Developing a Campus Sustainability Action Plan: Stage II

Authors: Cassandra Shields*, , Randall Wilson*, Gettysburg College
Topics: Sustainability Science
Keywords: Sustainability, College, University, SAP, Grassroots
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In recent decades, colleges and universities have taken a leadership role in developing institution-based Sustainability Action Plans (SAPs). An SAP includes a summation of past achievements, current initiatives, and the prioritized goals and implementation strategies for promoting environmental sustainability. For college campuses, these plans can also serve as pedagogical devices that teach the importance of intentional living, global citizenship, and environmental responsibility. This project presents results from the second stage of an SAP planning process at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. In the first stage, researchers used sustainability data collected by the college and a survey of students, faculty and staff to craft an initial SAP draft in 2016. In the second stage, this draft was disseminated to the campus for feedback using a second round of in-person surveys and stakeholder focus groups in order to refine campus priorities into a final SAP document. The relative increase in data richness between the two rounds of surveys underscored the importance of a two-tiered iterative approach in terms of gathering campus feedback. Not only did this grass-roots process inspire ownership of the SAP, but the planning process appeared to serve as an educational exercise in its own right. Study results offer insight into how an SAP planning process may spark public discourse, serve as a learning tool, and cultivate community-level commitment to sustainability that may increase the likelihood of successful implementation.

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