Research in Sustainability

Over 20 percent of Dickinson’s faculty members engage in sustainability research and scholarship, including faculty members in anthropology, art and art history, biology, computer science, earth sciences, economics, English, environmental studies, French, German, health, history, math, music, physics, psychology, sociology and other fields. Topics of their research include climate change, ocean acidification, aquatic ecosystems, water pollution, habitat conservation, gender equality, social inequality, politics of environmental preservation, climate refugees, migration, climate change adaptation, climate change governance, history of sustainable practices, responsible consumption and production, food security, food justice, public health, sustainable communities, solar energy, communities at risk to natural hazards, sustainable agriculture, poverty alleviation, and Buddhist perspectives on the environment and sustainability.

The Association for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) defines sustainability research as research, scholarship and creative work that explicitly address:

  • The concept of sustainability, OR
  • The interdependence of ecological and social or economic systems, OR
  • A major sustainability challenge.

Examples of major sustainability challenges include, but are not limited to, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Research, scholarship or creative work that addresses any of the following challenges, fits the definition of sustainability research.

  • Poverty
  • Hunger
  • Health and well-being
  • Quality education
  • Gender equality
  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Resilient infrastructure
  • Sustainable industrialization and innovation
  • Inequality
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Climate change
  • Ocean conservation
  • Terrestrial ecosystem conservation
  • Peace and justice
  • Institutions and partnerships for sustainability

The Center for Sustainability Education developed a survey instrument to collect information from faculty about their research that was distributed to all faculty by the Provost in 2019. Faculty members were asked if any of their research explicitly addresses the concept of sustainability, the interdependence of ecological systems and social or economic systems, or major sustainability challenges. Examples from above were provided.

The survey also included questions asking  for descriptions of connections between faculty research and sustainability challenges, with whom they engage in sustainability research (students, other Dickinson faculty, researchers from other institutions in the U.S., researchers at institutions outside the U.S., and researchers in disciplinary fields that are different from the respondents. 

55 of 238 faculty members responded to the survey. All who responded reported that they engage in sustainability research. You can view the full inventory at the link below.

Dickinson Sustainability Faculty Research Inventory (2019)