teaching her
second PALS course this fall. “We’ve had so many great interactions
between faculty and students from other programs. It’s been a bit of a
game-changer for my students.”

To learn more about the PALS program, visit the program website.

Contact: Maggie Haslam
University of Maryland
[log in to unmask] / 202-258-8946

Contact Person: Maggie Haslam
Contact Email: [log in to unmask]