A System's Approach to Sustainable Development

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Education & Awareness Projects

Sustainability Professionals 2010 Competency Study, International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), Portland, OR (June 2009 – April 2010). The field of sustainability is rapidly growing and evolving. As such, an increasing number of professionals are providing needed services in a variety of areas: planning and auditing, organizational implementation and management systems, energy and waste management, watershed adaptive management, community development, sustainability science, business improvement, building and facilities management to name just a few. With this proliferation comes growing confusion and disparity in the quality and consistency of services as well as potential confusion regarding basic principles and concepts. The time has come to engage the professional community in a dialogue about the competencies professionals in the diverse areas of sustainability should have to bring consistency to the level of professionalism in the field, help those who want to enter the field with their development, and aid consumers in distinguishing among consultants, providers, vendors and potential employees.I collaborated with other Advisory Board members of the ISSP to conduct an inquiry that would forge consensus around the competencies, practices, and methodologies that define the professional practice of sustainable development. This project is creating a comprehensive taxonomy of competencies and skills that define professional conduct and practice in the field. This taxonomy will be a valuable resource to the profession as it would provide clear guidance to members of the field for their new or continuing professional development. This study takes into consideration the complexity of disciplines that are presently engaged in the practice of international sustainable development and the emerging field of sustainability science and included the following:

  1. Identify key stakeholders (national and international) and enlist their engagement in the collective, community process of evaluating and recommending competencies appropriate for the sustainable development practitioner to possess.
  2. Research existing academic programs and other training/learning mechanisms to cull the “sustainability” competencies targeted in their curricula.
  3. Survey corporate America for information on job descriptions and skills personnel recruiters use to hire the “typical” sustainability practitioner.
  4. Produce a Briefing (white) Paper on the findings of research devoted to educational and employment standard skills related to the practice of sustainable development.
  5. Design a workshop process to seek peer-review of competency data collected.

The professionals involved published the Competency Study results in the journal Environmental Quality Management. Once the competencies for practice in sustainable development are identified and agreed to by professionals in this multi-disciplinary field, we will be in a position to partner with Institutions of Higher Education in developing or strengthening curricula to train their graduates. Contact: Dr. Marsha Willard, CEO, AXIS Performance Advisors, Inc. and Int. Soc. Sustainability Prof., Exec. Dir., 2515 NE 17th Ave., Portland, OR 97212. tel: (503) 284-9132. e-mail: marsha@axisperformance.com.

Sustainable Community Development Course Design, Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD (2009). Researched and designed the syllabus for a 12-week, on-line graduate course entitled "Tools for Sustainable Community Development" (Walden University Course MMPA 6821). The primary goal of this course is to equip students with an overall understanding of the meaning of and multiple paths toward sustainable community development, including tools and methodologies that can be used to achieve a livable community and prosperous economy in the larger context of sustainability. The course is designed to employ the elements of sustainable and livable communities, including theories and concepts, to effectively identify and implement the tools most appropriate for advancing any community’s sustainability objectives. This course will prepare students, as future practitioners, to assist communities interested in either improving their economy or totally reinventing themselves. It will give students the ability to holistically facilitate and recommend solutions that simultaneously address the three sustainability imperatives of environmental integrity, social equity, and economic vitality. Students will learn how to listen to stakeholder concerns and to design sustainability strategies in a way that meshes with core values of community stakeholders. In essence, students will be better able to understand overall community dynamics at work in places attempting to improve themselves and achieve some form of community self-defined sustainability. Contact: Ms. Laura Schindler, Senior Course Developer, 650 South Exeter Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. tel: (866)492-5336, ext. 6442. e-mail: laura.schindler@waldenu.edu OR Mr. Todd Johnson, Media Producer, 650 South Exeter Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. tel: (410)843-6238. e-mail: todd.johnson@laureate-inc.com.

