Penn State Online Program Features Hands-on Learning Component

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This Penn State World Campus program is unique among online energy and sustainability policy programs nationwide because of its requirement that students participate in an internship close to home or an international study experience.

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The most rewarding aspect of my trip was involvement in a community-service project installing a rainwater capture system on a house in an impoverished village [in Costa Rica].

Worldwide environmental concerns, regional economics and national security issues are driving increased interest in energy and sustainability policy. Complexity and opportunity abound as policymakers seek creative, effective legislative solutions while organizations of all types work to influence and comply. Penn State’s B.A. in energy and sustainability policy (ESP) aims to prepare professionals for roles in this evolving economy. Delivered online, the program features a unique component where students participate in an internship close to home or an international study experience.

The program integrates five overarching learning objectives across the ESP curriculum—energy industry knowledge, sustainability ethic, analytical skills, communication skills and global perspective—with the special addition of hands-on learning that builds on the knowledge students gain from course work.

ESP student Justin Polosky learned about solar renewable energy during a summer internship with The Penn State Center: Engaging Pittsburgh, which is close to his home in Canonsburg, Pa. “Pittsburgh is becoming one of the most ‘green’ cities in the country because of the many environmentally related organizations in the region,” said Polosky, 23, who compiled a database of these organizations. He also worked on renewable and alternative energy projects and met with renewable energy officials. He previously earned a Penn State meteorology degree and ultimately would like to work on sustainability projects that combine weather, energy and sustainability.

Todd Venetz of Loudonville, N.Y., opted for international study, participating in a Global Renewable Energy Education Network program in Costa Rica this summer. “The most rewarding aspect of my trip was involvement in a community-service project installing a rainwater capture system on a house in an impoverished village,” said Venetz, 35, a decorated Marine and married father of three. Venetz, who enlisted in the Marine Corps after Sept. 11 and served in Iraq, is a senior computer operator with the New York State Office of Information Technology Services. Venetz graduated earlier this month and plans to begin a master’s degree at Rochester Institute of Technology this fall.

The ESP degree, offered by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Dutton e-Education Institute and Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, is delivered online by the World Campus.

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 80 of Penn State’s most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. World Campus is part of Penn State Outreach, which serves more than 5 million people each year, in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide.

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