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Posts Tagged ‘SEED Center’

By Candy Center, SEED Center Consultant and Todd Cohen, Director of the SEED Center (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerThe American Association of Community Colleges’ SEED Center Mentor Connect program pairs best-in-class green colleges with “mentee” colleges in an effort to more swiftly enhance programs that prepare students for careers in clean energy and green fields.

The SEED Center created this pilot mentoring project in response to a growing demand from its 471 colleges seekingSEED Logo more in-depth technical assistance. “We realized the best way to replicate some of the great sustainability-related practices we were finding on college campuses was through a structured program that would leverage the expertise of our growing pool of community college experts and create peer-to-peer networking opportunities,” said Todd Cohen, director of the SEED Center.

Mentee colleAACC Logoges created project plans and outcomes and secured senior administrative support for their participation. Mentors were matched with mentees based on need and fit and over a period of nine months engaged in a series of working conference calls and, in some cases, site visits.

Actions focused on a range of clean tech workforce development and broader sustainability curriculum efforts. Some colleges devised strategies to more effectively engage regional employers in current or new program design while others began college-wide efforts to embed sustainability concepts into core curriculum.

The pilot project has created some significant early successes including a coordinated 14-college effort in Kentucky to train automotive faculty to infuse hybrid and alternative fuels technologies into their programs. While the peer-to-peer technical assistance has been effective, it is the potential for these partnerships to become long-term relationships that is most exciting.

Monroe Community College/Los Angeles Trade-Technical CollegeScreen shot 2013-02-06 at 12.03.59 PM

Monroe Community College (MCC) has offered a number of renewable and clean energy courses but was looking to invigorate and expand these and related degree offerings to more closely match employer needs in the New York Finger Lakes region.  Through the Mentor Connect program MCC focused on two project goals:

1) Identify new appropriate building science and alternative energy programs, and; 2) Grow enrollment in MCC’s newly developed Solar Thermal Certificate, including identifying new certificates that will be fully transferable into existing HVAC and construction technology degree programs.

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 1.15.21 PMMCC is now implementing a strategy used by several community colleges, including Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, to leverage industry certifications and competencies creating “stackable” certificates with career pathways.   With this model, students complete aligned foundational competencies and receive academic certificates and/or industry certifications which can be “stacked” into an associate’s degree. The model, which has proven to be successful in helping student achievement, has only just begun to be adapted to sustainability-related industry sectors.

In a series of conversations, LATTC mentors worked with MCC staff to use LATTC’s forthcoming tool Defining Your College’s Competitive Advantage in the Emerging Green Economy:  A Blueprint for Building High Quality, Green Programs of Study.  The tool helped MCC assess external factors—from industry incentives to state policy to their community appetite for sustainability—that would likely determine which clean tech industry sectors might be high-growth sectors, and thus, worthy of further college training investment.

MCC has now set a path to adapt its new solar thermal technology certificate program to prepare students to become technicians Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 1.31.49 PMskilled in the design, installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems. MCC’s certificate program offers a curriculum that reflects industry standards and provides a pathway to an A.A. S. degree in heating, ventilation and air conditioning/refrigeration. The connections forged as part of the Mentor Connect cohort enabled MCC to evaluate new programming opportunities and to create continuing connections between the two colleges. LATTC program chairs will share curricular materials with MCC departments to assist MCC as they revise and adapt their renewable and clean energy curriculum.

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By Kate Gordon, Director of Advanced Energy & Sustainability at the Center for the Next Generation, and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
(This article appears in the October, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerI’ve spent many years making the case that transitioning to a greener, more advanced energy economy will create jobs, spur economic growth and put America on a path toward global technological leadership. But lately, I’ve been thinking that I’ve placed too much emphasis on the stuff side of this equation—the need for investment in the products that make up the greener economy, like the wind farms, smart grid systems and efficient cars—and not enough on the people side—the high-quality workforce that can actually dream up, make, and install all that stuff. What does America need provided in advanced education, experience, and skills in order to prepare a workforce of students to meet the needs of the new green economy?

