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A group of women standing around a table with a wooden rack, color swatches, rose clippings, and other organic garden material.


The College of Arts and Architecture seeks to strategically advance the University’s sustainability goals, fostering sustainability in teaching and learning, research, community engagement, student engagement, and operations in the college. Penn State’s Sustainability Institute embraces sustainability broadly, defining sustainability as “the simultaneous pursuit of human health and happiness, environmental quality, and economic well-being for current and future generations.” Penn State strives to implement the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Sustainability Institute supports sustainability champions throughout the University’s 24 campuses and 13 colleges. Here in the College of Arts and Architecture, Mihyun Kang, director for sustainability, contributed to the establishment of the Sustainability Council comprising College of Arts and Architecture faculty, staff, and students.

Sustainability Council

The College of Arts and Architecture Sustainability Council advocates forming a sustainability vision for the college to connect it to other strategic initiatives while creating efficiencies and enhancing impact. The council approaches sustainability as a transformational concept that leads to innovation. The Sustainability Council has developed action steps that advance the college’s priorities and the University’s sustainability vision and mission. The college’s Sustainability Council has working groups focusing on teaching and learning, research, community engagement, and operations.

Collage of A&A Sustainability Council members' headshots

Council Faculty, Staff, + Students

The Sustainability Council includes representatives from each of the college’s academic, outreach, and support areas, and other members from the faculty, staff, and student community. Council members include:


Chair Mihyun Kang (Director for Sustainability)
Teaching + Learning Heather McCune Bruhn (working group leader, Art History faculty)

Charlene Gross (School of Theatre faculty)

Eric McKee (School of Music faculty)

Research Rahman Azari (working group co-leader, Architecture faculty)

Hong Wu (working group co-leader, Landscape Architecture faculty)

Bonnie Collura (School of Visual Arts faculty)

Negar Dehghan (Graphic Design Graduate Student)

Community Engagement Huiwon Lim (working group leader, Graphic Design faculty)

Joyce Robinson (Palmer Museum of Arts)

Linda Struble (Center for the Performing Arts)

Tegan Lochner (Landscape Architecture, Undergraduate Student)

Operations Deborah Gulick (working group leader, Office of Digital Learning)

Kate Domico (Office of the Assistant Dean Administration and Information Technology)

Lauren Sosa (Faculty Council)

Barbara Cutler (Staff Advisory Council) 

Sustainability Council Charter

Teaching + Learning

Goals in this area include ensuring that every student at Penn State will have the opportunity to take one or more sustainability-focused or sustainability-related courses prior to graduation and that graduating seniors will demonstrate acquisition of sustainability awareness, attitudes, and knowledge. Ongoing initiatives in this area include:

Graphic of a multicolor segmented

Sustainability Teaching Roundtable Series

The Roundtable Teaching Series will transform the culture of sustainability education and pedagogy, embedding it into the college’s teaching culture. A wide range of topics concerning sustainability, curricular planning, and engagement across the college’s academic units will be addressed through the series. The series convenes faculty, staff, and graduate students for focused presentations and discussions.

Upcoming Sessions

Session 19: Cultivating Land-based Justice and Sustainability Through Art Inquiry
October 25, 2023 | 12–1:30 p.m. | Borland Project Space and Zoom
Presenters: Michelle Bae-Dimitriadis and Art Education Graduate Student


Session 18: Deliberations and Insights with Sustainability Teaching Fellows
September 27, 2023 | 12–2 p.m. | Borland Project Space

Previous Sessions

Session 17: Materials Research in Art History at Penn State
February 9, 2023
Organizer: Heather McCune Bruhn and Sarah Townsend
Speakers: Sarah Rich, Amara Solari, Holli Turner, and Daniel Zolli


Session 16: Acquisition and Movement of Materials
November 15, 2022
Organizers: Heather McCune Bruhn and Sarah Jo Townsend
Presenters: David Meredith, George Pedlow, and Sarah Jo Townsend


Session 15 2022—A&A Sustainability Teaching Fellows Presentations
November 1, 2022
Presenters: Ali Ghazvinian, Eric Mckee, Tim Farrand, Huiwon Lim, and Kimberly Flick


Session 14 2022—A&A Sustainability Teaching Fellows Presentations
October 4, 2022
Presenters: Deborah Gulick, Heather McCune Bruhn, Julio Diarte, Kate Cholakis, and Stephanie Swindle Thomas


