Colleges and universities

Global Warming Science

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2014.

MIT OpenCourseWare, a free online education initiative, was launched in 2002. Starting with 50 courses, by 2007 the university had posted over 1,800 courses in 33 academic disciplines. This revealing undergraduate module, based on a class taught by four MIT professors in 2012, focuses on the fundamental physical processes that shape climate. The course also covers evidence of past and present climate change, an overview of climate models, and discussions of climate change consequences. Navigating the system is easy. Begin with the Course Home page; then look over the Syllabus and Calendar before browsing the Readings, Lecture Notes, Assignments, and Projects.

Free online courses available through, a free online education platform, aims to provide high-quality, massive open online education in collaboration with the member institutions and partners of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2012, SDSN mobilizes scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable development problem solving at local, national, and global scales. currently offers three courses. Links and brief descriptions appear below.

  • The Age of Sustainable Development gives students an understanding of the key challenges and pathways to sustainable development – that is, economic development that is also socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.
  • Climate Change Science and Negotiations is a two-semester course, with the first semester launching in fall 2014. During the first semester, you will learn about solutions to deeply decarbonize the global energy systems, and put the world on a 2°C pathway and how they can be applied in different national contexts, based on the results from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP), a global initiative to show how countries can transition to a low carbon economy by 2050, and how the world can stay within the 2°C limit. The second semester of the course, which will open for registration in late fall 2014, will be a dynamic online climate change negotiation. The negotiation will be  modeled on the real negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which are scheduled to reach an agreement in Paris in December 2015, at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21). The outcomes of the second semester simulated negotiations will be presented to global leaders in advance of COP21.
  • Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities gives students an overview of a range of emerging concepts within sustainability science, like the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries, and resilience. These concepts are at the core of contemporary research and debate on global sustainability. They are key to frame and understand rapidly changing trends in global environmental change caused by humans, and to assess responses that aim at reversing global environmental change. They also help exploring pathways for ensuring safe and just human wellbeing for present and future generations.

Webinar: Greening Your Lab

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 11am-noon
Register at

Representatives from Harvard University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute will discuss various ways in which they have worked towards reducing the energy impact of labs on campus.

GreenerU recognizes that there are many barriers to achieving sustainability in labs. In order to create a lasting impact, it is important for colleges and universities to tackle these issues with an integrated plan that addresses both technological and behavioral change.  Our speakers will discuss different ways to achieve this goal.

By joining our webinar, you will learn about different techniques used by GreenerU at WPI and methods used by Harvard University  to address lab sustainability through:

  • Managing laboratory ventilation and comfort
  • Lab equipment operation and configuration
  • Engaging lab users to maximize results
  • Managing implementation in active lab buildings

12th Annual P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces the posting of the Request for Applications, People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Award Program, with the goal to research, develop and design solutions to real world challenges involving the overall sustainability of human society. The P3 competition supports scientific and technological research efforts to create innovative projects focused on sustainability. The P3 Award program was developed to foster progress toward sustainability by achieving the mutual goals of improved quality of life, economic prosperity and protection of the planet- people, prosperity, and the planet – the three pillars of sustainability. The EPA offers the P3 competition in order to respond to the technical needs of the world while moving towards the goal of sustainability. Applications will be accepted from September 5-December 16, 2014.

Supporting the development of sustainable methods is in line with the Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC) Research Program. EPA’s SHC Research Program provides useful science and tools for decision makers at all levels to help communities advance sustainability as well as achieve regulatory compliance. SHC is collaborating with partners to conduct research that will result in science-based knowledge to guide decisions that will better sustain a healthy society and environment in America’s communities. The research is intended for decision-makers at the federal, regional, state and community levels.

Registration for EPA’s Campus Rainworks Challenge now open

Registration for EPA’s Campus Rainworks Challenge opened September 2, 2014. Student teams, working with a faculty advisor, will submit design boards, a project narrative and a letter of support describing a proposed green infrastructure project for their college campus. Registrants must submit their entries by December 19, 2014. Learn more about the challenge and register at

Green Rating Questioned

Read the full story in Inside Higher Education.

Colleges are routinely getting credit for complying with environmental standards they may not have met, a new report by the Sustainable Endowments Institute suggests.

The institute examined 178 colleges’ responses to a national rating system designed to measure a college’s environmental policies.

In about two-thirds of those cases, colleges submitted inconsistent or incomplete data to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System – but the colleges still got credit for complying with the system’s sustainability standards, according to the report.

Illinois Water Resources Center Annual Small Grants: Student Research Awards 2015 Call for Proposals

Due: Friday, October 31, 2014

The Illinois Water Resources Center (IWRC) requests proposals to fund promising graduate and undergraduate student research projects addressing Illinois water resources. We are particularly interested in projects that seek solutions for or provide novel identification of pressing water concerns in Illinois. PI’s can request up to $10,000. Project duration is March 1, 2015-February 28, 2016.

For more information visit:


Lisa Merrifield