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Lessons Learned at Penn State on Making the Case for 

Strategic Sustainability Planning and Measuring the Results

"the best workshop...ever"

We often want people to change, but too often we want them to change for the wrong reasons... 

As people working on organizational change towards sustainability, we all know change is needed. Our combined environmental and social challenges require changes of every institution, business and community.

Erik Foley and Jeremy Bean of Penn State's Sustainability Institute have discovered a simple truth about sustainability: people will change for their reasons, not yours.  

So how do we help people find their reasons?  And how do we harness them to solve environmental and social issues?

Too often, sustainability initiatives are implemented from “outside in”--and the people who should be engaged are instead resistant. When you work from the “inside out,” the perception changes and people start to own their responsibility for increasing sustainability.

Whether you are a sustainability officer, a member of your institution’s green team, or in the highest levels of administration on your campus, if you want to move sustainability forward more effectively, this workshop was designed with you in mind. 

In 2012, Penn State's Sustainability Institute had a rare opportunity to answer these questions. Every department and every campus was required to incorporate sustainability into their strategic planning.

This was quite an opportunity, if they could take advantage of it. Plans create budgets which fund priorities which create the activity of the department. But people wouldn't just magically stumble on their reasons for engaging with sustainability. They needed guidance.

SI's Erik Foley describes the experience: "We discovered a simple, but powerful process for finding people's reasons to engage with and ultimately own sustainability. We will share this process and tips we have learned about how to use it with groups big and small.  The six step process and facilitative leadership framework can be used by faculty, staff, sustainability officers, administrators, and students." 

This workshop was developed by Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and presented in a variety of higher education venues including the 2015 Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference, where one participant, Bill Brown, University Director of Sustainability at Indiana University, deemed it the “best workshop I ever attended."

This workshop will:

  • give an overview of the strategic rationale for sustainability planning, 
  • help attendees see the relevance to sustainability at their workplace, 
  • provide a means for strategy development and goal setting, and 
  • discuss a process for implementation, measurement, and tracking. 

The approach: present sustainability as a strategic enabler that helps individual departments in an institution achieve their goals. 

Presenters Jeremy Bean and Erik Foley will share a set of tools that they created and the facilitation techniques that have enabled them to help professionals from any area of higher education find the connection between their mission and sustainability. 

The presenters will share the backstory of sustainability planning at Penn State, why the Sustainability Planning Guidebook was created, and the role it has played thus far. Participants will hear about what was learned along the way and the need for facilitative leadership.  Most importantly, participants will have the opportunity to consider how they can use the tools and resources for sustainability planning in their institution.

The change we need is immense. We believe it can happen and this approach will help. Come learn how to facilitate enduring change. 


  • Jeremy Bean, Assistant Director of Sustainability Planning, Sustainability Institute
  • Erik Foley, Managing Director, Sustainability Institute 

This event is made possible by the Sustainability Institute and by PSU's Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management as well as Sodexo, Schneider Electric and the rest of PERC's sponsors. Thank you.

"Sustainability is essentially a large organizational change" 

Check out this video that Erik and Jeremy made about the workshop....

A sample quote from the video...

"Did you know that 70% of change efforts fail in organizations? Usually those failures are due to the fact that the people who will be implementing the change aren't included in the process... (in the workshop) we'll talk about how to build support from the Inside Out for those change efforts..."

This event is made possible by the Sustainability Institute and by PSU's Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management as well as Sodexo, Schneider Electric and the rest of PERC's sponsors. Thank you.

9AM-- Check-in opens with networking/ light breakfast. 

10AM-Workshop begins.

3PM--Workshop concludes at 3pm. 

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