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Pacific University

Partnership and Collaboration

Like many organizations in our area, EdenAcres enjoys a collaborative relationship with Pacific University. We offer a variety of opportunities for Pacific students who are interested in sustainability and/or education. We support instructors wanting to get their students out into the community and we work with programs to support curriculum and offer courses. Through our work with them, Pacific University lives out its mission as a diverse and sustainable community dedicated to discovery and excellence in teaching, scholarship and practice. Pacific University inspires students to think, care, create, and pursue justice in our world. 

We work with faculty across disciplines to develop and deliver experiential activities for students that address course learning goals. Courses we've worked with include:

  • Environmental Studies: 

    • Permaculture Design Science

    • Food Systems 

  • Civic Engagement: 

    • Healthy Lifestyles

    • Food for Thought and Action

  • Art:

    • Design for Sustainability

  • Education:

    • Community-Based Solutions in Education 

    • Education for Sustainability

    • Applied Experiential Learning

The College of Education has contracted with us to teach a course on designing and using the outdoor classroom:


EDUC 355 Education for Sustainability

This course introduces students to the outdoor classroom as a powerful learning environment for students of all ages. Emphasis is on using the creative thinking process to design both the classroom and activities to support academic achievement across disciplines through integrative and experiential learning. STEM to STEAM, Place-based, and Project-based pedagogies will be explored, as will non formal forms of education such as outdoor immersion and adventure/exploration. In addition, students will explore strategies for gaining approval and institutional buy-in for adopting education for sustainability.  Students will review the history of the national No Child Left Inside movement as well as its current impact on Oregon education standards.

EDUC 355 Curriculum for Outdoor Classrooms 

In this course, students will learn to create outdoor learning spaces that are curiosity inspiring, thought provoking, engaging, and honor the needs of children. We will follow a ten part process to design an outdoor classroom and learn how to engage students in the process every step of the way.  Students will be able to design and implement an outdoor classroom and will be able to create and deliver complimentary curriculum. In this course students will learn strategies for developing collaborative relationships with the community, parents, and administrators for ongoing care and maintenance of the space.


  1. Connect: with community resources and partners.

  2. Study: native species, habitats, and ecosystems.

  3. Investigate: the natural and cultural history of your place.

  4. Analyze: soil, water, slope, sun/shade, vegetation, and physical and aesthetic qualities and requirements.

  5. Plan: a butterfly garden, rain garden, grassland, woodland, or wetland restoration.

  6. Prepare; a project timeline and prepare the site.

  7. Plant: seeds, transplant seedlings, and celebrate!

  8. Care: for your space. Create signage.

  9. Research: the communities and systems related to your space. Ask questions, make observations, record data.

  10. Learn: study language arts, science, math, social studies, music, art, life skills, love of nature.

We also support the Art Department's Design for Sustainability course:


ARTST 207 Design for Sustainability

This course focuses on the design process as a tool for conceiving and planning sustainable communities patterned on examples provided by nature. We will consider strategies for producing necessities such as food, energy, shelter, and clothing in ways that enhance lifestyles, strengthen communities, and promote ecological health. Students will learn the principles, practices, and processes of sustainable design through reading, writing, discussion, and hands-on practice in the community. This course carries a requirement of working 3 hours/week outside of class at one of the sustainability-oriented education sites in our community. Course completes the Civic Engagement requirement. Students who successfully complete both ARTST 207 and ARTST 307 Leadership by Design are eligible for the Permaculture Design Certificate.

Work-study, Internships, Civic Engagement 

As a community partner, we can hire Pacific students through the federal work-study program. We can also support internships for credit and are connected to several faculty members who can provide academic grounding for a variety of disciplinary directions. If you have an interest in environmental education, sustainable design, STEM to STEAM, non-profits, or organizational development (such as grant writing or serving on our board) please contact us. Or give us a call at (440) 479-4813. 

The Center for Civic Engagement at Pacific University fosters an engaged campus that connects students, faculty, and staff with community partners to serve the common good, revitalize our community, and facilitate learning within a community context. The Center promotes the value of life-long active citizenship, building a sense of empowerment to effect meaningful social participation while cultivating the development of critical thinking skills and the capacity to reflect on one’s own set of values. Through CE projects and CE courses, students have contributed to our work with youth and the environment in many ways.

EdenAcres was born out of a desire from Pacific students and faculty to work together to explore sustainability education and place-based learning for K12 students in the Forest Grove community. Our current director is a Pacific alum, who started our summer camp as her capstone project. Pacific faculty are instructors for some of our camps and Pacific allows us to use its facilities for some of our activities. Students, alumni, and faculty continue to serve on our board.  One of our members participates in our activities as part of her socially-engaged art practice, which she has presented in multiple academic publications and conferences.

Scholarship & Creative Inquiry

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