Institutionalizing sustainability in community colleges : the role of the college president Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9g54xk85t

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  • The purpose of this research study was to describe and improve understanding of the meaning of institutionalized sustainability and the role that a college president plays in institutionalizing sustainability on a community college campus. The following questions guided the research: (a) What does it mean to have sustainability “institutionalized” at community colleges that are judged to be exemplary in this regard? (b) What are the important influences to achieving institutionalization of sustainability in community colleges? (c) What role has the college president played in addressing influences to institutionalizing sustainability at community colleges that are exemplary in this respect? The philosophic approach was interpretive social science and the research method was case study. This study involved visiting three community college campuses, which made up the cases, and collecting data, primarily through interviews, which were supplemented by review of documents and observations of the participant’s home institution. For each of the cases, two interviews were conducted. One was with the college president, and one was with a sustainability champion. Five themes describing the meaning of institutionalized sustainability emerged from the individual case studies. These themes were: (a) widespread use of sustainability practices, (b) sustainability incorporated across curriculum, (c) frequent assessment of sustainability impact, (d) extensive student involvement in sustainability activities, and (e) knowledge of sustainability of leaders. Four of the same themes were evident for all of the colleges: (a) widespread use of sustainability practices, (b) sustainability incorporated across curriculum, (c) frequent assessment of sustainability impact, and (d) knowledge of sustainability of leaders. Four themes emerged from the interviews concerning what were the important influences to achieving institutionalization of sustainability in community colleges. These themes were: (a) lack of financial resources, (b) cross disciplinary sustainability initiatives, (c) lack of support in sustainability by district leaders, and (d) passionate support of sustainability by college community. A key finding of my study in regard to the second research question was the discovery that two themes concerning the institutionalization of sustainability were shared by two of the colleges: (a) lack of financial resources, and (b) cross disciplinary sustainability initiatives. Three general themes emerged from the interviews, observations, and supporting documents concerning what role the college president played in addressing institutionalizing sustainability in community colleges. These themes were: (a) support sustainability at every opportunity, (b) incorporate sustainability into strategic plan, and (c) sign on to national sustainability initiatives. A key finding of my study in regard to the third research question was that all three of the themes concerning the role the college president played in addressing influences to institutionalizing sustainability were shared by all of the colleges.
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