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Interconnectedness is at the heart of sustainability. To me, sustainability is the realization that environmental injustice is the same as social injustice; the understanding that through synergies, the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. 

More than ever, the Sustainability Leadership Center (SLC) is incorporating this important lesson into its mission to integrate sustainability into the student experience at PSU. The SLC provides Portland State students with unique opportunities to learn and lead. We accomplish these goals through the EcoReps, Sustainability Volunteer Program (SVP), and Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC).

Program enhancements in 2013-14:

SLC volunteer coordinator Val Holdahl and I are seeking to delve deeper into the campus’ resources and partnerships to recruit this year’s team of sustainability leaders.

I am working with the SLC’s cultural sustainability coordinator, Kevin Thomas, to build SLC programs that are representative of PSU’s valuable pool of multicultural perspectives and diversity. This work will foster greater collaboration with PSU’s Diversity and Multicultural Student Services and Office of International Affairs. I hope these connections will profoundly impact campus this winter when the EcoReps lead PSU in Campus Conservation Nationals—a national water and energy conservation challenge.

Val is working to build a stronger relationship with University Studies (UNST) through its Peer Mentoring program and general education curriculum. UNST offers opportunities for community-based learning where students get to apply their classroom experiences to community service in the real world. She also hopes to collaborate more with the numerous student programs and activities under the umbrella of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

Maintaining strong relationships and forming new ones is important; each department, each office, and each individual in the PSU community has something to contribute. We are all stronger when they do.

Applications are open!

If you are a student interested in applying, please visit:

If you are a staff member who would like to share SLC information through your office, or an instructor interested in having an SLC representative share information with interested students, please contact Amanda Tripp Johansson, SLC graduate assistant, at 503-725-5598 or


Lew Bivona is a graduate urban planning student and the EcoReps coordinator for the PSU Sustainability Leadership Center.