Grassroots participation integrated with strong administration commitment is essential to address challenges of sustainability leadership: tools for successfully meeting in the middle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


As higher education addresses the challenges of climate neutrality and sustainability, responsibilities mount on leaders of interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability academic programs (IEPs). Sustainability operations and academic programs help create cultures of sustainability, engaging students, faculty, and staff. As this culture develops, it must mesh with the planning, budgeting, and decision-making processes of senior administrators. This integration process requires an interdisciplinary approach to understand the differing missions and objectives, vocabularies and key concepts, administrative structures, and cultures not just across all academic units but also across all non-academic units. Organization of sustainability activities takes a wide range of forms, from a centralized model where academics and operations are combined within a single unit to a distributed model where sustainability curricula, co-curricula, planning, and operations take place in a variety of units, linked through campus committees and sustainability plans. This paper examines the challenges and tested solutions to address sustainability leadership at an institutional level, across the range of organization models, from centralized to distributed. One common element of these solutions is top-down commitment, combined with bottom-up participation in the development and implementation of new efforts in sustainability education and operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-404
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016



  • Culture of sustainability
  • Solutions for sustainability leadership challenges
  • Sustainability leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geography, Planning and Development

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