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“Growing” a campus native species garden: sustaining volunteer‐driven sustainability

Kristan L. McKinne (Lancaster County Conservancy, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA)
Angela C. Halfacre (Department of Political Science, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 11 April 2008




This paper aims to examine the challenges of volunteer‐driven college campus sustainability projects through a case study of the development of an urban native plant species garden on the College of Charleston campus in Charleston, South Carolina, USA.


The research used participant observation as the primary data‐gathering technique. The primary author coordinated this volunteer‐driven sustainability project, and recorded observations throughout the process. The authors used content analysis to examine garden volunteer interview data and campus/community documents. These methods allow the reader to view this case first‐hand, providing a unique look at undertaking projects of this nature.


The paper provides specific guidance for creating sustainable sustainability projects in similar communities and college campuses, identifies challenges specific to this case study that are easily generalized to other volunteer‐driven sustainability projects, and provides solution strategies to avoid or address these challenges.

Research limitations/implications

The findings have relevance for projects with similar campus and community characteristics as displayed in the case study, whilst the study provides important guidance for campuses seeking to initiate and sustain volunteer‐driven sustainability projects. Further, it offers a step‐by‐step account of the process of creating a native species garden in an urban environment.

Practical implications

The paper provides a “handbook” for undertaking similar volunteer‐driven sustainability projects.


This paper fulfills a need to provide first‐hand information for the ever‐growing effort to create more sustainable sustainability projects on college campuses world‐wide. It is the first paper of its kind to document the process of campus native species garden creation and the challenges inherent with this type of volunteer‐driven project. Solution strategies are offered that can be followed for those seeking to implement similar sustainability efforts on their campuses.



McKinne, K.L. and Halfacre, A.C. (2008), "“Growing” a campus native species garden: sustaining volunteer‐driven sustainability", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 147-156.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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