The Purpose of the Center for Rural Sustainable Development

Vision and Mission

The CRSD envisions a region of resilient, durable and prosperous communities in Northeastern Maine and beyond. The Center's mission is to guide sustainability efforts by providing academic resources and quality information for improving lives and livelihoods and safeguarding cultural and natural heritage for the future.


To foster regional sustainable development, citizens must be empowered with high quality information and well developed technical capabilities. It is, therefore, necessary for the center to:

  1. Gather and generate knowledge for a deep understanding of the issues so that quality information may be shared;
  2. Educate stakeholders on issues of concern so that well-informed decisions may be made;
  3. Train a technically competent citizenry to conduct the business of sustainability.

What is sustainable development?

Sustainable development or more simply sustainability is a societal condition wherein people live quality lives, meeting their needs in ways that permit other people to do the same now and into the distant future. Sustainable communities are nurturing places where people prosper and cultures thrive; they maintain capital stocks including environmental services; they are characterized by a diversity of ideas, economic activities, and landscapes; and they seek social justice and equity, while maintaining freedom and opportunities for citizens.

The sustainability path involves the merging of the historically distinct and often conflicting goals of development and conservation, which requires that societies work to:

  • create opportunities where people may realize their full potentials, find productive livelihoods, and prosper;
  • protect and enhance human health and encourage wellness;
  • restore and preserve nature's life-support systems and evolutionary potential;
  • extract benefits from natural capital without diminishing stocks for future generations;
  • achieve social justice;
  • design livable, resilient and secure communities.

The path to sustainability occurs through the process of establishing appropriate institutions, policies, strategies, and technologies in a just transition that moves society toward the proper state. Democracy is often viewed similarly, as a process of continuous improvement.

Sustainability is also the emerging science that seeks to understand the issues at the interface between society and nature and to find solutions to the associated problems so that people may thrive everywhere today and into the distant future. Sustainability science employs multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary thinking in addressing the complex interactions between natural and social systems. See the following for more information on sustainability science:

For a broad look at peer-reviewed sustainability research see the following online journals:

Current Work of the Center for Rural Sustainable Development

  • Regional renewable energy planning
  • Regional tourism and recreation opportunities
  • Campus Greening
    • Climate Action Plan
    • Greenhouse gas emissions inventory
    • Comprehensive sustainability campus plan
    • LEED certified building initiative
      • UMFK's Powell Hall was renovated in 2010 and is under review for LEED certification.
    • Energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy at UMFK.
      • The campus has developed plans to install two biomass boilers that would replace 8 oil-fired boilers and displace approximately 90% of the schools' fuel oil consumption. Funds for the projects are currently being sought.