The Ohio State University (OSU) is one of the many universities committed to sustainability within its operations, traditions, and university framework. The university continues to evolve in relation to its sustainability goals, and currently seeks to both build on and deepen the culture of sustainability at OSU. One way to do this is through increasing the sustainability literacy of students on campus, by creating an introductory sustainability curriculum, which would put forth the definitions, concepts, and initiatives that represent sustainability at Ohio State. However, before such a curriculum can be developed, it is important to first understand the current sustainability perceptions at OSU: what definition does the university want to embrace? What is most pertinent to teach OSU students? Twenty sustainability leaders across the university were interviewed in a participatory development process to produce consensus-based, local definitional concepts that are not only beneficial for student knowledge, but for OSU sustainability progress as a whole. The results of their recommendations have provided a solid framework from which the university can build in its future curricular efforts, and provides insights that may be particularly helpful in promoting sustainability in other large American universities. This study also describes a case of using participatory development (PD) methods, which have been under-utilized in a higher education setting, particularly in sustainability implementation.
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