University of Maryland


University of Maryland
Partnership in Action Learning in Sustainability
Case Type
University Program
School Size
20,000 - 40,000
Focus Areas
Democratic Governance, Economic and Social Inclusion, Environment Sustainability
Architecture, Art, GIS, Public Administration

Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability

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The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) is administered by the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). It is a campus-wide initiative that harnesses the expertise of UMD faculty and the energy and ingenuity of UMD students to help Maryland communities become more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. PALS is designed to provide innovative, low-cost assistance to local governments while creating real-world problem-solving experiences for University of Maryland graduate and undergraduate students.

The wide range of disciplines collaborating through PALS allows the partnering jurisdiction to address many real-world challenges. Faculty, who volunteer for the PALS program because of their interest and commitment to action learning, incorporate the jurisdiction’s specific issues as part of their course’s applied exercise. Students then get to put classroom concepts and inventive thinking to work to complete these sustainability-focused projects while working with a real client and producing a useful product for the partner city or county.

The PALS program has worked with 14 Schools and Colleges on the UMD systems, engaged 2,000 students, 17 partner jurisdictions, and over 140 projects.

Year Program Established | 2013
Country | US
Federal Region of Program | 3

Public or Private Institution | Public
Number of students at institution | 40,000

Highlight Articles/Videos

A Countywide Classroom by Natalie Koltun
UMD “PALS” Program to Partner with Anne Arundel County, City of Annapolis by Maggie Haslam

Past City Partners

2013 | Salisbury MD • Population: 33,000
2014 | Frederick City • Population: 66,000
2015 | College Park MD • Population: 30,000
2015 | Howard County (approx 300,000 population) and Columbia Association (represents Columbia’s 10 villages with a budget of $60,000,000)
2016 | Anne Arundel County (564,000) and Annapolis City • 39,000
2017 | Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission Montgomery County Parks Department, Montgomery County (1.4 million) , Prince George’s County (910,000)

2018 – Harford County(250,000) and with the support of Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) Maryland Department of Housing (MDHCP) the towns of New Windsor (1,400) and New Market (700) and Community of Essex Maryland (39,000)

2019 – Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (Prince George’s County Planning Department) and additional small Maryland towns and communities with the support of MDP and MDHCD.

Contact Info

Kim Fisher
Program Manager
(301) 405-4481