Here's a collection of frequently asked questions about ISSP.  Send your follow-on questions to


What is a sustainability professional?

We at ISSP recognize that sustainability is a broad and still evolving field with professionals migrating into our community of practice from numerous traditional disciplines. The interdisciplinary approach to teaching sustainability is still emerging in Higher Education, so at this stage most sustainability professionals do not necessarily come to the field with a fully-formed or integrated view of sustainability. Therefore, our members include individuals who have brought their existing expertise and applied it within a sustainability framework, as well as those who have been trained in sustainability concepts and principles from the outset. Our mission is to support the people who are working in any aspect of this field to help advance sustainability thinking in the context of their own job functions and professions.


Why a professional association for sustainability?

Most professions have their own professional association to facilitate the continued learning and development of the people working in that field. ISSP exists to do that, of course, with its educational, research and policy-oriented activities. In addition, because sustainability is still a new profession, ISSP also seeks to bring definition, credibility and attention to the field and to serve as “the voice” of sustainability professionals.

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What is ISSP’s definition of sustainability?

There are many good, workable definitions of sustainability, with the Brundtland definition being the most often quoted. ISSP does not have its own specific definition as it is understood that different definitions are useful in different contexts.  Howere ISSP does focus on the 'triple bottom line' sustainability, meaning that sustainable development requires interdisciplenary, systems thinking that includes economic, social, and environmental sustainability. At ISSP we focus on the “practice” of sustainability. Therefore, our emphasis is on the implementation of sustainable strategies and methodologies to assist communities, organizations and individuals to prosper while honoring the laws and limits of natural systems as well as the needs of community members to thrive.


How is ISSP organized and run?

ISSP is a 501(c )(3) incorporated in the state of Oregon in the USA. The organization has been run in its early stages by a management team of five people and guided by an international board of directors. The organization is currently transitioning to a management structure that will be led by ISSP’s officers, guided by the board of directors, and supported by an executive director and staff.

At present, ISSP organizes its staff and projects into four work streams:

  • Membership – which includes recruitment and retention, local chapter development, intra-membership networking
  • Education – ISSP offers a slate of on-line courses that can be taken individually or as part of a complete Body of Knowledge. In addition, ISSP presents webinars on timely topics each month.
  • Research – ISSP is dedicated to furthering the field and contributing to the knowledge base of its membership. Each year ISSP conducts at least one research study on topics of interest or import to our members. In addition, ISSP maintains a growing databank of professional materials (e.g. sample policies and plans, training materials, white papers, case studies and the like) which it makes available to its members at no charge.
  • Policy and Practice – ISSP seeks to advance both best practices and standards in the sustainability field in order to further the development of the profession itself.

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What does membership get me? What are the benefits?

Membership in ISSP provides many benefits including:

  • Access to a worldwide network of professional peers
  • Access to ISSP’s databank of professional resources
  • Free webinars
  • Discounts on ISSP courses, certification exams and study material, and conferences
  • Discounts on relevant publications and events around the world
  • Monthly e-journal
  • Events calendar here
  • Job postings here


Will I get a membership card or certificate when I join ISSP?

ISSP does not issue membership cards.  However, members do have an account on the ISSP website - click on Login in the upper right corner and use this email address as your user ID.  The first time you log in you will have to use the 'reset password' function and you will receive an email with a link to set up your password.

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What opportunities are there for me to get involved?

ISSP continues to develop opportunities for members to be involved in a variety of ways. Any ISSP member is invited to contribute materials to the databank of resources. ISSP also accepts articles for publication in its e-journal, which is our monthly e- newsletter. Members are eligible to receive free books in exchange for writing a book review to contribute to the web site. ISSP runs a vibrant LinkedIn group that is geared to our organization’s four work streams.

ISSP also launches temporary working committees for special projects like the conference and professional development activities like the Lexicon Project and our new effort towards professional certification. ISSP also supports the formation of local ISSP chapters in various communities around the world.


How do I connect to other members?

As a member of ISSP you have access to the roster of members. Our site enables you to search for other members by name, organization, location in the world and a variety of interest areas. These searches take you to the profile pages of members to facilitate your connection. To conduct a member search, log into your account, click on the “Resources” menu and then select member search. Our members also connect through the various work stream activities discussed above, as well as through the ISSP LinkedIn group. In addition we are working to launch local chapters around the world. Visit our Website to see if there is a chapter near you.

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How do I retrieve content on the ISSP website?

Retrieving information from the site is easy. Log into your member account and select the “resources” menu on the left. You will find a sub menu of different options (job postings, case studies). If you are looking for general information, select “Resource Library Search” and use the search box on the right side of the screen to enter terms of interest. You can further refine your search by clicking on specific node types; the recommended type is “resource.” 


Do you have local chapters?

In 2012, ISSP began testing the waters for interest in local chapters. We have discovered and been nurturing dozens of local and regional efforts since then. Many of these efforts have formalized into local chapters.

Read more about local chapter activities here.


How do I start a local chapter?

ISSP is trying to make it as easy as possible to form groups in local areas. If you are interested in leading a local or regional effort, in the US or in other countries, please contact ISSP Executive Director, Maureen Hart for more information. To view the webinar, The Buzz on Local Chapters recorded 12/5/13 click here.

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Does ISSP offer certification for sustainability professionals?

Yes, ISSP is developing the first globally recognized certification for sustainability professionals.  See the Certification section of our website for more details. 


Does ISSP offer a sustainability training certificate?

ISSP offers a “certificate program of study.” Upon completion of nine designated courses, ISSP issues a certificate of completion. This is not to be confused with “professional certification.” Currently such a recognized designation does not exist for this field. ISSP is leading the conversation in this area and is working to lead the effort toward the creation of a professional certification.


What kind of training or professional development does ISSP offer?

In addition to our regular, one-hour webinar presentations, ISSP offers a full slate of courses that can be taken individually or together as part of our professional certificate program. These courses are delivered primarily online over the course of a month’s time. They involve weekly live webinars with one or more of our internationally-known faculty members and then interim work on our learning center course pages. In order to earn credit toward the certificate of completion, each student must complete a project for each course as assigned by the instructor. For a full listing of education opportunities offered by ISSP, click here.

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Are there any face-to-face trainings?

ISSP’s trainings are primarily virtual to make them accessible to our international audience. We do, however, take the opportunity at our conferences to offer at least one of our certificate classes in a one-day, face-to-face format.


How often do conferences occur?

We have moved to a schedule of hosting a conference every 18 months. For information about our most recent conference, ISSP Conference 2014, click here. For information about our other past conferences, click here.


If you have questions about S-CORE(TM), ISSP new sustainability assessment tool, click here.

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