Adjunct Faculty

Daniella Russo
McCone Building
(831) 647-4155

Daniella Dimitrova Russo is the CEO and Founder of Think Beyond Plastictm, an innovation accelerator with focus on plastic pollution. Daniella Russo believes that intractable global challenges can be addressed by harnessing the forces of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the power of the markets to do good. Since 2009, she has led the development of an innovation eco-system to reduce the impact of plastic pollution on the environment and public health, with special focus on ocean plastic. Daniella Russo is a serial entrepreneur: Her experience includes executive management of businesses from start-up phase through an IPO, as well as within Fortune-500 companies such as Frame Technology, Infoseek, Sun Microsystems, and Xerox PARC. Daniella Russo is a member of the Founders Board of Advisors at StartX Standford Student Startup Accelerator: She is an Adjunct Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies Graduate Program in International Policy and Management. Daniella Russo co-founded and led Plastic Pollution Coalition to become world’s largest NGO dedicated uniquely to ending plastic pollution. She serves on the Board of numerous NGOs and Businesses.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

Beyond Plastic: Growing Innovation Eco-System

Plastic pollution is an economic, environmental, human health and aesthetic problem posing a multi-dimensional challenge to humanity, often compared to climate change in terms of impact, breadth and complexity. Plastic material offers multiple benefits to consumers and manufacturers and for the most part, is without viable alternatives. Consumption has grown 20X times since the sixties (1.5MT in 1964 to 311MT in 2014), and industry projects that rate to triple by 2050. The negative externalities associated with this growth are staggering – plastic production will reach almost 20% of the global oil production; it will use 15% of the global carbon budget and will likely surpass the airline industry’s use of petroleum.

A problem of this magnitude cannot be solved with a single linear policy or technological innovation. It needs a cohesive innovation eco-system supporting a shift away from conventional fossil fuel plastics towards bio-based, bio-benign materials from renewable sources; new packaging design; new manufacturing processes; and innovative consumer and business products leveraging these new materials.

The eco-system incorporates innovators, investors, public policy and civil society and is an essential enabler of the transition towards the new plastics economy of circular materials and circular design.

Students will learn:

- how to evaluate an environmental challenge through the lens of innovation;

- how to develop a complete understanding of the interdependencies of the elements of the eco-system;

- how to create and build out the strategic relations between the eco-system components; and

- observe how such an eco-system thrives in a practical implementation with focus on the New Plastics Economy.

Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop, Spring 2020 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

  • Marine plastics and pollution
  • Entrepreneurship for waste management solutions