The Eco-System: Defining Success in Higher Education Sustainability Programs

Authors: Brandon Rothrock*,
Topics: Sustainability Science, Higher Education, Behavioral Geography
Keywords: sustainability, higher-education, peer-to-peer, student-engagement, community
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In a rapidly changing world, sustainability issues will be of utmost importance, and it is imperative for students to have a measurable impact. This poster assesses the effectiveness that peer-to-peer sustainability education programs (specifically EcoRep programs) have on developing sustainability competencies (as defined by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals) with a particular emphasis on how the programs prepare students to tackle sustainability-related issues in their chosen fields. Such competencies include both hard skills (strategic planning, systems thinking, and project management) and soft skills (communications, problem-solving, and inspiring and motivating others). Target schools were selected using the following AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) STARs (Sustainability Training and Assessment Rating System) criteria: gold- and platinum-rated institutions, maximum points in both Student Educators and Student Life assessment categories (4.00 and 2.00 respectively), STARS Version 2.1 or newer, and the presence of an “Eco Rep” program focused on residence hall engagement. At each of the target schools, the Eco Rep coordinators were contacted to identify exemplar students within their programs. Interviews were conducted with the exemplar students to understand the impact of the Eco Rep program on sustainability competencies. The project is a direct result of a capstone in Sustainability Leadership facilitated by the Sustainability Institute at Penn State.

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