My colleague, Ann O’Leary, tends to focus her work on people more than on stuff, and she knows well that education and training are absolutely fundamental to any strategy for economic growth.  She has a new report out, jointly produced and co-authored by The Center for the Next Generation and the Center for American Progress (CAP), showing that our primary international competitors, China and India, are gearing up to seize a larger share of the future economy through greater investments in education. That report, “The Competition That Really Matters,” compares U.S., Chinese and Indian investments in the next-generation workforce. The research shows that a highly ambitious commitment to education is the heart of economic revitalization in China and India, leading them to expand the number of children enrolled at all levels of the education system, producing up to five times as many college graduates each year.

Meanwhile, approximately 44 percent of American workers do not have any education beyond high school. By 2018, only 36 percent of jobs will be open to workers with a high school diploma, while 63 percent will require at least some form of post-secondary education. The math is simple. At this pace, we will fall well behind the competition—and forfeit lucrative jobs in the process.  What does this mean? Americans run the risk of consigning another generation to low-skill, low-wage jobs—and higher rates of poverty.

Given these sobering results, Ann and her co-authors, Donna Cooper and Adam Hersh, argue that the American education system needs a shot in the arm. They contend that we need to make human capital investments, especially in young people—and that investing in education will yield the highest rate of return.

I think they’re right, but I also think that for a green economy, we need to go a step further.

The emerging advanced energy economy worldwide is already creating millions of jobs and generating trillions of dollars in economic activity. These jobs run the gamut — research and development, engineering, architecture, advanced manufacturing, construction, operations and maintenance. They provide well-paid opportunities for low-, middle- and high-skill workers.

Figure 1: From “Preparing America’s Workforce for Jobs in the Green Economy: A Case for Technical Literacy”, Center for American Progress April 2011

But is the American higher education system educating and training Americans to be able to access these jobs?  Talk to employers across the advanced energy spectrum, and they’ll tell you we don’t have a workforce capable of matching job needs, especially in the manufacturing and construction sectors, which comprise nearly half of the new energy economy. Not only do we need to provide better access to educate our children, we need to better prepare our future workforce for highly technical and skill-based jobs in the emerging energy sector.

In the past, we’ve addressed this issue in large part by splitting up our educational goals and our workforce training goals.  Different federal agencies work on K-12 education (Department of Education) and on training programs for specific industries and occupations (Department of Labor).  In the schools that have tried to incorporate both, we’ve too often seen a split between the “academic” tracks and the “vocational” tracks, forcing students to choose between hands-on careers and academic studies even before they’ve had a chance to show their own particular interests or potential.

There has to be a better way.  We need our graduates with skills to become journeyman electricians installing large solar arrays as well as with the intellectual tools for a career as a Ph.D. engineer designing new and more efficient future projects.

My former CAP colleagues, Louis Soares and Stephen Stiegleder, and I call this foundational knowledge “technical literacy,” and we talk about how to get there in a new paper for the green economy symposium of the Duke Forum for Law & Social Change.  “Preparing America’s Workforce for Jobs in the Green Economy: A Case for Technical Literacy” argues that the clean energy revolution will be more capital and labor intensive than the high-tech or biotech revolutions. It will also require more workers, nearly half of whom will need technical skills in traditionally “middle-skill” jobs like construction, and manufacturing.

This vision of a more technically literate workforce requires that all students get an education that is both academic and practical.  If campuses are concerned about providing a “sustainable” education, their curriculum must reflect the economic changes forecasted to our jobs and necessary skill-set. Higher education has begun the transformation (and comingling) of campus and curriculum to create  “living laboratories” to address these needs, investing student time into campus energy projects such as designing solar arrays for residential buildings, and assessing the campus’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies.

But these programs take time to implement, and require a re-thinking of faculty time, classroom learning objectives, and campus planning.  Are campuses doing enough to prepare students with these opportunities?