Session 13: Small Island, Big Song and Sustainability
April 5, 2022
Small Island, Big Song
Presenters: BaoBao Chen and Tim Cole, Producers


Session 12: Ecology Plus Design—Teaching, research, and outreach for ecologically appropriate design
March 1, 2022
Ecology + Design
Presenter: Charles Andrew Cole, Ph.D., Professor of Landscape, Director of Ecology Plus Design


Session 11: Design, technology, law, and sustainability: Transforming access to civil justice through strategic partnerships
February 1, 2022
Presenter: Sandra J. Allain, LLB, M.Ed., Professor of Practice SEDTAPP, College of Engineering and International Affairs, Lecturer in Law, Penn State Law, Director Law, Policy and Engineering – LPE, Director, Justice, & Sustainable Development Lab – DJSD


Session 10: Sustainability Teaching Panel Discussion
November 9, 2021
Presenters: 2021 A&A Sustainability Faculty Teaching Fellows


Session 9: Sustainability Teaching Panel Discussion
October 5, 2021
Presenters: 2021 A&A Sustainability Faculty Teaching Fellows


Session 8: Paper from Invasives and Yard Waste
April 5, 2021, and April 12, 2021
Facilitator: Heather McCune Bruhn, Ph.D., Assistant Teaching Professor of Art History


Session 7: Sustainability behind A Marvelous Order
March 29, 2021
Facilitator: Eric McKee, Ph.D., Professor of Music Theory
Presenters: Judd Greenstein, Composer, and Joshua Frankel, Director/Animator


Session 6: SoVA Studio for Sustainability and Social Action
March 1, 2021
Facilitator: Angela Rothrock, Ph.D., Associate Teaching Professor of Visual Arts


Session 5: Sustainability and Environmental Justice: Integrating Environmental Justice into Teaching
February 1, 2021
Presenter: Heather Plumridge Bedi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Dickinson College


Session 4: Sustainability Teaching Panel Discussion
October 6, 2020
Presenters: 2019-2020 A&A Sustainability Faculty Teaching Fellows


Session 3: Sustainability Teaching Panel Discussion
February 10, 2020
Presenters: 2019-2020 A&A Sustainability Faculty Teaching Fellows


Session 2: Sustainability Teaching and Community Engagement
November 11, 2019
Facilitators: Ilona Ballreich, Sustainable Communities Collaborative Manager, Sustainability Institute & Peter Boger, Ph.D., Asst. Director for Community Outreach and Engagement, Sustainability Institute


Session 1: Teaching the Arts and Architecture in the Anthropocene
October 14, 2019
Facilitator: Peter Buckland, Ph.D., Academic Programs Manager, Sustainability Institute

Sustainability Teaching Fellows Program

This program annually recruits faculty, staff, and graduate students to serve as College of Arts and Architecture Sustainability Teaching Fellows. Ten faculty members and three graduate students, including at least one from each academic unit, were selected in September 2019. The first cohort participated in the Sustainability Teaching Roundtable Series, integrating sustainability competencies into their courses and curriculum. The second cohort, including nine faculty and two graduate students, was announced in February 2021. The third cohort, including five faculty, one staff, and three graduate students, was announced in January 2022.

Visit the Third Cohort Presentations


Visit the Second Cohort Presentations


Visit the First Cohort Presentations


Visit the First Cohort Sizzle Reel
Man giving a lecture in front of a classroom of people; one of the female attendees has her hand raised.
An instructor holding up a book in front of a table with an assortment of dried flowers in crates.

Sustainability Courses

The College of Arts and Architecture offers many courses integrating sustainability. The table below shares courses typically offered within each academic unit that are sustainability-focused or sustainability-related. To count as a Sustainability-Focused course, the focus of the course should be on the interdependence of ecological and social/economic systems or a major sustainability challenge. Sustainability-Related courses are not explicitly focused on sustainability, but sustainability has clearly been incorporated into course content. The course should incorporate a unit or module on sustainability or a sustainability challenge, include one or more sustainability-focused activities, or integrate sustainability challenges, issues, and concepts throughout the course. Students can search for these course numbers in LionPath and contact instructors to learn more. In accordance with the Association of Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), sustainability encompasses human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations in an inclusive way.


