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Sustainability: The Journal of Record

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There is growing interest in partnerships between universities and communities and how such collaborations can help address the wicked challenges facing the world today. This article traces the development of the institutional commitments at Portland State University (PSU) in its efforts to build sustainability-focused community–university partnerships. The Institute for Sustainable Solutions at PSU has served as a mechanism to catalyze and nurture such partnerships on and off campus. This article examines two cases under the Portland Climate Action Collaborative that illustrate how community–university partnerships have emerged, what impacts they have had on the community, and what factors contributed to their success. Interviews with university and community representatives throughout the Pacific Northwest on important considerations in the process of building effective, high-impact partnerships provide insights and some key takeaways that include: the value of having an institutional unit that can defray transaction costs and serve as a matchmaker and support structure for programs and projects; the importance of relationship building over time to help develop trust and organizational understanding; the impact that sustained funding, even in small amounts, can have in terms of providing student support and allowing faculty time to invest in project and programs; and the need to balance clarity of project scope with flexibility to allow projects and relationships to grow and evolve.


Copyright 2017, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Sustainability: The Journal of Record. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Sustainability: The Journal of Record.



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