Published In

Sustainability: The Journal of Record

Document Type


Publication Date



Sustainability -- Study and teaching, Sustainability development -- Study and teaching -- Higher education, Interdisciplinary approach in education, Portland State University


Many of the central sustainability challenges facing society today—climate change, social inequality, and resource degradation, to name a few—are socially complex, politically fraught, and imperfectly understood. To be able to effectively engage in addressing such “wicked problems,” individuals need a mixture of content knowledge and soft skills that enable them to critically analyze these challenges from a systems perspective, develop creative solutions, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively with others who may not share common views. Such skill sets and abilities are also more generally valuable in navigating personal, organizational, and societal complexities. Portland State University’s (PSU) Pathways to Sustainability Careers initiative seeks to better integrate programs that provide students with the knowledge and experience they need to engage with complex problems and be competitive and effective in sustainability-related careers. While PSU already offers a number of programs relevant to this effort, these opportunities are scattered across the university; finding these opportunities and organizing them into a coherent and complementary set of experiences can be challenging. The Pathways effort is focused on more effectively knitting together existing programs and emergent initiatives from across the university in order to engage faculty and staff through a collective action approach. By doing so, this initiative endeavors to provide a more intentional, cohesive, and easily navigable set of pathways for students, which will provide them with the academic knowledge, leadership skills, and real-world experiences needed to engage with “wicked” problems, and prepare them to successfully navigate an increasingly complex world.


This is a copy of an article published in Sustainability: The Journal of Record © 2014 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Sustainability: The Journal of Record is available online at:



Persistent Identifier