The Overlooked Pillar

Making a Case for Cultural Sustainability

By Alisa V. Moldavanova

Subjects: Public Policy, Cultural Studies, Business Administration, Management, Urban Studies
Hardcover : 9781438498942, 302 pages, August 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-08-01

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Table of contents

Stefan Toepler



1. Introduction: The Overlooked Pillar

2. Museums: Safeguarding the Interests of Future Generations

3. Literature and Its Institutions: The Moral Language between Generations

4. The Boundaries of Art and Society: Sustainability Lessons from the Performing Arts

5. Sustainable Thinking: Lessons from the Arts and Humanities

Appendix A: Recession Induced Pressures and Common Organizational Responses

Appendix B: Institutional Factors of Resilience

Appendix C: List of Organizations: Data Collection I & II


Elevates in systematic ways the importance of organizational thinking about sustainability and emphasizes the importance of cultural organizations in facilitating societal sustainability goals.


Offering an original perspective on the sustainable-development discourse by emphasizing the importance of culture and cultural institutions in facilitating societal sustainability goals, The Overlooked Pillar conceptualizes sustainability as an institutional logic that develops in organizations and is enacted by managers of such organizations who make decisions and engage in sustainable thinking on a daily basis, leading them to reconcile current organizational realities and the need to adapt to those realities with considerations of the needs of future generations. Drawing on more than five years of research conducted on a variety of organizations within the domain of the arts and humanities, Alisa V. Moldavanova provides a framework for organizational sustainability based on the dynamic interplay of two narratives—institutional resilience and institutional distinctiveness—and identifies mechanisms and strategies adopted by managers of cultural organizations that maintain and enhance intergenerational sustainability. The broader intellectual implication of the insights offered here encompasses the critical notion that genuine long-term sustainability, the kind that secures the rights of future generations, requires sustainable stewardship today.

Alisa V. Moldavanova is Associate Professor at the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware. She is the coeditor (with David H. Smith and Svitlana Krasynska) of The Nonprofit Sector in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia: Civil Society Advances and Challenges.


"The Overlooked Pillar is an attempt to synthesize and conceptualize the intersection between culture and sustainability. In contrast to other treatments of this topic, which tend to be case-focused, approaching this intersection in ways that are unsystematic, Moldavanova addresses this issue more systematically, taking into account not only different types of organizations, but also different sectors. This makes The Overlooked Pillar stand apart." — Jonathan Paquette, author of Museum-Making in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia: Cultural Institutions and Policies from Colonial to Post-Colonial Times