Sustainability Indicator Research for Sustainable Seattle, WA. (April-July, 2008). Researched and updated "Communities Count" indicators for the Natural and Built Environment section. These indicators included Air Quality, Water Quality, Land Cover, Farmland Treated with Chemicals, and Commute Choices. Updating of indicators is the same as in the 2005 report and/or are among "B-Sustainable" sets of indicators. For each indicator, the indicator template in Sustainable Seattle database was updated, new public information graph(s) were prepared, a short introduction and a set of narrative bullets for the new report were developed, and the Data Source, Definition, and Limitations of each indicator was clearly identified. Contact: Executive Director, Sustainable Seattle, 1402 Third Avenue, Suite 1220, Seattle, WA 98101. tel: (206)622-3522. e-mail: megan@sustainableseattle.org.

Sustainability Education Curriculum Design and Teaching, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Bainbridge Island, WA (2007-2008). Taught a graduate course in the Bainbridge Graduate Institute's MBA program on “Introduction to Sustainability in Business” and designed the curriculum for and taught a graduate course on “Sustainable Community Economic Development: Design, Tools, & Practice.” Contact: Ms. Jane Silberstein, Associate Dean, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, 284 Madrona Way NE, Suite 124, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. tel: (206) 855-9559. e-mail: jane.silberstein@bgiedu.org.

George Washington University, Washington, DC (2004-2005). Guest lecture in courses related to environmental and economic sustainability. Presented to both undergraduate and graduate students the underlying concepts and principles of sustainable development application as it relates to global business and regional economies. Contact: Dr. Mark Starik, Environmental and Social Sustainability Initiative, George Washington University, 203 Monroe Hall, Washington, DC 20052. tel. (202) 994-5621. e-mail: essi@gwu.edu.

A Better Future, Washington, DC (2003-2004). Joint collaboration with several other committed professionals on a project focused upon developing public communication strategies that would promote specific public behavior changes (1) necessary to achieve an environmentally sustainable world and (2) simple for consumers to understand and implement. Produced a 90 second music-video from this project that is still being viewed today by the public on YouTube (A Better Future).

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN (2004). Guest lecturer for the 2004 Environmental Lecture Series at Purdue University: lecture title - "The Sustainable Development of Water Resources." Also lectured to four different classes in history, architecture, engineering, and ecology on sustainable development. Met with faculty in engineering and environmental studies regarding how to implement ideas of sustainable development teaching "across the curriculum." Contact: Dr. Ronald F. Turco, Professor and Director, Environmental Sciences and Engineering Institute, Potter Engineering Center, Room 326, 500 Central Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2022. tel. (765) 496-3209. e-mail: rturco@purdue.edu.

Clermont County Educational Service Center, Batavia, OH (January-May 2004). Contracted by the Clermont County Educational Service to develop the content for and produce a series of distance-learning lectures and companion on-line learning modules on sustainable development for high school students that focus on national and global issues of sustainability students can relate to in their own communities. Employed distance-learning video-conferencing technology to conducted 12 learning sessions during 2004 that introduced students to the concept of sustainable development and presented educational information on a number of contemporary problems students read about in the newspapers in the context of sustainable development principles. Student learning was further supported by development of sustainable development content modules students could access on-line prior to participating in each week’s video-conference topic. This project reached 18 high schools throughout Ohio and a total of 438 students during the Spring 2004 school year. Contact: Dr. Cathy McDonald, Clermont County Educational Service Center, 2400 Clermont Center Dr., Suite #202, Batavia, OH 45103. tel: (513) 735-8356. e-mail: MacdonaldC@ccesc.org.

