Developing and Sustaining Sustainability-Related Academic Programming: Observations of Emerging Practices
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This paper offers an overview and summary of selected sustainability-related academic programs and certificates delivered by universities and colleges that are located within the same geographic area (Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.). The authors evaluated the holistic and practical dimensions of creating and sustaining educational programs and reviewed emerging outcomes from universities with a history of prosperous programs to recommend models of applicability. The study focused on the role of internal and external leadership, political and appointed officials, networking of various stakeholders, demand for sustainability in education, and the resources commitment in staffing the programs. The authors analyzed internal reports and documents in the context of sustainability in education and longevity of programs. The findings related to the concepts of successfully developing and sustaining sustainability-related academic programs in Grand Rapids (MI) are examined within a broad and holistic context encompassing educational, programmatic, socioeconomic, organizational, and leadership dimensions. While further research is warranted, all elements add value to the conceptual framework of developing and supporting sustainability-related academic programming, with potential lessons and implications for programmatic approaches to education domestically and abroad.