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Transforming US higher education to support sustainability science for a resilient future: the influence of institutional administrative organization

Abstract

Interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability (IES) academic programs have an important and distinctive role in education for sustainability: preparing sustainability-oriented problem solvers who work at the science–policy, science–management, and policy–management interfaces. IES programs are rapidly expanding at college and universities in the USA and exhibit a variety of forms, including interdisciplinary degree programs housed within a traditional department; programs that span departments, a college, multiple colleges, or the entire university; programs that reside in their own IES departments, schools, or colleges; and degree programs located within IES institutes and centers. A very few institutions are addressing IES education in a holistic manner by developing dedicated campuses for sustainability education or reorganizing their entire campus structure to support sustainability science education and research. This paper presents how Unity College, a small environmental college, reorganized its administrative structure, curriculum and pedagogy around a sustainability science framework. It also illustrates the influence that various forms of IES programs have on sustainability education in the USA as revealed by national studies conducted by the Center for Environmental Education Research of the National Council for Science and the Environment.

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Correspondence to Shirley Vincent.

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Vincent, S., Mulkey, S. Transforming US higher education to support sustainability science for a resilient future: the influence of institutional administrative organization. Environ Dev Sustain 17, 341–363 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-015-9623-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-015-9623-4

Keywords

  • Sustainability education
  • Higher education
  • Interdisciplinary environmental education
  • Higher education administration