Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum

Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum (ISAC) Program was established in 2012 to help Penn faculty introduce environmental sustainability into existing and new courses.  Faculty participants explore sustainability concepts at a one-day workshop in the late spring, and then are partnered with an undergraduate student research assistant to work over the summer integrating sustainability into the course syllabi, lectures, assignments, reading material, and tests.  The research assistants work 40 hours a week for eight weeks starting in June, and are paid by funds made available by the Academics Subcommittee of Penn’s Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee.

Faculty Proposal Details
Student Application Details

Deadline: February 13, 2015 NOW CLOSED-THANK YOU

 Deadline: March 17, 2015

Penn’s Climate Action Plan, our roadmap for sustainability, was produced in 2009 and recently updated in October 2014. Among the recommendations of Climate Action Plan 2.0 is a particular focus on support for Penn faculty in this area.

One existing program, now in its 4th year, is Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum — a means for faculty to integrate elements of sustainability into new or existing courses. Faculty participants work with a paid undergraduate summer research assistant to revise course content, adjust syllabi, change presentation materials and reading lists, modify exams, and more. An introduction to the 8-week summer program and guidance will be provided at an early May faculty workshop.

To apply, submit a one-page proposal that

  • describes the existing or proposed course;
  • indicates the reason for integrating or enhancing sustainability in the course; and
  • includes a brief work plan for a student research assistant.

Download the Faculty guidelines document (PDF).

Student Applications Open February 16, 2015 and will be accepted through March 17, 2015.

The Research Internships within the Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum program are considered equivalent to a full-time job (35-40 hours a week). Interns will be paid $11 hour.  The internship is eight weeks long beginning June 1, 2015.

How To Apply
Send the following as PDFs to with “ISAC 2015” in the subject line: 

  • Resume
  • Transcript (need not be official)
  • 1-2 page statement of interest in the internship position and your first and second choice of course sets (listed below) to work on this summer, including the reasons why you’d be a good choice to support these classes:

ISAC Course Set #1
Legal Studies 215/815:  Environmental Management, Law and Policy
HSPV 572 - Preservation Through Public Policy

ISAC Course Set #2
Chemistry 101
CHEM 251 – Principles of Biochemistry  

ISAC Course Set #3
Dynamics 615 - Global Pennovation
Energy in American History

Download the Student Application Guidelines document (PDF) for more detailed course descriptions.


Previous Years Program Information
ISAC Program 2014

Eight professors and four students participated in the Summer 2014 program:

  • Architecture in the Anthropocene (Daniel Barber, Architecture, School of Design)
  • Energy in American History (Ann Greene, History and Sociology of Science, School of Arts & Sciences)   
  • Cities & Sustainability (Ariel Ben-Amos, Urban Studies, School of Arts & Sciences)
  • Energy Systems and Policy  (Andrew Huemmler, School of Engineering & Applied Science)
  • Legal Studies 215/815:  Environmental Management, Law and Policy (Sarah Light, Wharton)
  • Legal Studies 612: Responsibility in Professional Services (Sarah Light, Wharton and Eric Orts, Wharton)
  • Toward Sustainability at Penn (Dan Garofalo, Earth & Environmental Science and Penn’s Sustainability Director)
  • Microbial Fuel Cells investigation (Karen Hogan, Department of Biology, School of Arts and Sciences)
ISAC 2014 Posters

Cities & Sustainability;
Energy Systems and Policy

Toward Sustainability at Penn  Microbial Fuel Cells Investigation
ISAC Program 2013 

Four professors and two students participated in the Summer 2013 program:

  • Sustainability in Practice (Mark Alan Hughes and Leslie Billhymer, Design) - The focus of this course is on the interaction of policy and design residing in the footprint of Penn Design and its academic programs (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Historic Preservation, City and Regional Planning, Fine Arts, and Urban Spatial Analysis).
  • Cities & Sustainability (Ariel Ben-Amos, Urban Studies) - Cities and Sustainability endeavors to expose students to the methods of implementing environmentally sustainable policies in big cities across the United States.  The course also reviews issues relating to sustainable development and transportation policy as well agency management. 
  • Principles of Sustainability Science (Alain Plante, Earth and Environmental Science) - The objective is to develop a new course to provide an in-depth analysis of the foundational concepts, principles, processes and practices of sustainability science. The course will explore three foundational laws governing sustainability: the law of limits to growth, the second law of thermodynamics, and the law of self-organization. Students will examine how these laws operate at various spatial and temporal scales in biological, ecological, and physical systems, and will then apply them to social, economic and political systems
  • Climate Policy & Technology (Andrew Huemmler, Engineering) - The goal of the course is to have students appreciate technologies available and the scale of implementation required to effectively address the climate problem. In addition, requisite governmental policies to advance and implement these technologies are addressed. These range from encouraging behavioral change, to a carbon tax or cap & trade, to increased R&D funding. Local, regional, national, and international initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are also reviewed.
ISAC 2013 Posters
Sustainability in Practice;
Cities & Sustainability
Principles of Sustainability Science;
Climate Policy & Technology

Read the On College Green article about the 2013 ISAC program.

ISAC 2012 Program

Ten professors and six students participated in the ISAC 2012 program.

  • Environmental Chemistry (Marsha Lester, Chemistry) 
  • Landscape Sustainability (Doug Jerolmack, Earth and Environmental Science) 
  • Sustainable Goods (James Hagan, Earth and Environmental Science) 
  • Construction Technology 1 (Franca Trubiano, Design) 
  • Critical Approaches to Popular Culture (Felicity Paxton, Communications) 
  • Utopian Visions (Bethany Wiggin, German)
  • History of Coca to Cocaine (Ann Farnsworth, History)
  • Educating for Sustainability (Liz MacKenzie, Education)
  • Metropolitan Nature (Michael Nairn, Urban Studies) 
  • Introduction to Economics (Rebecca Stein, Economics) 

Student research assistants prepared poster presentations at the end of the program.

Summer 2012 ISAC Student Posters
Critical Approaches to Popular Culture;
Sustainable Goods
Construction Technology I;
Metropolitan Nature
Environmental Chemistry;
Landscape Sustainability
Introduction to MicroEconomics

Read the On College Green article about the ISAC 2012 Program.