Student Sustainability Leadership Development at Portland State University: Developing Holistic Sustainability Leaders [report]

Megan Schneider
2000 unpublished
In order to address the myriad of social, economic, and environmental challenges the world is facing, we need to be able to engage in leadership that fosters collective action towards sustainable solutions. Higher education is an institution that can equip people with the abilities to engage in sustainability leadership. This master's thesis research explores how students develop sustainability leadership through their college experience. Nine students, who had been identified as sustainability
more » ... leaders through their participation in the Student Sustainability Center (SSC), a co-curricular sustainability program at Portland State University, were selected to be part of this grounded theory research project. The results showed that student sustainability leadership was supported primarily by developing a sustainability oriented community, a holistic understanding of sustainability, and a holistic self. These findings align with the literature on sustainability leadership, as sustainability leadership requires a complex, integrated, and holistic understanding of sustainability concepts, and of oneself, in order to work relationally with others towards change. The results of the study suggest that the SSC offers effective sustainability leadership development opportunities for students by providing programming that reflects the sustainability leadership values the program holds. This study also offers a critical perspective that begins to examine how sustainability leadership ought to be held accountable to Indigenous perspectives that bring dominant power systems into question in order to dismantle the systems that cause unsustainability. ii Acknowledgements Throughout the process of doing my thesis I have come to see my lived experience reflected in my research. I would not have been able to do this project without my community.
doi:10.15760/etd.7234 fatcat:mrkv326k3rb77ozluhypivmcna