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The six dimensions of collective leadership that advance sustainability objectives: rethinking what it means to be an academic leader

Jill Caviglia-Harris, Economics and Finance Department, Environmental Studies Department, Salisbury University
Karen E. Hodges, Department of Biology, University of British Columbia Okanagan
Brian Helmuth, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences and School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University
Elena M. Bennett, Department of Natural Resource Sciences and Bieler School of Environment, McGill University
Kathleen Galvin, Department of Anthropology and Geography, Colorado State University
Margaret Krebs, Earth Leadership Program; Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
Karen Lips, Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park
Meg Lowman, TREE Foundation; National Geographic Explorer
Lisa A. Schulte, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management and Bioeconomy Institute, Iowa State University
Edward A. G. Schuur, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society and Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University


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Solutions to our most pressing environmental problems demand the development and application of leadership skills that are not typically fostered in traditional academic programs: skills that advance new transdisciplinary approaches to co-produce knowledge that can be mobilized for action. We outline a new collective leadership model with six dimensions, Inquire, Connect, Engage, Strategize, Empower, and Reflect, and show through a series of case studies how each of these leadership dimensions can be used to create positive and lasting change for people and their environments. We also describe how academic researchers can learn to apply these dimensions in their own work and introduce a series of companion online narratives and teaching resources designed to facilitate the use of this collective leadership model in classrooms.

Key words

collective leadership; knowledge to action; sustainability; transdisciplinary leadership

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087