Course Name + Number Course Title
ARCH 132 Basic Design Studio II (Sustainability-Related)
ARCH 170N Introduction to Sustainable Architecture (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 203 Materials and Construction I (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 204 Materials and Construction II (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 332 Architectural Design IV (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 380 Building Environmental Systems I (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 381 Building Environmental Systems II (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 412 Integrative Energy and Environmental Design (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 480 Technical Systems Integration (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 491 Architectural Design Studio (Sustainability-Related)
ARCH 497 Special Topics

  • Introduction to Shape Grammars (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 534 Architectural Design IV (Sustainability-Focused)
ARCH 536 Design-Inquiry

  • High-Performance Building Design Studio (Sustainability-Focused)

Art History

Course Name + Number Course Title
ARTH/GEOSC 107N Rocks, Minerals, and the History of Art (Sustainability-Focused)
ARTH 130 African, Oceanic, and Native American Art (Sustainability-related)
ENGL 225N / ARTH 225N / WMNST 225N Sexuality and Modern Visual Culture (Sustainability-Related)
ARTH 280 The Secret Life of Things: Design and Decorative Arts Since the 18th Century (Sustainability-Related)
ARTH 306 Color Across Cultures: A Global History of Pigments, Dyes, Metals and Other Colorants in Art (Sustainability-Focused)
ARTH 460 Art and Empire: Aztec, Inca, and Spanish (Sustainability-Related)
ARTH 447 Topics in the Arts of the African Diaspora (Sustainability-Related)


Graphic Design

GD 304Practical Communications (Sustainability-Related)

Course Name + Number Course Title
GD 115N Visualizing Information (Sustainability-Related)
GD 200 Graphic Design Studio I (Sustainability-Related)
GD 201 Typography I (Sustainability-Related)
GD 203 Advanced Typography (Sustainability-Related)
GD 301 Experience Design Process + Methods (Sustainability-Related)
GD 304 Practical Communications (Sustainability-Related)
GD 402 Senior Problems (Sustainability-Related)
ART 571 Graphic Design II (Sustainability-Related)


Landscape Architecture

Course Name + Number Course Title
LARCH 116 Landscape Architecture Studio 2 (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 125 Landscape Architecture Orientation Seminar (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 145 Ecology and Plants I (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 215 Landscape Architecture Studio 3 (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 216 Landscape Architecture Studio 4 (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 235 Design Implementation I – Grading (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 245 Ecology & Plants II (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 246 Ridge & Valley Field Study (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 276 Human Dimensions of Design: History & Theory (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 315 Landscape Architecture Design Studio V (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 335 Design Implementation III: Planting Methods (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 336 Design Implementation IV: Stormwater (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 375 Human Dimensions of Design—Applied (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 414 Design and Theory V: Advanced Landscape Architectural Design (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 424 Design Theory Seminar (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 502 Intellectual History and Theory of Landscape Architecture (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 510 Graduate Seminar in Landscape Architecture (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 515 Design and Theory I: Introduction (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 551 Final Culminating Experience Proposal (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 552 Final Culminating Experience Production (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 553 Final Culminating Experience Documentation & Presentation (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 815 Grad Studio I (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 816 Systems Design Studio (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 817 Grad Studio III (Sustainability-Related)
LARCH 837 Grad Implementation III: Plants (Sustainability-Focused)
LARCH 838 Grad Implementation IV: Stormwater (Sustainability-Focused)


Course Name + Number Course Title
MUSIC 312 Performance of Diverse Music Style

  • Music for Social Justice: An Ensemble Experience (Sustainability-Focused)
MUSIC 464W Studies in Music History: 1850–Present

  • The Sound of the Anthropocene: Music, Humans, and Nature on a Changing Planet (Sustainability-Focused)


Course Name + Number Course Title
THEA 404 21st Century Performance History (Sustainability-Focused)

Visual Arts

Course Name + Number Course Title
ART 299 Foreign Study—Art

  • Social and Cultural Explorations in the Visual Arts: Sydney, Australia (Sustainability-Focused)
  • Social Responsibility in the Visual Arts: Sydney, Brisbane, and Lady Elliot Island, Australia (Sustainability-Focused)
  • Indigenous Culture and the Visual Arts in Australia and New Zealand (Sustainability-Focused)
  • Dublin, Ireland: Representing the Irish Landscape, Literature and Visual Arts (Sustainability-Focused)
PHOTO 402 Photographic Narratives (Sustainability-Related)
ART 433 Sustainable Studio (Sustainability-Focused)
ART 497 Special Topics

