The FIPSE grant is a program of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education. The Comprehensive Program, awarded to Pratt, is the central grant competition of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The competition is designed to support innovative reform projects that hold promise as models for the resolution of important issues and problems in postsecondary education.

Since the beginning of the FIPSE grant in January of 2008, Pratt Institute has made significant strides forward on its "Greener by Design" initiative in the areas of student scholarship, institutionalization, and replication. In October of 2007, Deb Johnson was appointed as the new Academic Director of Sustainability and Director of the new Interdisciplinary Center for Sustainable Design Studies and Innovation (CSDS). As former Chair of the Industrial Design department, current Director of the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation, and a luminary in the field of socially responsible design, Deb has brought passion as well as a unique understanding of Pratt's culture to her new role.

In November of 2007, Pratt brought together fifty New York City based experts in urban sustainability to strategize as a group concepts that CSDS might champion. This extraordinary gathering was presented within the unique context of Pratt's academic environment, its four schools, and the larger areas of practical applications that Pratt is seeking to explore.

Over the next three months, an internal gathering of both full and part-time Pratt faculty gathered to strategize ways in which CSDS might establish itself as a leader in the urban sustainability movement. This dialogue was guided by recommendations of a FIPSE Steering Committee, established by Deb Johnson as Chair, and including representatives appointed by the Deans of the Schools of Art and Design, School of Architecture, School of Liberal Arts, and the School of Library Sciences. The Steering Committee announced five key objectives, intended to fund faculty led creative clusters, interdisciplinary classes and collaborative studios which will use the campus as a "living lab" and interface with the Facilities and Operations Coordinator.

Faculty Development:
CSDS is supporting a series of efforts to engage and support Pratt's educational community in creating innovative ways to bring environmental awareness to our students. Through seed money provided by the FIPSE grant, we are supporting our faculty’s efforts to learn about the principles of sustainability, develop inter-disciplinary programs that focus on sustainable outcomes and create initiatives that will establish Pratt as a role model of Art and Design schools nationwide.

CSDS Faculty Development Stipends will be awarded to faculty for research and course development. CSDS will also be supporting the development of "CSDS Creative Clusters" for faculty who wish to cultivate new inter-disciplinary courses and projects. We are also soliciting proposals for the CSDS "Living Lab" where the greening of our facilities can be used as a testing ground for academic programming; where students and faculty work together to create new initiatives on our campus.

CSDS Faculty Development Stipends are available through application through department chairs. These awards are to support research, conferences, and activities that will help faculty integrate sustainable principles into existing courses. (For example adding a unit on sustainability in the design history class "Concepts of Design".) This years stipends range from $1000 to $3000. The application requires a brief statement of intent along with a copy of the current syllabus. Please contact your department chair or for more information. You can also download an application form from the provost’s page on the Pratt website.

CSDS Creative Cluster Stipends are another resource for our faculty. Awards range from $2000 to $4000. These awards will support workshops, lectures and the development of courses and projects that include faculty from different departments. These projects may also include partnerships with other institutions. These stipends are to support NEW courses and initiatives. (For example a course that will develop a vehicle to tour the city and educate communities about the environment.) The application process is simple; email a brief statement of intent to or call Deb Johnson at 718 636 3690.

CSDS Living Lab Stipends will support Faculty in integrating facilities and academic initiatives through the development of ideas for greening Pratt's campus. (For example the proposal to find ways to "Improve Bicycle Use on Campus". ) These stipends range from $500 to $2,000. This stipend is to support a written /visual proposal. CSDS will work with faculty to realize administrative support and funding for the project. Email a brief statement of intent to or call Deb Johnson at 718 636 3690 or Tony Gelber 917 750 6314.

Read more about staff involved with FIPSE here.

Living sustainably in an urban environment, that’s an area that we really want to expand on. Pratt is an art, design and architecture school and what we do is create people’s lifestyle. The building you live in, the TV that you watch, the cell phone you carry, your entertainment in terms of computer games, that kind of thing -- fashion, what you wear. So what we want to do, what the Center for Sustainable Design Studies is about, is envisioning a sustainable future, a sustainable lifestyle.
Deb Johnson, Director of CSDS