Date of Award

Summer 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Environment and Society


Campus sustainability is growing in popularity throughout the United States, and also internationally. The purpose of this study was to determine whether student-run environmental sustainability initiatives are capable of succeeding, and if so, what factors and characteristics exist in successful and unsuccessful projects. Environmental sustainability initiatives are those that address at least one of the following five ares: 1) Air quality and climate change, 2) local food and sustainable agriculture, 3) land conservation and recycling, reducing and reusing, 4) renewable energy, and 5) water conservation. Success was defined as the ability of a program to continue when the initiator leaves the university. Six representatives-faculty or staff members with sustainability experiences and university sustainability roles-from three universities were interviewed using a semi-structured approach. Successful initiatives were hypothesized by the research to require 1) faculty/staff support, 2) funding and 3) specific features and functions for management. Results indicated, however, that while faculty/staff support and funding were important factors; committed students, networking and collaboration were more important than the predicted specific features and functions for management. The results of this study may provide future programs with the framework necessary to succeed and develop permanence, and may aid the many programs and departments at various universities in determining whether a proposed initiative is capable of gaining longevity.



Faculty Mentor

Dr. Roslynn Brain

Departmental Honors Advisor

Dr. Mark Brunson