President's Sustainability Research Fellowship
The President’s Office, the Office of Sustainability, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility jointly host the high-impact learning program, The President’s Sustainability Research Fellowship (PSRF).
How do students learn to lead?
In the President’s Sustainability Research Fellowship (PSRF) at Swarthmore College, students learn by leading: by taking stewardship over vital sustainability challenges. The program matches motivated students with small teams of staff and faculty mentors to research, develop, and implement projects in a year-long course and associated internship. With faculty guidance, students conduct wide-ranging research and write reports, proposals, and/or white papers relevant to their sustainability project. Students will hone their skills in collaboration, gain valuable leadership and project management experience, and make meaningful contributions to advancing campus sustainability at Swarthmore. No previous environmental study or sustainability experience is required to apply, as the PSRF program seeks to encourage students to bring their unique background and develop multifaceted, creative approaches to making change.
Since the program’s founding in 2016, our Fellows are doing all we could have asked: redesigning our waste management system, developing a 3-year vision for campus woods stewardship, implementing Swarthmore's internal carbon price, launching behavioral change strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and creating a system to track sustainability progress across campus. They’re also doing more than we could have imagined. In tackling waste reduction, for instance, Fellows are uniting custodial staff and students by redefining waste as an environmental justice issue. In championing the campus woods, Fellows are connecting faculty and students with grounds and arboretum staff to engage not only the College provost and vice-presidents but also neighboring communities.
The pioneering PSRF program, a collaboration between the President’s Office, the Office of Sustainability, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, fosters interdisciplinary collaboration throughout the institution. As students learn, lead, and innovate, they apply their knowledge to pressing needs and produce replicable solutions for our campus and beyond.
Benefits to Students
- Contribute to improving sustainability on campus through a specific, high impact project
- Learn to be an agent for change in a large organization
- Gain valuable project management, communication, and advocacy skills
- Receive ongoing mentorship from faculty, staff, and other advisors
- Earn two credits (1 credit per semester) for project-based learning. Credits will be awarded through ENVS 050, taught by Environmental Studies faculty, with support from the Director of Sustainability. In some cases, one of the two credits may be awarded in a major department as a directed reading.
- Earn top Swarthmore student wages for 6-8 hours weekly throughout the academic year
- Participate in a cohort of motivated students, supporting one another and solving real-world problems using interdisciplinary approaches
- Present your final projects to the President, senior staff, and the community
- Enroll in 1-credit course each semester (either ENVS 050 or a directed reading in the faculty mentor’s department) and complete all course requirements. As part of the credit received:
- Participate in weekly seminar (schedule TBD with written assignments including a case study, a benchmarking study, a mid-project report, and a final report)
- Meet every two weeks throughout the year with a faculty mentor in a specific discipline; produce a literature survey relevant to your project and conduct research and/or analysis as appropriate to the subject
- Work on your project for 6-8 hours per week through the academic year, including weekly meetings with a staff mentor, plus additional meetings as required by the project
- Attend a launch meeting in the fall semester; present initial work mid-year to the extended Fellowship community; present final projects at the end of the year at a public meeting