Achieving campus sustainability: top‐down, bottom‐up, or neither?

Marena Brinkhurst (Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada)
Peter Rose (Physical Resources Department, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada)
, and
Gillian Maurice (Physical Resources Department, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada)
Josef Daniel Ackerman (Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada and Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 20 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The dynamics of organizational change related to environmental sustainability on university campuses are examined in this article. Whereas case studies of campus sustainability efforts tend to classify leadership as either “top‐down” or “bottom‐up”, this classification neglects consideration of the leadership roles of the institutional “middle” – namely the faculty and staff.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw from research conducted on sustainability initiatives at the University of Guelph combined with a review of faculty and staff‐led initiatives at universities across Canada and the USA, as well as literature on best practices involving campus sustainability. Using concepts developed in business and leadership literature, faculty and staff are shown to be universities' equivalent to social “intrapreneurs”, i.e. those who work for social and environmental good from within large organizations.

Findings

Faculty and staff members are found to be critical leaders in efforts to achieve lasting progress towards campus sustainability, and conventional portrayals of campus sustainability initiatives often obscure this. Greater attention to the potential of faculty and staff leadership and how to effectively support their efforts is needed.

Originality/value

In the paper, a case is made for emphasizing faculty and staff leadership in campus sustainability efforts and several successful strategies for overcoming barriers are presented.

Keywords

Citation

Marena Brinkhurst, Peter Rose, Gillian Maurice and Josef Daniel Ackerman (2011) "Achieving campus sustainability: top‐down, bottom‐up, or neither?", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 338-354

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DOI

: https://doi.org/10.1108/14676371111168269

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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