Melissa Goodall, PhD, is a 2015 graduate of the PhD Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

James Jordan, Ph.D, Committee Chair
Rich Grogan, Ph.D, Committee Member
Maria Ivanova, Ph.D, Committee Member


Environmental Studies; Natural Resource Management; Political Science; Public Policy; Secondary Education; Sustainability

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This dissertation explores how partnerships between UN agencies and higher education institutions (HEIs) can enhance governance of the global commons. Unique attributes that HEIs have to offer in this regard include collaboration on development and dissemination of knowledge, the ability to design and test new technologies and systems, and the capacity to develop analytically rigorous research and evaluation. Many HEIs also explore issues across scales, sectors, and disciplines, and can act as neutral fora to promote dialogue. And all are educating future citizens and leaders. With the aim of highlighting the mutual value of partnerships between the UN and HEIs and also identifying where there are barriers and challenges in these relationships, I conducted two sets of research and analysis. First, using a set of criteria drawn from current literature on partnerships for sustainable development, I conducted a landscape review of UN websites to identify and assess what programs exist to engage HEIs. Second, I conducted semi-structured interviews with faculty members from three regionally diverse universities, each of whom has at least seven years of experience working with the UN, to gain their insights on the value of working with UN groups. My research demonstrates that UN agencies that engage universities meaningfully in developing solutions to sustainability challenges benefit from enhanced capacity, while HEIs stand to benefit from enhanced scholarship and recognition, access to resources, and the satisfaction of seeing theory translated into practice. It also demonstrates, however, that there is a need for clearer structures and robust programming.


Dr. Melissa Goodall [left] with her family.

Melissa Goodall is the Associate Director of the Yale Office of Sustainability. She is also an external advisor to the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Boston. With a background in global environmental policy, Melissa’s aim in her studies and her work with the Office is to illuminate causes and effects across various scales, sectors, and disciplines. She also seeks to help build networks and inform solutions to global challenges. Melissa has an MS in Resource Management and Administration from Antioch University New England a BFA in Acting from New York University. She has two amazing kids, an awesome dog, and she is married to the owner of Koffee, a sustainable coffeehouse in New Haven.

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