curf - Center for Undergraduate Research & Fellowships



Summer Opportunities

Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum

Penn’s Green Campus Partnership is now accepting student applications to the Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum’s (ISAC) Undergraduate Student Research Internships. The Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum program is an 8-week summer program that teams undergraduates with faculty who are taking part in a Sustainability Across the Curriculum Faculty Workshop in order to revise or develop a new course that incorporates sustainability as a theme in the course. Each student will be teamed with two faculty members and will work with them to help to develop their courses in a meaningful way. This may involve, but is not limited to, researching material for the course, developing new assignments, and compiling course reading lists. Throughout the summer each student research intern will be expected to:

  • Work closely with the faculty members to whom they are assigned on the development of their courses.
  • Actively participate in three mini workshops with other student research interns.
  • Present their course development in a poster session at the end of the summer.

The Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum program is a key component of the Green Campus Partnership’s ongoing efforts to encourage the entire University community to educate themselves on the critical issues of sustainability. This program is also aligned with the University’s Climate Action Plan.

The Undergraduate Research Internships within the Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum program are considered equivalent to a full-time job (40 hours a week). Interns will be paid $11 hour. The internship is eight weeks long beginning June 2nd.

Application Deadline: Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Send the following as PDFs to with “ISAC” in the subject line.

  • Resume
  • Transcript (need not be official)
  • 1-2 page statement of interest in the internship position and your preference in two of the following courses, including the reasons why you’d be a good choice to support these classes

ISAC Course Set #1

  • Architecture in the Anthropocene (Daniel Barber, Architecture, School of Design)
    • In February 2008, the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London announced that human civilization has entered a new era. The anthropocene, they indicated, is an Earth epoch defined by the emergence of urban-industrial society as a geologic force, not only impacting natural resources and the experience of nature, but also intervening, albeit mostly unwittingly, in the complex atmospheric and oceanographic systems that allow for human life to persist on the planet. The environmental threats we now face are being productively engaged by scientists, engineers, and others in the natural and social sciences. The role of the humanities in understanding the effect of the anthropocene on culture and society has also come to the fore. Humanistic research has the potential to play a vital role in fostering social awareness and informed decision-making with regard to our endangered environment. This course intends to investigate the emerging field of the environmental humanities, and analyze how these new intellectual frameworks can be useful for the history and criticism of architecture and the built environment.
  • Energy in American History (Ann Greene, History and Sociology of Science, School of Arts & Sciences)
    • This course will examine changes in energy sources, energy use, and energy technologies across American history in order to help students understand how the U.S. and the world arrived at its present situation with regard to energy, and to understand the historical context for the complex technological, environmental, social, economic, and political challenges implicit in any effort to modify the current trajectories of energy use. We will examine changes in energy use across American history, beginning with the energy basis for the lives of Indians and Europeans at the time of colonial settlement, and continuing through expanded exploitation of water and wind power, conversion to fossil fuels, and adoption of nuclear power. With each form of energy, we will look at implications of energy use for work, material culture, domestic life, transportation and communications, social relations, economic growth, and political power.

ISAC Course Set #2

  • URBS 417 – Cities & Sustainability (Ariel Ben-Amos, Urban Studies, School of Arts & Sciences)
    • Cities and Sustainability provides students an opportunity to understand how cities develop and implement sustainability initiatives. The course provides a framework to understand the linkages between politics, budgets, policy and sustainability. Guest lecturers and primary data documents provide students a direct look at the larger municipal context for sustainability in cities such as Philadelphia. Students consider issues from the politics of green buildings to the operational implementation of sustainability initiatives in transit agencies.
  • Energy Systems and Policy (Andrew Huemmler, School of Engineering & Applied Science)
    • Energy Systems & Policy is a survey course that examines the current U.S. energy industry, from production to consumption, and its impacts on local, regional, and the global environment. The course will seek to provide a fuller understanding of existing energy systems, ranging from technical overviews of each, a review of industry organization, and an exploration of the well-established policy framework each operates within.

ISAC Course Set #3

  • Legal Studies 215/815: Environmental Management, Law and Policy (Sarah Light, Wharton)
    • The law and public policy shape how business managers must think about their firms’ interactions with the environment. The primary goal of this course is to learn to think critically about:
  1. the relationship between business and the natural environment,
  2. the existing legal and policy framework of environmental protection and its effects on what business managers are charged to do, and
  3. the potential to effect change in that legal and policy environment.

The first part of the course introduces students to concepts of sustainability, and provides grounding in the foundational concepts of environmental law. The course addresses different topics in environmental law and policy, we will examine a series of case studies in which law, policy and business intersect. The course also focuses on different approaches of incorporating sustainability into business practices, including through lifecycle analysis and environmental management systems.

  • Legal Studies 612: Responsibility in Professional Services (Sarah Light, Wharton and Eric Orts, Wharton)
    • This course uses a professional services context to introduce students to important ethical and legal challenges they will face as leaders in such fields as financial services, health care, real estate, and consulting. However, the scope is not limited to these contexts and will be equally useful to students preparing for any managerial position that is likely to place them in advisory and/or agency roles owing duties to employers, clients, suppliers, and customers. This course will include a strong focus on issues of environmental corporate social responsibility.

ISAC Course Set #4

  • Toward Sustainability at Penn (Dan Garofalo, Earth & Environmental Science and Penn’s Sustainability Director)
    • This course will focus on sustainability from an institutional perspective – specifically, a review the activities of the Green Campus Partnership, Penn’s umbrella organization that guides sustainability efforts and explores ways to further goals. Class discussions and lectures will provide an intellectual and academic framework for our investigations, and a series of guest talks by practicing environmental professionals and University administrators will contribute a professional perspective on the challenges of greening organizations. Along the way, we will attempt to define what we mean by campus sustainability.
  • Microbial Fuel Cells investigation (Karen Hogan. Department of Biology, School of Arts and Sciences)
    • The development of sustainable green technologies requires that varied disciplines work together to solve complex problems. BIOL376/576: Microbial Diversity and Pathogenesis Lab and FNAR268/568: Integrative Design Studio represent a collaboration of Penn’s Biology, Design, and Education faculty to focus students from the sciences and humanities on the application of microbiology in alternative energy technologies. Students enrolled in these classes will spend part of the Spring 2014 semester constructing Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs), which are environmental samples containing bacteria that serve as catalysts to convert biodegradable material into electricity. This collaboration teaches students the underlying principles of microbiology, design, and green technologies through directed readings, and through in-depth laboratory experimentation / studio time.

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