Sustainability in Higher Education

From Urban and Industrial Environments

Sustainability in Higher Education

Stories and Strategies for Transformation

Edited by Peggy F. Barlett and Geoffrey W. Chase

Campus leaders describe how community colleges, publicly funded universities, and private liberal arts colleges across America are integrating sustainability into curriculum, policies, and programs.





Campus leaders describe how community colleges, publicly funded universities, and private liberal arts colleges across America are integrating sustainability into curriculum, policies, and programs.

In colleges and universities across the United States, students, faculty, and staff are forging new paths to sustainability. From private liberal arts colleges to major research institutions to community colleges, sustainability concerns are being integrated into curricula, policies, and programs. New divisions, degree programs, and courses of study cross traditional disciplinary boundaries; Sustainability Councils become part of campus governance; and new sustainability issues link to historic social and educational missions. In this book, leaders from twenty-four colleges and universities offer their stories of institutional and personal transformation.

These stories document both the power of leadership—whether by college presidents, faculty, staff, or student activists—and the potential for institutions to redefine themselves. Chapters recount, among other things, how inclusive campus governance helped mobilize students at the University of South Carolina; how a course at the Menominee Nation's tribal college linked sustainability and traditional knowledge; how the president of Furman University convinced a conservative campus community to make sustainability a strategic priority; how students at San Diego State University built sustainability into future governance while financing a LEED platinum-certified student center; and how sustainability transformed pedagogy in a lecture class at Penn State. As this book makes clear, there are many paths to sustainability in higher education. These stories offer a snapshot of what has been accomplished and a roadmap to what is possible.

Colleges and Universities CoveredArizona State University • Central College, Iowa • College of the Menominee Nation, Wisconsin • Curriculum for the Bio-region Project, Pacific Northwest • Drury University, Missouri • Emory University, Georgia • Florida A&M University • Furman University, South Carolina • Green Mountain College, Vermont • Kap'olani Community College, Honolulu, Hawaii • Pennsylvania State University •San Diego State University • Santa Clara University, California • Slippery Rock State University, Pennsylvania • Spelman College, Georgia • Unity College, Maine • University of Hawaii–Manoa • University of Michigan • University of South Carolina • University of South Florida • University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh • Warren Wilson College, North Carolina • Yale University


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262019491 336 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 3 charts, 1 graph


$30.00 T ISBN: 9780262519656 336 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 3 charts, 1 graph


Peggy F. Barlett

Peggy F. Barlett is Professor of Anthropology at Emory University. She received a BA in anthropology from Grinnell College (1969) and the PhD in anthropology at Columbia University (1975). A cultural anthropologist specializing in agricultural systems and sustainable development, she carried out fieldwork in economic anthropology in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and rural Georgia (USA). Earlier work focused on farmer decision making, rural social change, and industrial agriculture. She has published Agricultural Choice and Change: Decision Making in a Costa Rican Community (1982, Rutgers University Press), American Dreams, Rural Realities: Family Farms in Crisis (1993, University of North Carolina Press) and is editor of Agricultural Decision Making: Anthropological Contributions to Rural Development (1980, Academic Press). Recently, interests in the challenge of sustainability in urban Atlanta have given her an opportunity to return to early training in applied anthropology and to combine it with interests in political economy, group dynamics, and personal development. Part of a growing movement toward sustainability at Emory, she has focused on expanding awareness of environmental issues through curriculum development (the Piedmont Project), campus policies, and connections to place. She also has interests in local food systems and a local Watershed Alliance. She is the coeditor (with Geoffrey Chase) of Sustainability on Campus: Stories and Strategies for Change (MIT Press, 2004).

Geoffrey W. Chase

Geoffrey W. Chase is Dean of Undergraduate Studies at San Diego State University. He is the editor of four textbooks and the coeditor (with Peggy Barlett) of Sustainability on Campus: Stories and Strategies for Change (MIT Press).


  • This work will appeal to environmentalists and educators looking for leadership examples of passionate engagement along with analysis and careful academic planning.

    Library Journal


  • Stories from a growing revolution that is transforming campus operations and curriculum in higher education, told by intrepid and creative educators at the forefront. A must-read for administrators, faculty, students, and everyone interested in education.

    David W. Orr

    Oberlin College

  • From among the diverse and flourishing efforts all across the US to embody sustainability in higher education, Barlett and Chase have again demonstrated that they have an uncanny ability to identify, coax, and pluck the sweetest and juiciest examples. Whether reflecting back on personal growth as an instructor or recounting the ways students were able to make community-wide shifts in just a couple of years that had eluded other leaders for decades, the book's enthralling series of first-person narratives document the next phase of transformation, from pedagogical, to technical, to cultural.

    L. Julian Keniry

    co-founder of National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Program; author of Ecodemia and other publications

  • Every 100 years or so, American colleges and universities begin a morphing process. These institutions have morphed from colonial colleges to universities, from local teaching academies to universities, or from colleges without degree programs to organized centers for advanced learning with many subjects being taught. Here in the twenty-first century, a new transformation has begun. Colleges and universities of all types, sizes, and histories are advancing a new integrated learning focus on sustainability. This new focus, built around a value outcome rather than a science outcome only, is well outlined in this reader and is critical for all designers of our teaching, learning, and discovery enterprises to consider as they prepare the next generations for the complexities that we will all face as we attempt to build a more sustainable future.

    Michael M. Crow

    President, Arizona State University