Can a University’s Public Affairs Mission Move the Institution beyond Sustainability?

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By Alexander Wait

Eco cityscape around a recycle iconInstitutions of higher learning spend considerable time linking their mission to every facet of the institution. More recently, considerable attention to sustainability has been a focus of almost every higher learning institution in the United States and many abroad. This paper is a case study exploring whether an institution with a strong, state-mandated mission in public affairs has infused sustainability into its mission or developed sustainability independent of its mission. Surveys of sustainability and public affairs curricula illustrate that curriculum based on the public affairs mission is dictated from the top, but that curriculum based on sustainability is a choice of individual faculty and academic departments. As a result, public affairs and sustainability are not linked at the curricular level. However, this case study illustrates administrative initiatives and student attitudes that indicate that a public affairs mission can move an institution “beyond sustainability.”