University of Pennsylvania "Commons" Creates Global Learning Connections for Environmental Sustainability

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Media Contact:Jill DiSanto-Haines | jdisanto@upenn.edu | 215-898-4820February 10, 2009

PHILADELPHIA — The University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies has launched the LPS Open Learning Commons, an interactive online learning platform that incorporates social networking.

The Commons is a new model that allows anyone who is interested in viewing the lectures and participating in the forum to do so, regardless of enrollment status, education level or geographic location.

The first course being offered on the Commons is Global Environmental Sustainability, a prototype involving undergraduates and faculty from Penn, as well as students from other universities around the world, including Kyung Hee University in Seoul and Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. In fact, anyone in the global intellectual community who wishes to participate in the discussion may do so.

The United Nations issued a call for institutions of higher education everywhere to collaborate in the World Civic Forum, which focuses on ways to devise governance systems within and between nations to create and implement policies related to climate change. The Commons Global Environmental Sustainability course will engage interested parties around the world to contribute to this solution-oriented discussion.

Undergraduates who have enrolled in the course will present their research projects at the United Nations’ World Civic Forum in Seoul in May.

Lectures will be available online through the Commons, the LPS YouTube channel, as well as through iTunesU. Online participants can take polls, view and comment on student-led blogs, contribute to community discussion forums, view the course syllabus and reading list and engage with Penn and partner-institution students and faculty as well as other professionals in the field of global sustainability.

“A critical concept in the LPS Commons is opening the windows of opportunity in this new learning environment,” Marni Baker Stein, the director of program development at the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, said. “This will allow participants beyond students enrolled in a particular course, program or even university to join the debate and create a global discussion that crosses national, international and cultural barriers.”

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