Although popular press and internal media have dubbed the University of Michigan (U of M) a “sustainability leader”, it is not clear whether this label reflects a true commitment to environmental and interrelated social issues or simply a savvy public relations campaign. This case study (1997‐2002) explores these possibilities by analyzing the environmental organizational change process and outcomes at Michigan through my experiences as a student, activist, researcher and employee. I conclude that while the U of M is not an environmental laggard, the recent media attention exaggerates the campus’ progress by ignoring the fact that sustainability efforts are scattered and have not deeply permeated the culture, leadership, policies and practices of the institution. In terms of campus sustainability advocacy, this analysis highlights the importance of coordination and institutional leaders, a “spark” to move environmental issues onto the campus agenda, and tailoring advocacy approaches to stakeholder interests.
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 1, 2003
Keywords: Ecology; Students; Environmental management; Higher education
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