David Hart

Research Interests

  • Mobilizing higher education’s capacity for problem-solving
  • Solutions-focused sustainability science
  • University – stakeholder partnerships
  • Issue-driven interdisciplinarity


  • University of California, Davis, Ph.D. (Ecology)
  • University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A. (Biology)

Mitchell Center Projects


Ever since he became embroiled at the age of 17 in a controversial proposal regarding the environmental and economic future of a coastal California watershed, David Hart has been searching for ways to increase the value of science in society. Along the way, he has conducted a wide range of environmental research; served as a science advisor to government, the private sector, and NGOs; and developed innovative programs to address pressing challenges at the intersection of environmental, social, and economic issues (i.e. sustainability challenges).

For more than a decade, David and his colleagues have been growing the capacity of universities to conduct stakeholder-engaged, interdisciplinary research, which led to the creation of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions. More than 200 faculty and 600 students from 17 universities representing the natural and social sciences, engineering, design, and the humanities have participated in this solutions-driven research (e.g. 50+ projects focused on water resources, forestry, agriculture, coastal fisheries, municipal planning, renewable energy, materials management, community and economic development). Research support has come from many sources, including more than $32 million in grants from the National Science Foundation.

Selected Publications

Hart, David D., and Linda Silka. “Rebuilding the Ivory Tower: A Bottom-Up Experiment in Aligning Research With Societal Needs.” Issues in Science and Technology 36, no. 3 (Spring 2020): 64–70.

Gordon, I.J., Bawa, K., Bammer, G., Boone, C., Dunne, J., Hart, D., ….& Pickett, S., 2019. Forging future organizational leaders for sustainability science. Nature Sustainability, 2(8), pp. 647-649.

Bieluch, K.H., McGreavy, B., Silka, L., Strong, A. and Hart, D. 2019. Empowering Sustainability Leaders: Variations on a Learning-by-doing Theme. In Developing Change Agents: Innovative Practices for Sustainability Leadership, Kremers, K, Liepins, A, & York, A.  (eds), University of Minnesota Libraries.  EBook:  https://open.lib.umn.edu/changeagents/

Roy, S.G., de Souza, S.P., McGreavy, B., Druschke, C.G., Hart, D.D. and Gardner, K., 2019. Evaluating core competencies and learning outcomes for training the next generation of sustainability researchers. Sustainability Science, pp.1-13.

Silka, L., McGreavy, B., & Hart, D. 2019. Health, the Environment, and Sustainability: Emergent Communication Lessons across Highly Diverse Public Participation Activities. In Breaking Boundaries: Innovative Practices in Environmental Communication and Public Participation, Hunt, K., Walker, G., & Depoe, S. (eds) SUNY Press.

Roy, S. G., Uchida, E., de Souza, S. P., Blachly, B., Fox, E., Gardner, K., Gold, A., Jansujwicz, J., Klein, S., McGreavy, B., Mo, W., Smith, S., Vogler, E., Wilson, K., Zydlewski, J., & Hart, D. 2018. A multiscale approach to balance trade-offs among dam infrastructure, river restoration, and cost. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(47), 12069-12074.

Hart, D., 2018. Teamwork Is the New Leadership. Maine Policy Review, 27(1), pp.30-33.

Bednarek, A.T., Wyborn, C., Cvitanovic, C., Meyer, R., Colvin, R.M., Addison, P.F.E., Close, S.L., Curran, K., Farooque, M., Goldman, E., Hart, D….& Leith, P. 2018. Boundary spanning at the science–policy interface: The practitioners’ perspectives. Sustainability Science, 13(4), pp.1175-1183.

McGreavy, B. and Hart, D., 2017. Sustainability science and climate change communication. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science.

Hart, D.D., Buizer, J.L., Foley, J.A., Gilbert, L.E., Graumlich, L.J., Kapuscinski, A.R., Kramer, J.G., Palmer, M.A., Peart, D.R., & Silka, L. 2016. Mobilizing the power of higher education to tackle the grand challenge of sustainability: Lessons from novel initiatives. Elementa, Science of the Anthropocene, 4.

Thomson, J. R., Fonseca, D. M., Finelli, C. M., Farouk, B., & Hart, D. D. (2016). Scale‐dependent relationships between suspension‐feeding stream insects and water velocity in spatially heterogeneous flow environments. Freshwater biology, 61(1), 133-145.

Hart, D., Bell, K.P., Lindenfeld, L., Jain, S., Johnson, T., Ranco, D. and McGill, B., 2015. Strengthening the role of universities in addressing sustainability challenges: the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions as an institutional experiment. Ecology and Society, 20(2):4.