Partnering for Water

Water is an essential resource to our well-being with innumerable economic, social and environmental benefits. Urban waterways affect immense subsets of the population in the contiguous upstream and downstream communities by providing educational, social and recreational opportunities. They are at the centerpiece of many local businesses and often serve as drinking water sources. Unfortunately, urban waterways are also at a greater risk for pollution due to stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, and industrial sources.

At the recent Urban Waters National Training Workshop, CLiGS Senior Fellow Dr. Bruce Hull was recruited by Charlene Harper, an Executive Master of Natural Resource alumna, to moderate a panel discussion focused on the increased role of NGOs in the Urban Water Federal Partnership. This partnership program epitomizes the cross-sector collaboration needed to meet 21 Century challenges of sustainable development. The 14 federal agency partnership recently expanded to include more than two dozen conservation NGOs, with pilot projects in 18 watersheds around the country. The program hopes to reconnect people in underserved communities with their rivers, lakes, wetlands and other bodies of water, while also protecting these communities through watershed restoration projects. It boosts local economies, creates jobs, promotes environmental justice, and increases public access.

The panel used Collective Impact (CI) to examine the opportunities and challenges of contributing to these complex, multi-stakeholder collaborative efforts. Panelists included Lynn Scarlett, Managing Director of Policy at The Nature Conservancy, Gary Belan, Director of the Clean Water Program at American Rivers, Halle Vandergaag, Executive Director of Blue Water Baltimore, and Pauline Louie, with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Dr. Hull is also currently working on a report, in conjunction with Geosyntec’s Mark Hanna and Charlene Harper, that compiles results from a survey evaluating partner functionalities in twelve of the pilot Urban Water Federal Partnership projects, and the successes and challenges that have transpired in promoting CI in their urban waters programs.


Kate Fritz - Alumna of VA Tech Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR)

Alumna named Executive Director of the South River Federation

Kate Fritz, an alumna of Virginia Tech’s Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) inaugural cohort at the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS), was recently named Executive Director of the South River Federation, a nonprofit that serves to protect and preserve Maryland’s South River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. As a proponent of sustainability, this career move will allow Fritz to continue making an impact at the local level and in the larger watershed. (more…)

Virginia Tech Sustainability

How Leadership for Sustainability Drives Innovation in Large Organizations: The Case of Virginia Tech

“Universities have long served as a source of new knowledge and a testing ground for progressive change in society, including…free speech, racial integration, multiculturalism, and social tolerance. With regard to sustainability and climate change, universities are an appropriate source of new ideas and approaches to create sustainable campuses that serve as models for society and a source of cultural change.” (more…)

Dr. Bruce Hull - Fellow and Faculty at Virginia Tech's Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability

Senior Faculty Fellow for Sustainability Initiatives

Sustainability is a key theme that unifies the education, research, and engagement programs at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. Dean Paul Winistorfer recently appointed Professor Bruce Hull as the Senior Faculty Fellow for Sustainability Initiatives. Dean Winistorfer wants to further college-wide discussion about sustainability in a more organized and impactful manner, so he created the position to allow for more direct faculty engagement and leadership. (more…)

2014 XMNR International Residency

Every year, Executive Master of Natural Resource (XMNR) students, within the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS), participate in an International Residency (IR) to help broaden their understanding of global sustainability challenges and strategies being developed to address them. Thanks to these trips, the XMNR program, geared towards full-time working professionals, provides students with concrete international experience, dealing with real world sustainability issues. (more…)

Confucian temple ceiling

Architects Explore Sustainable Housing Development in China

This year the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS) continued to build upon its experience in China, expanding the reach of its China-related programs, by developing and leading a study tour for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the U.S.’s leading professional association for architects. The group of 19 professional architects, all members of AIA’s Housing Knowledge Community and representing a wide range of both private architecture practices and academic institutions, traveled to China’s Yunnan Province in May, (more…)