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)


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 research on a wide range of ecological topics; 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 the last 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 150 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. 40+ projects focused on water resources, forestry, agriculture, coastal fisheries, municipal planning, renewable energy and materials management). Research support has come from many sources, including > $32 million in grants from the National Science Foundation).

Previously, David was the Director of the Patrick Center for Environmental Research at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He also taught and conducted research at the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, and the University of California at Davis. His awards include a Ruth Patrick Scholarship, Leopold Leadership Fellowship, Fulbright Senior Scholarship, and the Governor’s Award for Watershed Stewardship in Pennsylvania (accepted on behalf of the Patrick Center).

Selected Publications

Silka, L., McGreavy, B., & Hart, D. Health, the Environment, and Sustainability: Emergent Communication Lessons across Highly Diverse Public Participation Activities. Lead chapter to appear in Hunt, K. P., Walker, G., & Depoe, S. Expanding the Boundaries of Communication and Public Participation in Environmental Decision Making.

McGreavy, Bridie & Hart, David. (2017). Sustainability Science and Climate Change Communication. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.563.

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.

Hart, D. D., K. P. Bell, L. A. Lindenfeld, S. Jain, T. R. Johnson, D. Ranco, and B. McGill. 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. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07283-200204

Hart and Bell 2013. Sustainability Science: A Call to Collaborative Action. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 42(1): 75-89.

Whitmer, L. Ogden, J. Lawton, P. Sturner, P.M. Groffman, L. Schenider, D. Hart, B. Halpern, W. Schlesinger, S. Raciti, N. Bettez, S. Ortega, L. Rustad, S.T.A. Pickett, and M. Killelea, “The Engaged University: Providing a Platform for Research that Transforms Society,” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6 (2010): 314-321.

D.D. Hart and A.J.K. Calhoun, “Rethinking the Role of Ecological Research in the Sustainable Management of Freshwater Ecosystems,” Freshwater Biology 55 (2010): 258-269.