  • Climate Art and Action (Sustainability-Focused)

Online GenEd Courses

Course Name + Number Course Title
AA 103 Introduction to Interior Design (Sustainability-Related)
ARCH 170N Introduction to Sustainable Architecture (Sustainability-Focused)
ARTH/GEOSC 107N Rocks, Minerals, and the History of Art (Sustainability-Focused)
GD 115N Visualizing Information (Sustainability-Related)


Goals in this area include building capacity for solutions-oriented transdisciplinary sustainability research, supporting translation and implementation of research-based solutions, and creating opportunities for sustainability research experiences for students and for engaged scholarship. Ongoing initiatives in this area include:

Group of four research students gathered around a storm drain.

Sustainability Research Team Grant

Penn State College of Arts and Architecture’s Sustainability Research Team seeks to recognize and vitalize teams of faculty and staff for interdisciplinary research/creative scholarship around sustainability. It intends to stimulate the development of sustainability research projects that are likely to be supported by future external funding.

The Sustainability Research Team, identified through a selection process, will receive up to $5,000 and must develop and submit its sustainability research proposals for external federal, state and/or private funding within one year of receiving this sustainability research team grant. The Team members must also provide quarterly reports on the team’s activities in developing sustainability research proposals for external funding. The final report, which includes the submitted proposals to external funding agencies, must be submitted upon project completion. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Apply online for the Sustainability Research Team only after discussing your proposal with Mihyun Kang, the A&A Director For sustainability at

The application consists of the following sections:

  • Project Description (250 word limit): Describe the purpose, approach and expected outcomes of your team’s sustainability research project that you plan to submit for the external grant proposal.
  • Statement of Novelty (250 word limit): Address how your project that you plan to submit for the external grant proposal would be innovative and how this sustainability research team grant will enhance excellence.
  • Statement of Significance and Broader Impacts (250 word limit): Address how your project, that you plan to submit for an external grant, would advance sustainability research/creative scholarship in the arts/design.
  • Interdisciplinary Approach (250 word limit): Address your project’s interdisciplinary orientation and how each team member’s expertise contributes to the external grant proposal development.
  • Team Building Strategies (250 word limit): Indicate how your team will work together to create a collaborative environment that takes advantage of each team member’s role for the external grant proposal development.
  • External Grant Application (250 word limit): Explain your team’s plan for external grant applications and provide potential funding agencies unaffiliated with Penn State University (federal, state agencies and/or private foundations). Please specify the grant programs of the funding agencies and the application deadlines, and include the URL.
  • Budget: An itemized budget for external grant proposal development that can include summer salaries and associated fringes, materials and supplies, and proposal development-related travel must be created with the assistance of Barbara Cutler, A&A Research and Grants Coordinator. Please contact Barbara at to set up an appointment. Upload the budget that Barbara provided you as a pdf file.
  • A letter of recommendation sent directly to from the unit director/head in support of the project is also needed for the Principal Investigator.

If you have questions, please contact Mihyun Kang at

Sustainability Research Get-Together

A series of casual gatherings provide an opportunity for faculty and doctoral students to become acquainted with each other, learn more about sustainability research by peers, and explore potential collaboration. Sessions were held in November 2020, November 2021, and March 2023. Two upcoming sessions will be held during the fall of 2023.

Upcoming Sessions

Session 5: Student Research in Sustainability
November 8, 2023 | 12–2 p.m. | Borland Project Space


Session 4: Embracing New Minds for a Sustainable Future
September 13, 2023 | 12–2 p.m. | Borland Project Space

Previous Sessions

Session 3: Student Research in Sustainability: Experiences and Opportunities
March 29, 2023
Part One: Student Research Experiences: Ali Ghazvinian, Jie Li, and Negar Dehghan

Part Two: Student Research Opportunities: Rahman Azari, Bonnie Collura, and Hong Wu

Session 2: Grant Proposal Development
November 15, 2021
Panelists: Benay Gürsoy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Architecture, and Elizabeth Mansfield, PhD., Professor and Head of Art History


Session 1: Sustainability Research Interests and Collaboration
November 18, 2020
Presenters: Stephen Mainzer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, and Heather Ligler, Ph.D., Assistant Teaching Professor of Architecture
Far off shot of a wind turbine on a mountain tinted with a blue ombre overlay.

