New sustainability leader coming to PSU

Robert Costanza was named as the director of the Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices and will assume his new position at Portland State this fall.

Robert Costanza was named as the director of the Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices and will assume his new position at Portland State this fall.

Established in 2006, CSP2 administers the $25 million James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation grant, according to the center’s website. Professor John Gordon, who has acted as interim director, said he is excited to work with Costanza.

“[Costanza is] widely known as a leading scholar in ecological economics,” Gordon said.

Costanza is currently the director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. He holds a doctorate in systems ecology from the University of Florida, and was previously the director for the University of Maryland Institute for Ecological Economics.

“I’m very excited to come to PSU. I view it as an opportunity to change higher education and address sustainable practices for the better,” Costanza said. “This will give us a venue for ongoing discussion of solutions. There’s been a lot of ink on sustainability problems, but not a lot on solutions.”

Costanza is also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Solutions, a nonprofit publication focusing on environmental, social and political issues, according to its website. He said the editorial office will be moving to Portland and that it “has a lot of direct connections to the sustainability agenda at the center.”

“I’ve had a lot of experience with living laboratories [and] have contacts around the world that could help enhance that concept at PSU,” he said.

Gordon said that Costanza’s leadership of CSP2 “has the potential to transform PSU to the next level of excellence in sustainability research, teaching and outreach,” and that the Miller grant and the center’s location “in the ‘living laboratory’ that Portland and its environs provide are an additional and important reason to expect great progress.”

Costanza has also served as president of the International Society for Ecological Economics and was an editor of its journal, Ecological Economics. Costanza said he will likely remain a fellow with the Gund Institute while leading CSP2, in addition to his fellowships with the Stockholm Resilience Center and the National Council on Science and the Environment.

“Attracting a person of Bob’s stature signals that the approach we have taken is a good one,” said Provost Roy Koch in a press release. “We look forward to him joining us in the fall.”

The search for a permanent director of CSP2 yielded dozens of candidates nationwide, according to CSP2 fellow David Ervin, who is also an economics and environmental management professor.

Ervin said Costanza’s interdisciplinary approach to issues will benefit PSU and will “fit in well with Provost Koch and President [Wim] Wiewel.”

“I think he will be a tremendous asset and I’m really excited about him coming here,” Ervin said, “I think he’ll be able to attract national and international students and faculty…he’s the kind of person who will embrace Portland culture [and] the PSU motto to let knowledge serve the city.”