Pace Law School to partner on $5 million U.S. grant to educate scientists and policy analysts about sustainable bioenergy

Course, internships to extend promise of agricultural and forestry resources

WHITE PLAINS, NY, January 24, 2011 –Pace Law School’s Energy and Climate Center, as a partner with Cornell University and three other schools, has won a nearly $5 million grant just announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The grant will create educational opportunities in math and science for students interested in bioenergy careers.

Over the next five years, the Pace Energy and Climate Center will receive nearly $100,000 each year. Staff members will use the money to develop multi-disciplinary curricula, recruit teachers and aspiring teachers for a week-long professional development course in July, and host an intern for each of the next five summers at Pace University’s New York City campus.  Pace will be one of five “mirror” sites in the Northeast where such courses will be held, and internships provided.

The July course will focus on the growing bioeconomy. Pace staff and faculty members will cover policy, economics and environmental issues and careers paths, which the teachers will share with their students, who range from middle school through undergraduate level. The 12-week internships will provide an extended learning opportunity for the educators who are selected to work at the NIFA grant partner locations.

Pace also will produce a video: “Meet the Bioeconomy Workforce,” which will depict professionals working in the broad supply-chain segments of the industry today, and will be available for students of the educators participating in the program.

“In making this grant, NIFA recognizes the importance of bio-based products to our energy future,” said James Van Nostrand, executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center.  “Our reliance on fossil fuels is both economically and environmentally unsustainable.  Here in the Northeast, we have a wealth of agriculture and forestry resources, and it is vital that our young people understand both the promise and the limitations of these renewable resources.  We are pleased and honored to have the opportunity to work with the USDA and our project partners in this vital effort.”

Pace will serve as a subcontractor to Cornell University under the NIFA grant. The other subcontractors are the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Delaware State University and Ohio State University.

Zywia Wojnar, research director for science and policy partnerships at the Energy and Climate Center, and co-manager of the grant, noted that Pace is well positioned to train the educators who will teach cutting-edge classes in the bioenergy sectors. “We have a wealth of experience in translating hard science and its policy implications into the language of policymakers, educators and the general public,” said Wojnar.

“Students know that bioenergy is a fast-emerging field,” she added, “and they want to be a part of it.  They are the future leaders. We’re delighted to be able to contribute to the larger national effort to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.”

NIFA also announced this week a $4.67 million grant to the University of Wisconsin, which will partner with the College of Menominee Nation and Michigan State University to strengthen the regional K-16 education system, especially at underserved schools, by supporting teacher learning in matter, energy and ecosystem concepts. The Cornell team will interface and collaborate with the Wisconsin team as appropriate.

Both the Northeast and Midwest projects are funded for five years through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, a competitive grant program established under the 2008 Farm Bill. The initiative funds grants targeting the development of regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy and bio-based products that contribute significantly to reducing dependence on foreign oil; have net positive social, environmental and rural economic impacts; and are compatible with existing agricultural systems.

Pace University School of Law has more than 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law. On its White Plains, NY, campus, it offers JD programs and the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, including the nation’s first graduate level programs in Climate Change and Land Use and Sustainable Development, and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in Environmental Law. The school is recognized for excellence in areas including international, criminal, and public interest law, and clinical education. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County.


Contact: Lauren Rubenstein
Manager, Media Relations
(914) 422-4389
cell (914) 329-8680

Contact: Zywia Wojnar
Co-Manager for the Northeast Bioenergy and Bioproducts Education Program
Pace Energy and Climate Center
(914) 422-4450

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