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Engaged Scholarship

Engaged Scholarship is out-of-classroom, real-world learning, projects, and research that students undertake, often in service of their local community. Through our engaged scholarship work at Penn State Center Pittsburgh, we cultivate vibrant, mutually beneficial relationships between faculty, staff, students, and the Pittsburgh region. We work to:

  • connect the interests and specialties of Penn State faculty and students with community challenges
  • advance transformative engagements for impactful benefit for local communities
  • increase collaboration across multiple community sectors and Penn State academic units

Engaged Scholarship in Action — Penn State Landscape Architecture: Pittsburgh Studio

Since 2008, distinguished professor Ken Tamminga has brought a team of fourth- and fifth-year landscape architecture students to engage in the PGH Studio. This partnership between Penn State Center Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Studio is a great example of how our local connections and Penn State’s skills can combine to engage communities and how faculty can work together with the Center.

Tamminga’s studio, in partnership with Penn State Center Pittsburgh, works with community partners from Pittsburgh neighborhoods to address place-based issues. Under the leadership of Tamminga and Sustainable Communities Manager Lisa Vavro, students create designs that aim to meet the vision of community leaders and residents to improve the community’s natural environment.

Each year, the Center solicits potential community projects. In the spring, Center staff work with the Pittsburgh Studio to assess options and select projects, then meet with community leaders to identify the fall’s scope of work. In the fall, students engage the community in a kick-off session, then in the middle of the semester, conduct a half-day community review session to share concepts and obtain feedback. Students then present their work at the end of the semester to the community working group, government, and business leaders. In some cases, students’ projects are incorporated into official neighborhood plans or activities. In all cases, the students provide the community with an elevated level of discussion around important issues that provide a framework for moving forward with next steps.

During the spring of 2020, Penn State Center Pittsburgh helped to connect students with the neighborhood of Hazelwood to discuss the future of three sites in the community — Hazelwood Green, Southwest Hazelwood, and Gladstone to Greenway. Students collaborated on design ideas for these spaces that would promote Hazelwood’s collective goals of inclusivity, restorative health, sustainability, and conviviality. Learn more on the Hazelwood 2020 website.