Moreover, while individual campuses may be pursuing solutions, what about the big picture for American education?  Is the current system flexible enough to accommodate the needs of our students and workers? The two primary federal programs aimed at providing technical workforce training are underfunded and short-sighted; and public and private workforce training schemes are disjointed.

The key to creating a more coherent post-secondary education system that delivers technical literacy is for business and education leaders to leverage their knowledge of labor markets, skills and pedagogy to build new curriculum and instructional models.

Community colleges, situated as they are at the crossroads of higher education and workforce training, are an ideal starting point. The Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) and the Greenforce Initiative, as well as the Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center, provide excellent examples of their successful programs.  Other initiatives have been successful in creating partnerships which link community needs with educational output, including the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI), which links local colleges, school districts, and community partners together in join climate-action initiatives which provide ample opportunity for hands-on skill (and leadership) development for students.

Beyond them, my co-authors and I recommend two approaches to promote and expand innovative community-college–industry partnerships. The first is to use existing federal, state and local funds to promote innovation and use more research to identify best practices. The second is to use these partnerships for large-scale experiments, supported by a federal grant program, to demonstrate that they’re achievable.

Campuses with living laboratory and community or corporate partnerships are ahead of the curve.  Those already preparing students for a changing economy will remain competitive in the coming years, as the foundation of American education is changed by increasingly unsustainable financial obligations and demand for appropriate skills and education.   But for these efforts to translate into real jobs for America’s next generation, our national policymakers need to make a clear commitment to a more advanced and sustainable energy future and a skilled workforce to maintain it. Otherwise, we will risk putting training dollars into ossified programs that will prepare workers for jobs that simply do not exist.

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About The Center for the Next Generation: The Center for the Next Generation works to shape national dialogue around two major challenges that affect the prospects of America’s Next Generation – advancing a sustainable energy future and improving opportunities for children and families. As a nonpartisan organization, the Center generates original strategies that advance these goals through research, policy development and strategic communications. In our home state of California, the Center works to create ground-tested solutions that demonstrate success to the rest of the nation.

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By Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature
(This article appears in the October, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerThe celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Campus Sustainability Day (CSD) needed a topic appropriate to a moment in time when campuses have shown that the impossible is possible – changing the way they teach, operate, build, and plan in order to reduce emissions and prepare students to lead a just and sustainable future – while recognizing the challenges and opportunities still present in their journey to integrating deep sustainability education. This year, Second Nature and the CSD supporting organizations, including AASHE, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), The Society for College & University Planning (SCUP), USGBC, Focus the Nation, Tree Campus USA, the SEED Center, and IDEAS, are calling on campuses to participate in a national day of dialogue around a critical question which invites conversation on both success and continued roadblocks: How is higher education preparing students for a changing climate?

Campuses across the country are organizing discussions to gather input from students, faculty, and staff on the best practices and remaining challenges for providing students with the skills and experiences they need to prepare for a changing climate, society, and economy, using three guiding questions to form a common national dialogue.

Campus Sustainability Day 2012

Here’s how to participate:

#1: Screen the Keynote Broadcast on Your Campus
October 24th 2012, 2pm – 3:30pm EST
Join thought leaders in campus sustainability as they discuss best practices and challenges for preparing students for a changing climate, with an emphasis on curriculum, research, and experiential learning.

Featuring Geoffrey Chase, leader of the Ponderosa Project, Julie Elzanati, Director of the Illinois Green Economy Network, Julian Keniry, Senior Director of Campus and Community Leadership National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Program, Neil Weissman, Provost of Dickinson College, and Debera Johnson, founder of the Partnership for Leadership in Sustainability, this panel invites questions from the audience to discuss best practices for creating ecological curriculum, advancing experiential and living laboratory learning, and engaging faculty and the surrounding community in meaningful and critical education.

