Communities of Practice

About NCSE’s Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are technical working groups open to individuals from NCSE Member Institutions that support and amplify education, research, and analysis from higher education institutions to advance the use of science in environmental policy- and decision-making across all levels of government. In addition, these groups advance capacity building and increase deeper engagement between NCSE Member Institutions and improve the focus, scale, and impact of NCSE initiatives. The CoPs serve as expert platforms to enable deeper collaboration, work, and research that will:

  • Explore and investigate a given field, discipline/program, or sector-specific challenge more deeply based on criteria that might include impact, urgency, risk, opportunity or innovation;

  • Engage leading science and policy experts to focus on the issue through collaboration;

  • Advance the use of science in policy- and decision-making; and

  • Identify opportunities where NCSE can fill a gap and have measurable impact (e.g., core competencies work on sustainability education, science policy communications trainings, policy briefs, etc.).

Interested in joining a Community of Practice? Please contact Kate Ceste

Structure and Participation

Each Community of Practice is led by two co-chairs. Individuals from all current NCSE Member Institutions are invited to participate in a CoP. Involvement in a CoP is intentionally fluid to allow for numerous participants from across NCSE Member Institutions and to accelerate growth, maintain dynamic work and discourse, and meet objectives to ensure success.

The CoPs determine work plans and outcomes for a 12-month period. Based on research and group discussions, outcomes might include new findings based on research; position statements/editorials on trends (e.g., sustainability education trend); policy recommendations; and tools/strategies for stronger, productive engagement between the scientific and policy sectors.


CoPs meet by conference call at least once every two months and in person at least once a year. For convenience, environmental, and cost savings, face-to-face meetings are planned in conjunction with other convenings (e.g., NCSE Annual Conference, Summer Member Meeting).

NCSE Communities of Practice

Sustainability Education Consensus Statement and Core Competencies

January 2018–Present


  • Identify the core sustainability competencies and student learning outcomes.


  • Peter Walker, Dean and Professor, Falk School of Sustainability, Chatham University

  • Rod Parnell, Professor, Northern Arizona University; NCSE Senior Fellow (2018–2019)

  • Katja Brundiers, Assistant Research Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University 

Energy Education

January 2018–Present


  • Advance university-based energy education research and promote the role of energy research and education in society.

  • Develop approaches and best practices to prepare the future workforce.


  • Tom Richard, Dean, Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Penn State University

  • Jennie Stephens, Associate Director, Global Resilience Institute, Northeastern University

UN Sustainable Development Goals and Higher Education

January 2018–April 2019


  • The SDGs Community of Practice undertook a thorough mapping exercise to determine the different networks working on SDGs in higher education in the United States.

  • The group is preparing a report on their findings that will be shared with NCSE Member Institutions. 


  • Diane Husic, Dean, School of Natural and Health Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences, Moravian College

  • Dork Sahagian, Professor, Lehigh University