National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington, DC (2002-2003). Served for nine months as a Sustainability Conference Planning Committee Member, Assisted the National Council for Science and the Environment in the planning of their 3rd Annual Conference (January 2003) entitled "Education for a Sustainable and Secure Future." As a Conference Planning Committee member contributed to designing the conference agenda, identifying experts to serve as speakers and panelists, and writing parts of the Pre-conference Briefing Document on Sustainability Education and Communication. Also co-designed and co-facilitated a breakout session during the conference that involved 40 Conference participants working on the specific task of defining a "Strategy for a National Public Communications Campaign on Sustainable Development." Contact: Dr. David Blockstein, Senior Scientist, National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), 1101 17th St. NW, Suite 250, Washington, DC 20036. tel: (202) 207-0004. e-mail: david@cnie.org.

West Clermont School District, Milford, OH (2002-2003). Contracted by the West Clermont School District in Cincinnati, OH as a Sustainability Education Consultant to develop a series of distance-learning lectures on sustainable development that focus on global issues emphasized by the WSSD in the summer of 2002, as well as issues the students could relate to in their own communities. Conducted 9 distance-learning sessions during spring semester of 2003 that introduced students to the concept of sustainable development and presented a number on contemporary problems students read about in the newspapers in the context of sustainable development principles. Contact: Mr. James Mangold, 820 Wallace Ave., Milford, OH 45150. tel: (513) 378-8115. e-mail: jmangold@infomedia-vc.com.

Beyond Creation, Muncie, IN (2000-2001). Assisted with the organization's initial planning and formal non-profit structure development. Designed and published the organization's web site. Assisted the organization's founder in the development and exhibition of the EARTH CHILD Project, a mobile playhouse laboratory that demonstrates different aspects of green building design and the ultimate conservation strategies that evolve in watershed protection from consumers utilizing the recommended green building strategies and energy/water conservation strategies in their own households. Assisted in the exhibition of the EARTH CHILD Project mobile laboratory on the Washington, DC Mall during Earth Day in 2001. Contact: Ms. Willow Thomas, Beyond Creation, ARC, P.O. Box 398, Springfield OH 45501. tel: (937) 727-1040. e-mail: WillowT37@aol.com.

Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA (1996). Developed a curriculum for Old Dominion University's Department of Sociology entitled "Science, Sustainable Development, and Global Society" to expand the focus of this university's sociology department in environmental studies. Contact: Dr. Mona Danner, Sociology & Criminal Justice, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529. tel: (757) 683 5931. e-mail: mdanner@odu.edu.

Northampton High School, Eastville, VA. (1996-97) Worked with Northampton County High School on developing a pilot program that links studies of historic culture with an awareness and understanding for the importance of a region's environmental quality by integrating environmental/cultural education into the mainstream teaching of high school courses in a multi-culture setting. Process puts student's learning experiences into a context that is aligned with their life experiences. As a result of this work, published a paper in the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education (1(2):191-202; June, 2000) entitled "Interdisciplinary Education in Sustainability: Links in Secondary & Higher Education - The Northampton Legacy Program."

Xavier University, New Orleans, LA. (1991-93) Designed a multi-cultural, ecological literacy education program (university minor) entitled "Ecology Across the Curriculum" for Xavier University of Louisiana, an Historically Black College & University.

Other Education & Awareness Consultant Activities:

  • Provided client guidance in promoting citizen environmental science -- integrating the "public-way-of-knowing" (citizens) with the "expert-way-of-knowing" (scientists) -- to enhance sound, sustainable environmental manager decision-making capabilities.
  • Published a bi-weekly, on-line (Internet) newsletter entitled "Sustainability Review", subscribed to by more than 3,200 persons from 92 different countries around the world.
  • Designed training programs for communicating sustainable business development strategies.
  • Conducted formal and informal training retreats in adaptive, multi-discipline watershed management for governments, the private sector, NGOs, and communities, stimulating local stakeholder involvement in community-based environmental protection activities.
  • Authored "Living a Sustainable Lifestyle for Our Children's Children," a book published by iUniverse in 2001. This book presents ideas and concepts about environment and economy in a way that decodes, de-mystifies, and puts into layman's terms elements society must consider in trying to achieve sustainable development.

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Last Update: 1/1/15
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