The idea for a Center for Regional Sustainability (CRS) began in 2005, as a group of SDSU faculty and staff started a “green lunch bag group” where like-minded individuals met once a month to discuss sustainability and environmental issues. This newfound community led to a conversation among SDSU deans about the need for a center that could create opportunities for sustainability-related research, education and stewardship in the SDSU community and the greater San Diego-Tijuana region. Former Deans Tom Scott, Stanley Maloy and Geoff Chase believed that with SDSU’s community ties and capabilities, the center could serve as the ideal conduit to use the university’s resources to identify, define and address the region’s issues head on.
In June 2009, the Center for Regional Sustainability was launched with Geoff Chase, former dean of Undergraduate Studies, as its director. During its first year, the Center positioned itself as a thought leader in sustainability, joining the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), cultivating relationships with local environmental advocacy organizations and sponsoring guest speakers to visit campus and discuss best practices in water conservation, food waste and social justice. In those early years, its most notable achievement was the creation of the Sage Project in 2013, which establishes partnerships with local communities that give SDSU students access to dozens of real-world projects each year.
The Center for Regional Sustainability also helped launch BrightSide Produce San Diego (in 2017) and the Social and Economic Vulnerabilities Initiative (in 2018). And in 2020, CRS joined the Community Climate Action Network (CCAN), an SDSU Big Idea.
By design, CRS aims to help to move SDSU toward the “Fifth Wave” institutional goal toward a culture that is “...increasingly transdisciplinary, collaborative, and problem-driven..." (Crow, 2020:307), by addressing global challenges at a local level, through collaborations across campus and with partners from business, government, nonprofits, and education. Through all of our programs and initiatives, CRS aims to expand its programming to continue to make an impact on students, faculty, staff and the greater community at large.