Sustainability Institute supports Page Center survey on awareness, attitudes

February 19, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Reinvention Fund of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute is helping to support the latest venture by the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, which intends to conduct a large-scale national survey to gauge public attitudes, beliefs, opinions and knowledge about sustainability.


“We are inviting communication scholars from all over to join the effort to design this survey and to submit specific survey-experiment modules to test and refine sustainability theory,” said Lee Ahern, a senior research fellow for Page Center. Scholars whose proposals are funded will retain exclusive rights to the data obtained from their individual survey-experiment modules. The Page Center will publish summary statistics when the national survey is completed.


The project is an initiative of the Page Center’s new Sustainability Communication Initiative (SCI), managed by Ahern. The SCI supports teaching, service, research and creative activity exploring how the concept of sustainability is constructed and how the communication of this concept has emerged and evolved. It also looks at how sustainability communications have impacted individuals, organizations and society.


“This project is a critical piece in the ability of higher education to mount adequate responses to the grand challenges facing us,” said Denice Wardrop, director of the Sustainability Institute. “Untangling the concept of sustainability and understanding how we can best integrate it into our thinking is foundational to our efforts.”


The national survey planned by the Page Center’s SCI will address several broad topics:


-- the defining of “sustainability;”


-- the emergence of sustainability as a concept and communicative practice;


-- the evolution of sustainability as a concept and communicative practice; and


-- describing, explaining and predicting the impact of sustainability communications on individuals, organizations and society.


“Proposals from researchers that focus on topics that are part of or are closely related to sustainability -- energy, environmental, renewables, science and the like -- are also welcome,” said Ahern.


Ahern believes the Page Center’s national sustainability survey will be the first of its kind. Although a number of surveys address sustainability, most are provided by market research companies and focus on the corporate perspective. Other surveys solicit feedback from specific organizations on how they should address the issue, or evaluate the level of compliance with sustainability standards (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, etc.) within an industry or economic sector.


Penn State’s Sustainability Institute provided the funding to the Page Center to found the SCI. The Sustainability Institute was created to lead Penn State toward the University’s sustainability mission: a comprehensive integration of sustainability into the University’s research, teaching, outreach and operations that prepares students, faculty and staff to be sustainability leaders in their professional, personal and civic lives.


The deadline for the receipt of proposals is April 17. The full call for proposals can be found online. The value of the grants awarded will usually range from $1,000 to $10,000.


The Page Center, a research housed in the Penn State College of Communications, is named for Arthur W. Page, a pioneer in the field of corporate public relations. Page was known for his principled approach to communication. It also draws inspiration from Robert Wood Johnson, who devised a credo under which the Johnson & Johnson firm sought to serve the public interest first.


The Page Center seeks to foster a modern understanding and application of Arthur W. Page’s principles and Robert Wood Johnson’s business philosophy by supporting innovative research, educational or public service projects in a wide variety of academic disciplines and professional fields.


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Last Updated September 20, 2019