Supporting Employees in Enacting Sustainable Change: Research from Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability and Temple University

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Supporting Employees in Enacting Sustainable Change: Research from Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability and Temple University

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READ: Research by @erbinstitute faculty @SoderstromSara offers insights into how employees can achieve #sustainable change -- and how employers can help http://myumi.ch/JDq5q @EDFbiz @NBSnet @Umich
Friday, March 9, 2018 - 12:00pm

Think interns aren’t like other types of employees? Think again. Since 2008, 840 graduate students have spent a summer working on corporate environmental and sustainability projects as fellows in the EDF Climate Corps program run by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an American NGO.

They’ve worked on everything from energy efficiency to sustainability strategy. Fellows have served in over 400 public and private organizations, including one third of Fortune 100 companies. Some fellows are in business school; others, in engineering, environmental science, and even policy programs. EDF Climate Corps is a competitive program, with only roughly 10% of applicants accepted.

Researcher Sara Soderstrom (University of Michigan) and Todd Schifeling (Temple University) are studying EDF Climate Corps fellows for lessons about how to achieve change. The fellows’ experiences have implications for long-term employees as well, Soderstrom says.

A summer doesn’t seem long enough “to see difficulties or push back,” says Soderstrom. “But with the students, we saw replicated everything we see in full-time jobs. Difficulty navigating the organization, questions around what is sustainability. I had thought, ‘We’re not going to see anyone who says they’re burnt out or doesn’t know what to do.’ Those feelings were all over the place.

Soderstrom and Schifeling surveyed the 125 fellows in the 2016 EDF Climate Corps cohort at the beginning, middle, and end of their experience, and examined their project scopes and eventual outcomes.” They also interviewed fellows and EDF staff, including Ellen Shenette, EDF Climate Corps manager.

Here, Soderstrom and Shenette offer insights into how individuals can achieve change — and how organizations can help them. Mentoring, technical expertise, and peer support provided by EDF help fellows achieve their goals; companies could provide similar support for their employees.

Three Strategies for Change

Click here to read the Three Strategies for Change

Keywords: Research, Reports & Publications | EDF Climate Corps | Ellen Shenette | Employee Engagement | Environmental Defense Fund | Erb Institute | Human Resources | Internships | Maya Fischoff | Network for Business Sustainability | Sara Soderstrom