This is a live, interactive event!  Panelists will base their discussion on questions provided by you – the audience – during the panel, and will be screened using live video in Google+ Hangouts on Air.  The panel will be screened live to Youtube – no special login or software is necessary to watch, and you will be provided with the link after registration.  To ask questions, you will need a Google or YouTube login to leave comments on the video as a question for the panelists.  Institutions are encouraged to participate in the keynote broadcast as a way to jumpstart regional conversations.

#2: Host or Participate in a Regional Conversation 
October 22nd – October 26th 2012, Times and dates vary by region
Register or learn more here

How are you preparing students for a changing climate?  We want to hear from campuses across the country, and gather input from students, faculty, and staff on the best practices and remaining challenges for providing students with the skills and experiences they need.  Host a conversation on campus, gather for a virtual conversation with campuses in your region, or tune-in to one of the regional conversations organized in your area.  

Use these questions to guide the conversation:

  1. What is your college/region doing to prepare students for a changing climate?
  2. Where do challenges still exist for your campus/region in creating successful sustainability and climate programs, and what are the solutions to these challenges?
  3. How can your campus/region ensure that all students acquire the skills and education necessary to prepare for a changing climate, society, and economy, regardless of their course of study or career goals?

Be sure to appoint a student liaison to take notes – your conversations will be turned into a national guiding document on “Best Practices for Preparing Students for a Changing Climate.”

For questions about Campus Sustainability Day, please contact Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature at sbrylinsky@secondnature.org.

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By Todd Cohen, Director, SEED Initiative, American Association of Community Colleges
(This article appears in the October, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCEngaging with the community to build sustainable and thriving regional economies is an important pursuit for higher education. For community colleges, in particular, this quest is also a fundamental part of what they are and who they serve.

Community colleges were founded on the principle of service to the community. Most community college students are local residents who stay in the region. Sustainability practices learned at the college, therefore, are likely to be applied locally as those students become part of the fabric of that community. Colleges also serve thousands of local residents and businesses through continuing education, small business support services, and workforce programs. These are critical vehicles that colleges are using to inform the public (i.e. local consumers) about the importance of environmental stewardship and how to take advantage of green technologies like solar panels or sustainable building products. In addition, outside the campus, colleges are key stakeholders in a growing number of regional climate and energy partnership initiatives to reduce community energy consumption or advocate for revised local environmental policies.

All of these characteristics position community colleges to not only lead in creating  healthy communities, but to build the local green economy—a critical element of what is needed today.

“Knowing and being intimately connected to a particular region and community are hallmarks of the community college and are fundamental components of sustainability,” writes Mary Spilde, President of Lane Community College. “This connection to place makes community colleges particularly well suited to engage communities in living sustainably.”1

The Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) initiative of the American Association of Community Colleges and ecoAmerica aims to advance sustainability and green workforce development practices at community colleges by sharing innovative models and resources and building the capacity of community college administrators, faculty, and staff to grow the green economy. The SEED Strategic Plan, developed by a task force of college presidents, identifies “community engagement” as one of three pillars representing the role two-year colleges can play in advancing sustainable development:2

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By Todd Cohen, Director of Sustainability Initiatives, American Association of Community Colleges

(This article appears in the November, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

To lead in the accelerating green economy, America needs millions of new skilled workers for jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency, green building and sustainability. To meet this demand, America’s community colleges are joining the first nationwide initiative to collaborate on and implement programs to train students with the education and skills needed to succeed.

The SEED Center (www.theSEEDcenter.org) is a leadership initiative, free resource center, and online sharing environment for community colleges to dramatically scale up programs to educate America’s 21st century workforce to compete in the green economy. Designed to support various AASHE and Second Nature tools, SEED – Sustainability Education and Economic Development – is a landmark effort by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and ecoAmerica to assist the nation’s 1,200 two-year colleges in the critical task of preparing the American workforce with the skills needed to succeed in sustainable, clean tech and other green economy jobs.

(more…)

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