Sustainability Q&A: Dr. Chris Stevens
What is your position and department?
I am currently an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and the Director of MBA Programs in the School of Business Administration.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability is leaving something better than you found it — environmentally, culturally, intellectually, etc. I think we spend too much time thinking of sustainability as an environmental concept, but I think it is much bigger than that.
How have you been involved in promoting sustainability on campus?
I teach Gonzaga’s social entrepreneurship course — a course I created when I came to campus in 2008. In that course, we focus on a variety of social ventures that further the development and sustainability of cultural systems, environmental system, mechanisms to promote and further social justice, and to grow and sustain communities. Many of these themes bleed over into my other courses — most notably my entrepreneurship and strategy courses. In my eight years at Gonzaga, I have served on a number of task forces, boards, and committees tasked with promoting issues of social justice, developing sustainable and equitable systems of policies on campus, and promoting the development of new ideas among our student population. In all my work with students, I have emphasized that the quest for sustainability is ultimately a question of social justice — the resources, opportunities, and experiences that we have are not our own, but belong to everyone. A sustainable system, whether it is focused on environment, equal rights, education, health, or something else is ultimately a just system.
What are some things you do in your personal life to live sustainably?
I’m married to a native of the PNW, so we recycle like mad. We have spent the last eight years making our home more sustainable and lowering our energy consumption. My wife and I are actively involved in a variety of regional nonprofits that focus on parks, environment, employment of individuals with disabilities, and service. From our perspective, building a sustainable community involves engaging with all facets of what makes Spokane and the INW a lasting and vibrant community for our children and their children.
How could Gonzaga continue to improve its sustainability efforts?
Focus on a holistic definition of sustainability and recognize the potential we have to educate our hometown about the role of sustainable systems — economic, environmental, human rights, education, health care, and social service. Gonzaga is uniquely positioned to help the people of Spokane and the Inland Northwest realize their sustainable potential. When focusing on promoting sustainability, many college communities look immediately within, and then cast out to the rest of the world. While this is helpful, I think we often neglect or ignore the communities immediately around us, at our peril.
How will you continue to promote sustainability at Gonzaga?
I don’t plan to leave Gonzaga for quite some time, but I hope that when I do, I hope to continue to participate in the effort to make Spokane a more vibrant, sustainable, and dynamic community.