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Students learn unique skills and insights when working with hands-on, real world challenges. This is true in developing solutions to address energy, environment, and sustainability challenges. MIT should create a Campus Sustainability Learning Laboratory to partner faculty and students with our own departments to jointly study ways to enhance MIT's sustainable practices in our campus operations. A structured collaboration could bring sustainability education and student leadership development to new levels at MIT, while simultaneously advancing key objectives of our campus sustainability programs. This could be an innovative, student-centered program that could transform the MIT campus into a real-world laboratory for discovery, testing, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of leading-edge social and technical energy solutions. The program could provide the laboratory for development of world-class sustainability technologies, approaches, education and leaders, and ultimately serve as a model for other large institutions to fundamentally shift to more sustainable modes of operation.
The Campus Lab could integrate and coordinate operations, research and education to discover and develop the institutional changes and programs needed to build a model, highly sustainable campus. The Campus Lab could serve to organize and sustain students’ key role in transforming the MIT campus sustainability landscape by solidifying and formalizing an innovative and rigorous project-based and service learning program focused on training future leaders with experience in generating tangible improvements in institutional energy management.