Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Matthew Mingus

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Scriven

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Palthe


Sustainability permeates many levels of human activity. Interest in sustainability is grounded primarily in the sustainable development field which is concerned with the survival of humans on planet earth, and with the growing demands of meeting people's long-term needs. In the North American evaluation literature, however, sustainability is primarily thought of in terms of continuing program activity beyond initial funding cycles via diversification of funding streams or institutionalization.

Two distinct perspectives for evaluating sustainability were identified. The first is concerned with micro-level issues related to the continuation of programs, policies, and other types of human action. The second is a macro level perspective concerned with sustaining human, social, and economic development under consideration of protecting the environment. Because both concepts are interdependent, it is argued that sustainability evaluation should incorporate the continuation of human activity and the maintenance of means for mankind to exist on earth.

A new evaluation tool, the "Sustainability Evaluation Checklist" (SEC), is introduced to bridge the gap between both perspectives. The tool is divided into two parts. The first elaborates on general considerations in evaluation, while the second emphasizes sustainability concerns specifically. The SEC's accuracy and usefulness was assessed by experts and practitioners who provided critical reactions to the draft checklist's accuracy, its potential, and usefulness for evaluating sustainability.

The dissertation is divided into six chapters. In Chapter I, an overview of the dissertation is presented and the topic is introduced to the reader. In Chapter II, the key literature is summarized. In Chapter III, rationales for checklist development are discussed and the SEC is introduced. The methodology for evaluating the SEC using a nonexperimental, exploratory, primarily qualitative, cross-sectional study design is elaborated in Chapter IV. Findings from the study are presented in Chapter V with specific attention to a multi-scale item analysis and qualitative cross-case, cross-item, and cross-section analyses that illuminate the strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for improving the SEC. The final chapter discusses revisions made to the SEC, limitations of the dissertation and corresponding implications for future work, and contributions of this dissertation.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access