University sets aside $35,000 for student sustainability projects

Have a cool idea for a new sustainability related project? There’s a chance that your idea could become reality.

Have a cool idea for a new sustainability related project?

There’s a chance that your idea could become reality, thanks to $35,000 set aside from the recently acquired $25 million James Miller grant to fund student-created sustainability projects, said Sion Zivetz, a graduate research assistant in the Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices.

“One of the main focuses for the Miller Grant is enhancing the student experience,” Zivetz said.

According to the website, “Project ideas should be aligned with Portland State’s longer term vision and aspirations of becoming a nationally and internationally renowned university for excellence in innovative sustainability research.”

The Web site also states that the selection process will take place in three phases: preparation, the Idea-Generator event, and the follow-up and final decision.

The preparation phase specifically refers to a workshop and information session that will be held on Jan. 23. All interested team members are asked to attend with preliminary information about their project.

According to the site, the Idea-Generator event will be held in early February, and teams will be asked to present their finalized project proposals for PSU administrators, faculty and staff, as well as community partners. All those who attend this event will have a chance to give feedback.

This event will also be an important opportunity for teams and their members to compare project ideas, and eliminate the possibility of two teams working on a similar idea. Teams will have a chance to revise their projects after the Idea-Generator event. According to the site, final project proposals will have a Feb. 11 deadline.

“This ‘idea generation’ opportunity is a way for PSU students to share their ideas about activities that would contribute to student learning in this area,” said Jennifer Allen, interim director for the Center of Sustainability Processes and Practices. “Our research into other universities’ sustainability programs clearly shows that providing such opportunities for students can significantly enhance the overall sustainability experience on campus.”

A yet-to-be-named panel of students, faculty and administration will make the final decision on what projects are green-lighted by the university.

According to the site, the panel hopes to announce the chosen projects by Feb. 23.

“As far as I know, this is the first time PSU has been able to offer money to students for sustainability-related projects,” Zivetz said.

Zivetz also had some advice for students interested in submitting sustainability proposals.

“We want to focus on sustainability as an educational tool,” he said.

In short, instead of allocating money for a specific physical item, students need to focus on researching the effects of such an item, said Zivetz.

Ideas that have been tossed around already have to do with food system sustainability, composting and assessments or research based on what the university has already accomplished.