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Living Lab

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

- Benjamin Franklin

It is human nature that we learn more by being an active participant in learning. The campus as a living laboratory model is exactly that; taking an active role or a hand’s on approach to learning. Here at CSUSM, we are actively engaged in creating opportunities for students to learn through the campus as a living laboratory model. 

We have received four (4) CSU Campus as a Living Laboratory Grants since 2015!

  • Bringing the Stormwater Management Program to Live in a Classroom Environment (2018) 
    • Working within the Chemistry Department, Dr. Karno Ng will be engaging her students on the importance of the campus stormwater management plan. 
  • Data Visualization: Connecting Students to the Campus and Their Environment With Art and Technology (2016)
    • Within the School of Arts, professor Lucy Solomon works with her students to tell the story of sustainability on campus by using arts and visualization techniques to communicate our sustainability efforts. 
  • Raising a Mixed-Use Greenhouse: Connecting Students, Facilities, Courses and Research (2015)
    • Working with the Biology department, Dr. Tracey Brown will be working to re-design Biology 338, Human Impact on the Environment, to include a more holistic theme of sustainability and to showcase and connect students to our campus operations, buildings and grounds. In addition, the grant will fund the partial construction of a campus greenhouse, which will be used for hand’s on learning.
  • Developing and Reporting Sustainable University Business Practices Course Redesign (2015)
    • The College of Business Administration (COBA) faculty member, Dr. Catalin Ratiu will be re-designing his Management 474 course to focus on internal business practices within CSUSM.

Student Projects Using the Campus as a Living Lab Model


Current courses that use this model include:

Community Ethnobotany Course (Anthropology 470)

Professor Dr. Bonnie Bade teaches this unique, hand’s on course. If you haven’t checked out the Ethnobotany Garden please do so! It’s located between Kellogg Library and the University Student Union.

Food Systems and Emerging Markets (Geography 460)

Professor Dr. Greig Guthey teaches this course which uses the Sustainable Food Project Garden, located by the Center for Children and Families. The garden allows students to understand food justice, organic practices and growing practices along with the classroom work.  

Students working in drought tollerant garden
Living Lab group