The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program has assisted with several counties and municipalities to solve a variety of land use, transportation, environmental, and economic development challenges. Most recently, PALS concluded a successful partnership with Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis and for the 2017/2018 academic year will be partnering with Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and for Montgomery Parks within the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (MNCPPC).
PALS is a low-cost assistance program that leverages University of Maryland (UMD) graduate and undergraduate students to produce “real world” solutions for local governments. The program is administered by the National Center for Smart Growth at UMD, College Park. UMD faculty and students from across campus are tasked with assisting on issues identified by a partnering local government. The program is somewhat scalable, and is able to effectively respond to the needs of large and small local governments. PALS has previously worked with the City of Frederick, College Park, Howard County, and the Southwest Partnership in Baltimore City.
In tackling the challenges posed by Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis, PALS leverage the work of 430 students, faculty from 11 schools across UMD, and 30 dedicated courses. Projects ranged from very stirring video journalism projects covering the impacts of the heroin epidemic in the County to design solutions to help absorb coastal storm surges and address sea level rise in the Annapolis historic waterfront.
PALS is currently designing its 2017/2018 academic year syllabus to link faculty and classes to:
- 5 projects for the Prince George’s County Department of Environment
- 5 projects for departments within Montgomery County, and
- approximately 15 projects for the Montgomery Parks within the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.
The projects already matched with faculty and courses include: (1) how does the park of the future operate and what activities will be provided; revamping and streamlining the public procurement process; (2) standardizing specifications for the use of grey water in the parks; (3) improving recycling rates across all Prince George’s County neighborhoods; (4) an identification of potential sites for an animal shelter in the northern part of Prince George’s County; (5) a measurement of the economic impacts of community celebrations in downtown Silver Spring; and (6) creating a model for the maintenance of storm water management facilities in Montgomery County.