The field of sustainability is undergoing a massive expansion. Unprecedented societal and environmental challenges, growing aspirations of young professionals to make a difference, and a rapidly growing labor market demand more effective sustainability training. There is a concomitant need for the consolidation of intellectual foundations for the field as it develops to serve the goal of sustainability transformations.

The response of higher education institutions and schools of environment and sustainability has, however, been partial at best. Colleges and universities have put in place sustainability courses, certificates, minors, degree programs, institutes, and schools. But much of this development is guided by limited and patchy exchanges across higher education institutions and a historical understanding of sustainability rooted in distinct disciplinary traditions.

A critical challenge for our field is to maintain rigor and build consensus on the key principles, competencies, capacities, frameworks, and substance of sustainability as a scholarly realm and as a rapidly expanding field of practice across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. It is critically important to advance the knowledge necessary to address the challenges of transformation, integration, and justice; effectively match graduates with labor market opportunities; and develop a pipeline that rapidly expands the sustainability workforce. 

To meet the need, a federation of US colleges and universities working with private, public, and non-profit sector organizations, launched a National Sustainability Society (NSS) as a forum to: