This summer, student members of Montclair State University’s PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies Green Teams will again help leading regional and global businesses and organizations develop sustainable solutions to challenges ranging from achieving zero waste to improving energy efficiency.
The interdisciplinary paid internship program is building on the success of last year’s inaugural Green Team initiative. “This summer, through a new partnership with New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS), we’ve hired 45 students, coming from 10 universities” says PSEG Institute Director Amy Tuininga. “Any NJHEPS member can now affiliate with the Institute so their students can participate in the Green Team program and/or mentor a team at their university.”
Montclair State’s 26 student interns will be joined by cohorts from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Kean University, Princeton University, Ramapo College, Rider University, Rutgers University Newark, Rutgers University New Brunswick and The College of New Jersey. Two interns are from Austria’s Graz University, reflecting Montclair State’s growing partnership with Graz.
The Green Team program continues to welcome students majoring in any discipline ranging from Business and Biology to Earth and Environmental Studies to Political Science. “New this year, are students majoring in Engineering, Music and Film,” notes Tuininga.
Eight 2016 Green Team members will return as peer teaching assistants. Their guidance and mentorship will help the students achieve high-quality deliverables. Two graduate student assistants will help keep everyone logistically and conceptually on track.
Last summer, as a member of the NJM Insurance Green Team, Sustainability Science major Alexander Tselepis ’17 worked on optimization solutions for the company’s building infrastructure. This summer, he will share his enthusiasm for the program as an internal company representative for Humanscale, one of this summer’s nine Green Teams host organizations.
“The Green Team program bridges the gap between students and the corporate world, which makes us better prepared to enter the corporate world as employees,” he says. Tselepis has, in fact, also landed a newly created job as a “handprint engineer” for Humanscale. In this role, he will design and implement strategies to reduce – and improve – the company’s ecological footprint.
This summer, nine teams of five students each will pair with host corporations ADP, Earth Friendly Products, Hackensack Meridian Health Systems, Honeywell and Humanscale, as well as returning hosts Prudential Global Investment Management and PSEG.
And for the first time, interns will gain hands-on experience with municipal sustainability initiatives. One Green Team will offer support to the City of Newark’s Office of Sustainability and Chief Sustainability Officer Nathaly Agosto Filion. A second team will work with Princeton University and Sustainable Princeton – under the leadership of a peer teaching assistant from Princeton’s Office of Sustainability. According to Tuininga, the Green Teams will give strong support to these new program hosts.
“The best parts about this year’s expanded program are that we are beginning to include some community groups, like Newark and Sustainable Princeton, while growing partnerships with more corporations and other academic institutions,” says Tuininga. “I believe we each have something different to offer and that we can really make greater collective impact through these partnerships.”
Funded by the PSEG Foundation, with contributions from Fairleigh Dickinson, Princeton, Ramapo and Rutgers New Brunswick, the 11-week program also offers professional development, leadership and team-building training, field trips and a basic grounding in sustainability science. When the program ends in August, the interns will present their final projects to all participating institutions, staff and the general public.
Tuininga is convinced that the groundbreaking internship program serves a critical need. "Green Team students get a real idea of how they can apply what they are learning in the classroom by working together in teams to produce real-world solutions to real-world problems," she says.