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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sustainability in Higher Education: How Does the Process of Campus Greening Trigger Adaptive Social Learning?
by Laffitte, Lucy Bennison, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, 2010, 433; 3442530
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this dissertation was to answer the research question: Does the presence of a balance of social, economic, and ecological dimensions during an implementation of campus greening trigger the indicators of adaptive social learning? The selection of the terms embedded in the research question was based upon a literature review of the term sustainable development in three different contexts—the United Nations history, the Sustainability in Higher Education movement, and Organizational Development literature. A qualitative case study approach was used to investigate three stream improvement projects. Semi structured interviews were conducted to understand the social, economic and ecological perspectives of a purposive sample of university administrators and key campus stakeholders. Using a process/outcome matrix, I looked for an association between a balanced decision process and a specific learning outcome by crafting two hypotheses that evaluated the degree of balance at two levels—a macro level analysis of balance and a micro level analysis of balance. The macro level analysis examined the balance of social, economic and ecological perspectives present at the decision making table. The micro level analysis examined the balance of social, economic, and ecological considerations during the phases of the decision process. At the macro level analysis in Hypothesis 1, the association between balance and learning was found to be inconclusive—the balance of social, economic, and ecological perspectives was not associated with the emergence of adaptive social learning. The majority of participants’ perspectives were found to be too complex to be classified as a single social, economic, or ecological dimension. More often than not, participants were found to advocate for more than one perspective when it came to having a social, economic, or ecological perspective. At the micro level analysis in Hypothesis 2, the association between the degree of balance of social, economic, and ecological considerations and the amount of adaptive social learning was suggestive of a relationship between the two variables. Adaptive social learning appeared to be triggered where decision makers persisted to integrate two competing dimensions and allowed the time for iteration.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Steelman, Toddi A., Blank, Gary
School: North Carolina State University
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-B 72/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Natural Resource Management, Water Resource Management, Organization Theory, Sustainability
Keywords: Adaptive social learning, Campus greening, Stream restoration
Publication Number: 3442530
ISBN: 978-1-124-47197-6
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