The Global Sustainability Fellows Program seeks to inspire, inform, mobilize, and prepare future generations of international leaders in all sectors of society by imparting the core competencies required to effectively tackle urgent sustainability challenges on a local, regional and planetary scale.
The GSF Program is the newest initiative of The Sustainability Laboratory, a thought-leader in the global transition to a sustainable future. The program’s foundation is The Lab’s unique theoretical framework, offering an uncommonly rigorous and comprehensive approach to addressing issues of sustainability, change processes, and development. By incorporating this rigorous theoretical orientation with hands-on, experience-based learning, international exposure, and cross-disciplinary work, the GSF offers a road map for developing model sustainability processes and guiding project planning and implementation, within a context that accounts for the complexity of real-world systems.
Students from 16 countries on five continents, and representing a range of disciplines, participated in the pilot session of the GSF Program, which took place over two summer sessions at EARTH University in Costa Rica, during July of 2014 and August of 2015.
By incorporating The Lab’s rigorous theoretical orientation with hands-on, experience-based learning, international exposure, and cross-disciplinary work, the GSF experience adds an essential dimension to the education students receive at their home institutions.
The pilot sessions culminated in the creation of a comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan for Martina Bustos, a Costa Rican community facing significant civic, social and environmental challenges.
This development plan will be the basis for “Project Transition,” which we anticipate will be implemented with the help of The Lab, past fellows, EARTH University, local NGOs, community leaders, and local and regional government.
As the GSF program grows, community-based projects that have sprung from fellows’ work will serve as a real-world testament to the efficacy of the GSF approach, modeling solutions for communities all over the world who are struggling with similar issues.
Participants in the pilot sessions are the first members of the GSF Alumni Association, a professional, interdisciplinary network, where a common purpose, language and framework serve as the basis for game-changing sustainability innovations and initiatives worldwide.
“I want to create a definition of sustainable practices that I can incorporate into my future work as an architect. As a student peering out of the academic bubble, I seek to understand how ‘sustainability’ can move from the theoretical to the tangible without losing the clarity of the idea.”Christopher Taleff Global Sustainability Fellow from the USA
“Meeting a diversity of inspiring, like-minded people, determined to making the world a better place, helps to reignite one’s optimistic spirit, in the face of all the challenges that lie ahead. Now it’s time to get to work!”Conrad Steinhilber Global Sustainability Fellow from Germany
“By using group model building and qualitative modeling, we could integrate the stakeholders in the process of developing the plan. It was great to experience what a powerful tool system dynamics can be, and how the participants of the workshop engaged in the task given.”Therese Bennich Global Sustainability Fellow from Sweden
“As a person brought up in a poor, rural area, I understand that the heaviest brunt of the effects of climate change, environmental degradation and poor leadership are faced on a daily basis by those whose ecological footprint is too insignificant to mention. I therefore desire to be a leader in transforming the lives and livelihoods of the very poor, marginalized, and hard-to-reach people.”Boru Halkano Global Sustainability Fellow from Kenya
“I believe there is a clear need to involve social scientists when conducting environmental research; sustainability projects should consider the communities’ values, beliefs and practices in order to combat poverty, improve their social organization and protect their resources.”Rosa Ana De Luca Global Sustainability Fellow from Mexico
“This year’s GSF session really helped me to see how The Lab’s approach is focused on long-term and systemic change. I’ve learned that sustainability cannot apply to any person, community, or nation, but can only apply to the planet as a whole.”Conor Meehan Global Sustainability Fellow from Ireland
Can Soldier Flies Solve the Pineapple Industry’s Waste Problem and Costa Rican Food Insecurity?
Professor Irene Alvarado of EARTH University, a member of The Lab’s Advisory Board and a Global Sustainability Fellows Faculty Member, has begun working with one of the largest pineapple farms in the area to resolve their organic waste problem and local food insecurity with the help of the soldier fly.
Teaching The Lab’s Sustainability Framework Using System Dynamics
Participants of The Lab’s Global Sustainability Fellows Program (GSF), who have since formed the consulting firm Loops, are developing an online education module which aims to demonstrate The Lab’s sustainability framework using the language of System Dynamics.