Shrivastava named top sustainability officer, Sustainability Institute director

University Park, PA – Paul Shrivastava, recently the executive director of Future Earth, a global environmental change research program, as well as a prominent researcher in the fields of sustainability, risk and crisis management, has been named the university’s chief sustainability officer and director of the Penn State Sustainability Institute.

“Penn State’s commitment to sustainability touches every area of our University, and involves hundreds of students, faculty and staff. As chief sustainability officer, Paul will have a lead role in guiding us to an even greater impact,” said Penn State President Eric Barron.   

As the director of Future Earth, Shrivastava helped establish five global hubs and four regional centers, as well as transdisciplinary “Knowledge Action Networks” to extend the impact of the organization’s research projects and its network of 50,000 scientists. 

Shrivastava said, “I am very excited about Penn State’s wide disciplinary base, its interdisciplinary research and deep engagement with communities across its 23 campuses.  With the University’s traditional strengths in agriculture, engineering, healthcare, arts and humanities, we are uniquely positioned to lead the Commonwealth and the country in implementing sustainable development goals and the global Agenda 2030 agreement that the United States signed in 2015.”

Prior to his work with Future Earth, Shrivastava served as the David O’Brien Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, and the director of the David O’Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, at the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal. He has served as the Howard I. Scott Chair and professor of management at Bucknell University, where he was also the senior advisor on sustainability. Shrivastava received his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, and he was a tenured associate professor of management at the New York University Stern School of Business.

Shrivastava’s academic service has included the development of online learning communities, courses and entire platforms, as well as workshops and courses to train faculty on successfully utilizing online learning systems. Shrivastava also leads the International Research Chair on Art and Sustainable Enterprise at the ICN Business School, Nancy, France. “This project is based on the assumption that science alone cannot solve all problems of sustainability. At least part of our current environmental crisis is rooted in a deficit of emotional connection between humans and nature. Art as a repository and vehicle of human emotions needs to be integrated with the science of sustainability to achieve compelling solutions,” Shrivastava said.

The Penn State Sustainability Institute provides many university-wide programs at Penn State, including Green Teams, Green Paws and the Reinvention Fund, which has awarded more than $875,000 for sustainability-related projects. Public-facing programs include the Sustainable Communities Collaborative, which focuses on developing University partnerships around community-identified projects.

“Through our strengths in interdisciplinary research, Penn State is already making an impact with research on topics that are crucial to sustainability,” said Neil Sharkey, vice president for Research. “Paul’s experience in not only teaching and research, but in management and global environmental consulting, will help continue to strengthen Penn State’s position as a thought-leader on issues of campus, local and global sustainability.”

Shrivastava will succeed Denice Wardrop, senior scientist and professor of geography and ecology at Penn State, who served as the director since its inception as a standalone institute. Thomas Richard, director of Penn State’s Institute of Energy and Environment, will oversee the university’s sustainability efforts until Shrivastava assumes leadership. 

“We thank Denice for her tireless efforts to help grow the Sustainability Institute into the organization that it is today,” Sharkey said. “She has worked to build and provide direction to an outstanding team that is well-positioned to carry the mission of the institute far into the future. We also thank Dr. Richard for his willingness to fill the void over the next few months."

Shrivastava’s appointment is effective July 1, 2017. 

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Last Updated April 26, 2017