R.I.S.E. Lab


At the Wayne State University Department of Communication, I work with a number of graduate students and colleagues, collaborating on projects that examine the communicative implications of “Resilient Institutions & Sustainable Environments” (R.I.S.E.).

Broadly speaking, these projects study how communicative practices enable resilience and sustainability in a variety of organizations, ranging from for-profit companies to nonprofits, religious organizations to purpose-driven consultancies, government agencies to institutions of higher education. We research how the social, environmental, economic, and cultural dimensions of sustainability intersect in both old and new ways, shaping policy at the macro-level and interpersonal sense-making at the micro-level.

Examples of ongoing R.I.S.E. Lab projects include:

Environmental Resource Management in the Arctic

This project draws from fieldwork in four sites in the U.S. Arctic to examine how organizations engage in environmental resource management (ERM) on the ground, despite vague or conflicting policy conflicts. The study takes a diverse view on the impact of ERM, considering climate change adaptation measures and sustainability practices that influence community conceptions of work/career in the Arctic, organizational action, and government policymaking.

Implementing Sustainability in Higher Ed

This project continues my ongoing work adopting a “practice-based” approach to sustainability, which probes the meaning-making around resilient systems and environmental sustainability by practitioners actually engaged in the work (not just strategists). This student-driven study is Part II of a series that examines how institutions of higher education drive sustainability agendas, given their highly influential role vis-a-vis students, community members, and faculty/staff.

Entrepreneurship Hubs Developing Urban Sustainability

The latest project at the R.I.S.E. Lab examines how entrepreneurship development hubs in “legacy cities” help build social entrepreneurs, reach out to community stakeholders, and form innovation clusters. While many such cities have been dismissed as being out-of-touch with 21st century organizing, we research how entrepreneurship hubs pursue a new model of socially conscious, ecologically sustainable, and economically resilient development. Detroit is our natural laboratory for this project!

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