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 the Franco Harris Pittsburgh Center at Penn State, 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 and assets
  • advance transformative engagements for impactful benefit for local communities
  • increase collaboration across multiple community sectors and Penn State academic units

Our Approach to Engaged Scholarship: How We Can Work Together

Studios: We collaborate with the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture for several Pittsburgh-based architecture and landscape architecture studios, vetting potential projects, securing community stakeholders, coordinating community engagement processes, and sharing information with the student teams, local participants, and broader audiences.

Capstone Projects and Course Assistance: We connect local community stakeholder needs with Penn State faculty-lead teams of students for collaborative opportunities to address specific needs in the Pittsburgh region. This can be initiated by the Franco Harris Pittsburgh Center receiving requests from faculty or a local community partner seeking assistance on a specific issue or challenge.

Community-Based Research Support: We encourage research that involves local stakeholders, demonstrating respect for the contribution of community partners and a relationship that achieves research objectives while providing meaningful benefits to the local community.  We help to match the resources of Penn State with the assets and needs of local collaborators.

Engaged Scholarship in Action

Penn State professor Ken Tamminga leads teams of fourth-year landscape architecture students in the Pittsburgh Studio (LARCH 414). Students in the course, with support of Franco Harris Pittsburgh Center staff, work with community stakeholders in local neighborhoods to address their place-based issues.

Learn more about Pittsburgh Studio projects

The City Semester Pittsburgh program gives students the opportunity to spend a semester studying urban sustainability in Pittsburgh, with a community partner, making valuable connections to local leaders, colleagues, and potential future employers. The program is offered in the spring, summer, and fall semesters.

Learn more about City Semester Pittsburgh

At the Center, students get to tap into community energy. They already possess professional expertise, precedent, and theory but what they soon realize is they don’t understand the place where they’re working. They don’t know the neighborhood’s backstory or its nuances, so when they get together with local folks, there’s an interesting process of reciprocal learning.

Ken Tamminga, Distinguished Professor, Penn State Landscape Architecture