Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transitioning to green: Implementing a comprehensive environmental sustainability initiative on a university campus
by Rasmussen, Joseph E., Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2011, 260; 3485376
Abstract (Summary)

Environmental sustainability has become increasingly relevant to institutions of higher education in recent years. Although there may be general support for environmental sustainability on many college and university campuses, it can be challenging for educational leaders to effectively implement comprehensive green campus initiatives. Change in higher education is described by scholars as slow and difficult. This makes it complicated, on many levels, to effectively implement environmentally sustainable policies and practices in institutions of higher education. Although literature articulates the context of environmental sustainability in higher education and describes associated green practices, little addresses the process of how green campus initiatives are implemented in higher education. Through a combination of interviews, observations, and document review, this case study explored how a university implemented a comprehensive environmental sustainability initiative.

The conceptual framework for this study, a hybrid between a nested model of sustainability and Bolman and Deal's Four Frames model, provided a lens through which educational leaders can view the complexities involved with implementing green campus initiatives. This conceptual model emphasized the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainability as well as the role of structural, human resource, political, and symbolic practices in realizing change for sustainability. Triangulation of data demonstrated that Coastal Bluff University (CBU) employed a number of strategies to overcome the obstacles inherent in this implementation process. Three emergent themes provided an organizational structure for this case study's description: Greening of Worldviews, Improving Green Campus Practices, and Leading a University-Wide Effort.

CBU implemented a comprehensive environmental sustainability initiative by engaging in an on-going, iterative institutional change process. CBU's approach to campus greening united ethics and pragmatism to drive campus decision making. This approach resulted in changes to campus operations, such as recycling, generating renewable energy, and irrigating with reclaimed water. Moreover, CBU expanded academic degree programs in this area and infused sustainability across the curriculum. This transition to green was the result of a concerted effort to re-think the goals of the university, plan with the well-being of current and future generations in mind, and commit funding to initiatives that could demonstrate economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Haviland, Don J.
Commitee:
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Environmental education, Educational leadership, Environmental management, Sustainability
Keywords: Campus sustainability, Environmental initiative, Green campus, Leadership, Sustainability
Publication Number: 3485376
ISBN: 9781267019103
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