This project would support the dissertation research of graduate student Enrico J. Wensing to develop the Global Sustainability Inventory (GSI) an assessment instrument to help characterize community leaders for sustainability (CLS). This is a social psychology project that proposes to identify key psychological and social factors that lead to the development and efficacy of community leaders for sustainability, which are known by a number of labels such as cultural creatives, positive deviants, social entrepreneurs, sustainability champions, international social workers, and knowledge or boundary managers; these are the people that actively participate in movements for positive social change within and between communities and seek to help move global societies toward a sustainable future. They make up a very small but effective percentage of the total population.
Utilizing various field sites, PhD Candidate Enrico J. Wensing will research and develop the GSI across a few of the diverse sociocultural communities that are faced with some of the various challenges in a transition toward sustainability and sustainable development. By implementing cross-cultural collaboration to research the assessment instrument, this project proposes to develop the GSI so that it can be administered via the web and ultimately assist the development of community leadership for sustainability across the world.
What are the best practices for working together within and between communities across the world to mitigate and adapt to climate change and move toward a more sustainable future for all? This project sought to begin to answer this question by researching leaders that are currently active in the wide variety of initiatives necessary for adaptation to climate change and community sustainability. Leaders in the Arctic, Caribbean, and USA participated in this project to begin to understand which actions and attitudes best serve community development for sustainability and how to possibly best develop these leaders across global communities. There are of course a wide variety of individuals that are leading their communities toward sustainability. Not all of them are obvious leaders. Some work in the background and some at center stage. Nonetheless, this research began to show that there are similarities in their behavior and perspectives with regard to how they manage themselves, how they work in groups, and how they work in their communities in general. For example, the results of this study showed that community leaders for sustainability in the Arctic, Caribbean, and USA may all have a fundamental profile that includes strong personal and social aspects of leadership, connectedness, and resilience. This is not surprising perhaps given that achieving sustainability is a complex task that requires very good adaptation skills. Through this research we constructed and began testing the Global Sustainability Inventory (GSI), which is a test battery of previously researched measures we brought together to assess what appear to be an idealized set of behavior and attitudes related to generating community sustainability. The GSI is an exciting assessment tool designed to measure some of the individual and social characteristics that will best help to generate sustainable communities. Another result of this research was the emergence of the Sustainable Futures Protocol (SFP), which is a leadership development system that incorporates the GSI into a collaboration format that optimizes action for community sustainability While this grant from the NSF funded the research necessary for the completion of a doctorate by Enrico J. Wensing at Saybrook University, it also began the development of some exiting new instruments (the GSI and SFP) to help forward community based initiatives for sustainability and climate change adaptation. Lastly, this project helped establish a research network that spans the Arctic, Caribbean, and USA with participants eager to work further in this effort as this research continues. The results of this project have been accepted for presentation to an audience of wide interest and expertise at the upcoming international Arctic Observation Summit in Vancouver (www.arcticobservingsummit.org), a future conference regarding community leadership at the University of North Carolina (http://oied.ncsu.edu/selc/) and an upcoming sustainable development conference at Cambridge University, UK (http://www-eesd13.eng.cam.ac.uk).