About Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum (ISAC)

Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum (ISAC) Program was established to help Penn faculty introduce environmental sustainability into existing and new courses. The Penn Sustainability Office provides full funding support for graduate or undergraduate summer research assistants, who work directly with faculty to update or create new syllabi, lectures, assignments, texts, and/or tests that incorporate environmental themes.  Each student works 20 hours a week with two different professors, starting in June, to allow the student to benefit from exposure to two different faculty members working on two different courses.

Information for Faculty

The selected faculty participants explore sustainability concepts at a one-day workshop led by Dr. Jane Dmochowski, of Penn’s Earth and Environmental Science Department, in the late spring, supervise the student research over the summer, and attend the wrap-up lunch at in the early fall, where the students present their completed research.

Over the past eight summers, the ISAC program has supported 60 courses in a diverse array of disciplines, including architecture, law, biology, engineering, urban planning, and Germanic languages.  Faculty participants have reported an extremely high quality work and have been delighted by their students’ productivity and enthusiasm for the work. 

Join the Program for Faculty

What’s Involved?

To participate in this transformational academic experience, please review the Call for Faculty Proposals. Natalie Walker in Penn’s Sustainability Office (walkerna@upenn.edu) can answer questions about ISAC or connect you with a faculty member who has participated in the past.

How to Apply

The the period for faculty to submit proposals for ISAC is now closed. If you decide to apply in future years, you will submit a one page proposal that

  • Describes the existing or proposed course;
  • Indicates the reason for integrating or enhancing sustainability in the course; and
  • Includes a brief work plan for a student research assistant.

Program Requirements

If accepted into ISAC 2020, requirements for participation include:

  • Participation in a one-day workshop for faculty in early May; and
  • Co-supervision of a student research assistant for eight weeks over the summer of 2020.

Information for Students

Students who are accepted into the ISAC Program will serve as Research Fellows for eight weeks over the summer. Each student will be teamed with two faculty members and will help to integrate sustainability into their courses. This work may involve researching material for the courses, developing new assignments, contributing to lectures, and compiling course reading lists. The selected students will participate in an initial meeting with the Sustainability Office to outline goals for the summer fellowship. Each student will also provide periodic progress updates to the Sustainability Office.  After working with faculty members for the course of the summer, students present their completed research at a wrap-up lunch in the early fall. 

Over the past eight summers, the ISAC program has brought in numerous students to work with 74 faculty in a diverse array of disciplines, including architecture, law, biology, engineering, urban planning, and Germanic languages. Faculty participants have reported an extremely high quality work and have been delighted by their students’ productivity and enthusiasm for the work. 

Joining the Program for Students

ISAC Fellows are Expected to:

  • Work closely with the faculty members to whom they are assigned on the development of their courses;
  • Attend two update meetings with Penn Sustainability Staff over the project duration;
  • Actively participate in four sustainability-themed field trips with other student research interns;
  • Present their course development in a poster session at the end of the summer.

The ISAC Fellowship is considered equivalent to a full-time job (35-40 hours a week).  The internship is eight weeks long beginning Monday, June 1st.

How to Apply

Student applications will open Monday, February 3rd and will be due on Friday, February 28th. A call for applications, with application requirements, will be posted on Monday, February 3rd. Please reach out to Natalie Walker (walkerna@upenn.edu) with any questions.

Previous Program

ISAC Program 2019

The following courses were developed during the 2019 summer's ISAC program:

  • Landscape Architecture Studio in Washington State
  • ENVS 629: Topics in a Changing Global Water Industry
  • ENVS 410: The Role of Water in Urban Sustainability and Resiliency
  • Introduction to Smart Cities
  • Design with Nature Symposium
  • EAS 301: Climate Policy and Technology
  • URBS 290: Metropolitan Nature
  • ENVS 494: Sustainable Initiatives in Higher Education 
  • HSOC 131: Sustainability and Public Health

Information and example posters from earlier ISAC programs are available on the ISAC Archive page.

green campus walkway

Course listings and posters from ISAC programs 2012-2019