Convergence: Sustainability Symposium title slide with multi-color sustainability wheel and photo of wind turbine.

Sustainability Symposium

Held in Fall 2020, the Sustainability Symposium highlighted, connected, and amplified sustainability research within the College of Arts and Architecture to foster collaboration with the Penn State sustainability research community and beyond. The symposium featured presentations by keynote speaker Julian C. Chambliss from Michigan State University and by Penn State faculty within the College of Arts and Architecture, College of Engineering, and Smeal College of Business.

Visit the Symposium website


Visit the Symposium playlist


Visit the Symposium Sizzle Reel

Community Engagement

Goals in this area include expanding student access and community access to engaged scholarship focused on sustainability challenges, increasing sustainability literacy in public and private sectors, expanding commitment to sustainable practices and policies at the local and state levels, and fostering strong, resilient, and sustainable communities through programs and engagement processes. Ongoing initiatives in this area include:

We are Sustainable Video Series

The “We Are Sustainable” video series interviews students, faculty, staff, and alumni to explore how their work engages with sustainability. The series demonstrates how sustainability can be integrated into a wide range of disciplines, providing inspiration to others and documenting the innovative work of the College of Arts and Architecture community.

Dark blue background with "We Are Sustainable with Alumni" white text

We Are Sustainable with Alumni

In these short video interviews, Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture alumni reflect on the role of sustainability in their work and how their Penn State experience led them to where they are today.

Visit the Alumni playlist

White background with navy blue We Are Sustainable with Faculty and Staff text

We Are Sustainable with Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff within Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture share insights on how sustainability enters their research, teaching, and community engagement initiatives. They also share advice for students hoping to integrate sustainability into their learning.

Visit the Faculty and Staff playlist

Coral pink background with white We Are Sustainable with Students text

We Are Sustainable with Students

Students across Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture reflect on how they have engaged with the topic of sustainability in their studies and what they hope to do next.

Visit the Student playlist

Sustainability Showcase

Green, purple, and orange tiered circle infographic. The tiers are surrounded by sustainability icons and black text,

Sustainability Showcase 2020

Held in the spring of 2020, the Sustainability Showcase 2020 recognized the research taking place within the college and explored sustainability research collaboration across disciplines. The two-week-long showcase took an inclusive view of sustainability and included displays ranging from traditional research poster presentations and original artworks to a multimedia component.

Visit the 2020 Showcase playlist

Penn State College of Arts and Architecture 2023 Sustainability Showcase header,

Sustainability Showcase 2023

Held in the spring of 2023, The Sustainability Showcase 2023 recognized sustainability research and creative activities taking place within the college. During the two-week-long showcase, various forms and stages ranging from traditional research posters, exhibition and performance posters, and original artworks to multimedia components were exhibited.

Visit the 2023 Showcase playlist


Goals in this area include changing and enhancing college operations to not only adapt and combat the effects of human-induced climate change but to reverse the current direction of climate change. This involves examining opportunities for sustainability improvements; educating staff about sustainability concepts; and encouraging employees to identify actions and processes that need to change, get involved in the change process, and pioneer new solutions. Ongoing initiatives in this area include:

Conference room of meeting attendees having lunch,

Green Paws

Offices within the College of Arts and Architecture explore opportunities to improve sustainability efforts in the workplace.

Green Teams

The Center for Performing Arts revitalized the Green Team, which engages and educates its peers to help them operate in a more efficient, innovative, and healthy way. The Borland Building has additionally launched a Green Team.
green seedling sprouting from the soil.


Sustainability in Arts and Architecture

Mihyun Kang
Director for Sustainability

News from A&A

A&A Staff Highlight: Gulick leads way toward sustainable future

Deb Gulick received the College of Arts and Architecture’s inaugural Staff Sustainability Award in April 2023.

College of Arts and Architecture instructional designer and Sustainability Council member Deb Gulick has been a trailblazer for sustainability efforts in the college. Gulick received her master of education degree

Read More

Showcase highlights A&A sustainability research, creative projects

The College of Arts and Architecture will host a Sustainability Showcase, March 28-April 6 in the Borland Project Space.
Read More

Exhibit visualizing sustainability research and crises on display this week

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. —  A Penn State exhibit that highlights the collaboration between the Department of Graphic Design in the College of Arts and Architecture’s Stuckeman School and the Sustainability

Read More