Penn State, University of Freiburg announce virtual classroom award grantees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State and the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg have announced the selection of two proposals for a novel initiative in piloting an online classroom project between the two universities. 

The two offices sought proposals to create collaborative, integrated virtual classroom courses, providing development and implementation money to faculty teams. Successful proposals were expected to cover a topic that is an integral educational component of existing programs, which will ensure regular future offerings.  

The first project, “Bringing International Experts in Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management (IPPM) to the Classroom,“ led by Professor Alexandra Klein at Freiburg and Natalie Boyle, assistant research professor in entomology at Penn State, will deliver a shared virtual classroom experience to students focused on emerging scientific techniques within IPPM. Reports of recent and alarming declines in insect biodiversity and abundance have generated public concern, outrage and speculation over the consequential repercussions for the safety and stability of our planet. An Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management approach has been developed as an adaptable and scalable framework to address these challenges.   

The second project, “Solar Energy Integration and Economics,” led by Professor Anke Weidlich at Freiburg and Mark Fedkin, assistant teaching professor in the John Dutton E-Education Institute/Energy and Mineral Engineering at Penn State, will explore the technical and economic aspects of integration of renewable energy systems into modern grid networks. This idea is built upon the leading position of the University of Freiburg in solar and grid technologies and renowned expertise of Penn State in energy and grid economics. The course will be integrated in two existing online master’s programs and will be co-taught by faculty from both universities.  

“The project seeks to advance online education into the collaborative plane where distance learners would be able to mix and interact in the same virtual classroom space as well as tap into the expertise of two different university programs within a single course,” said Fedkin, project lead at Penn State.

The two sets of classes will strive to develop a model structure and leverage complementary academic capabilities of the universities to create online learning opportunities not possible without the partnership.Classroom activities are slated to begin no later than spring 2021. 

For more information or to submit a proposal for the next round, contact Alexandra Persiko in the Penn State Office of Global Programs at  


Last Updated February 10, 2020