The Sustainability Innovation Award

ISSST has always been very generous in its recognition of graduate students working in sustainable technology systems research.  The Best Paper and Best Poster awards not only add to a students’ credibility and visibility, but they carry cash prizes.

However, there are far fewer opportunities for sustainability-minded Assistant Professors, Junior Lecturers, or early career professionals working in industry to gain similar recognition.  Therefore, ISSST2013 will launch the first annual  ‘Sustainability Innovation’ award.

The purpose of the award is to create a unique opportunity to recognize researchers, entrepreneurs, or inventors at the early stages of their business or product development.  I don’t have in mind strict criteria, except that it should be clear that tenured faculty are ineligible.  We’re looking for people (of any age) that are at the beginning of an upward career arc.  For example, we might recognize a person in business who recently left their corporate job to start a new knowledge or innovation-based business (like Lise Lauren did with Earthshift).  Or we might find recognize someone who is still working at a corporation, but has recently launched a new venture (e.g., an intrapraneur).

The recipient should be working in a sustainability-related knowledge area.  That is, they should be creating new knowledge.  That doesn’t necessarily mean publishing (but it probably does), and it doesn’t necessarily mean that their research is heavily sponsored.

What I want to do is use the platform of ISST2013 to boost the careers of the most talented and worthy people at a time during their careers when they are most likely to benefit.

To make this work, I’ll need volunteers to do several things:

  • Think of a better name for this award.  “Outstanding Sustainability Researcher” is kind of lame.
  • Formalize selection criteria that are broad, and flexible, but easily translate into qualities that we admire in the sustainability knowledge community.
  • Elicit nominations.
  • Select recipients.
  • Recruit sponsors to underwrite a modest cash prize.

I don’t intend to do this myself.  Assistant Professors are not eligible to volunteer to perform any of these tasks, although they provide a talented pool of potential nominees from which to draw.  Nonetheless, I think we have a host of people in the ISSST community who are well-qualified and will instantly recognize this as a worthwhile application of their time.

Email me, or post here, if you’re willing to serve on this committee.  I particularly need a Chair.

We’ll announce our first recipient at ISST2013!

3 thoughts on “The Sustainability Innovation Award

  1. Joseph Sarkis

    Wonderful idea. Aspen Institute used to give a “Young Pioneers” award for business and sustainability topics. I think the Aspen Institute is stopping rankings and awards, but not sure.

    Based on your goals, I’m thinking something like a “Young Green Innovator” award as a possible name.

    What would be cool is to have multiple organizations be involved in the selection and recommendations. For example, the Greening of Industry Network (GIN) and the Organizations and Natural Environment (ONE) group from the Academy of Management.

    1. Thomas P Seager Post author

      Yes! That’s the idea.

      I’d like a cross-section of communities on the award committee — different disciplines and different segments of society.

      I like the idea of “Innovator” in the title, but I don’t know that we’re necessarily looking for “Young” (we’re all young at heart, I suppose). In my view, we should be able to recognize people that are starting new careers or new initiatives, no matter what age.

  2. Pingback: New People and New Ideas | ISSST2013 - Sustainable Systems & Technologies

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