1. Please check and comment entries here.
Table of Contents

    Topic review

    Sustainability Development in Educational Institutions

    Subjects: Others
    View times: 6
    Submitted by: Amila Omazic

    Definition

    Sustainable development (SD) addresses the biggest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. Public sector organizations, primarily higher education institutions (HEIs), are facing greater levels of responsibility since adopting and committing to the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (SD) and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). HEIs are expected to provide guidance for various stakeholders on this matter, but also to implement this agenda and the SDGs in their institutions.

    1. Introduction

    The crucial role that higher education institutions (HEIs) and education play in contributing to sustainability and SD was formally and internationally recognized in 1972 at the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm [1][2][3][4][5]. Since then, a significant number of HEI declarations, charters, and partnerships have been developed and designed to foster environmental education (EE), SD, and education for sustainable development (ESD) Again, a number of HEIs joined alliances and signed commitments and declarations to integrate sustainability and SD in all aspects of their organizations [1][3][5][6][7]. In spite of a number of SD initiatives and an increasing number of HEIs becoming engaged with SD [3][5][6], HEIs were still lagging with regard to their contributions to sustainability and SD [3][8].

    In September 2000, the Millennium Declaration was signed by the United Nations, which included eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were subsequently included in various stages of education [9]. After the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in 2002 in Johannesburg and during the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development ((UN DESD, 2005), which aimed to integrate the principles of SD into all aspects of HEIs [4][10], the engagement of HEIs in sustainability and SD challenges worldwide increased [11]. The relevance of HEIs for SD was reaffirmed at the United Nations’ Rio + 20 conference held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, which resulted in a political outcome document and the continuous implementation of the United Nations Global Action Programme on ESD [6].

    2. Current Insights

    Sustainability and SD in HEIs is steadily increasing. The challenges that sustainability and SD address [1], as well as HEIs’ significant role regarding these challenges, are globally recognized [1][2][3][6][11][7][8][9][13]. However, taking into account the regional context, this literature review shows that most articles targeted HEIs in North America (USA and Canada), South America (Brazil), Asia-Pacific (Australia and China), Europe (Germany, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Belgium), and South Africa.
    Previous literature recognized the positive influence of internal and external HEI stakeholders on their progress towards SD [1][3][11][8], yet, in this entry, a lack of consensus on whether and how these stakeholders support the effective integration of SD in HEIs was identified [15][16][17][18].
    This entry suggested that the field of sustainability and SD in HEIs can be categorized according to the seven elements of an HEI system identified in the available literature [3][5], i.e., institutional framework, campus operations, education, research, outreach and collaboration, SD through on-campus experiences, and assessment and reporting. The results of the final sample analysis show that the institutional framework, research, and assessment and reporting in the context of sustainability and SD in HEIs were the most heavily investigated categories during the study period, although education and research are commonly referred to as core areas and fields of action in HEIs [1][2][3][6][7][8][9][13][19].
    In the category “institutional framework,” the articles mostly addressed organizational change to support sustainability and SD in HEIs, as well as how to apply and integrate them. The authors of these papers suggested that more in-depth investigations, empirical studies, and assessments of sustainability drivers and barriers and frameworks focusing on aspects of change are needed [20][21][22][23]. They also indicated that the stakeholders’ perceptions of each barrier require further study to derive the impacts of those perceptions and to identify and test ways to overcome barriers [20][24][25]. Future research involving a variety of stakeholders and analyses of HEI plans, policies, and strategies was proposed to gain deeper insights into sustainability implementation, best practices, and recommendations [5][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33].
    Communication of sustainability efforts was identified as a key to the effective management of SD implementation in HEIs [34], and SD policies were recognized as valuable tools for this communication [35]. However, a gap regarding SD policies and the aspects they address was identified. The aspects addressed in these policies were not equally emphasized, most addressed was campus sustainability, and research and education were mostly neglected [26]. A similar gap was identified when analyzing available tools, methods, frameworks and approaches [36], and HEIs’ strategic plans [33]. This implies that contrary to previous literature [6], HEIs’ impacts in the field of sustainability are not fully recognized [4].
    As mentioned earlier, most SD policies addressed campus sustainability [26], but a significantly lower number of articles in this category indicated a lack of consensus between the practice and the literature. The articles in the category “campus operations” mainly addressed the EMS and its implementation process [37][38][39][40][41]. Further research, especially in the form of case studies, is needed in this category to identify and share best practices [38][42][43][44][45][46][47][48].
    Studies in the category “education” examined curricular innovations and provided reviews of SD integration and the development of sustainability-focused courses and programs, whereas articles in the category “research” mostly reported research on ESD. Although much literature has been published on ESD, research on how the HEIs engage with the SDGs is lacking [49]. Further research was also proposed to assess the level of sustainability contribution, the competences covered and developed, and the pedagogical approaches used in one or more HEIs at all levels of education [50][51].
    Furthermore, this entry revealed a lack of indicators to assess and measure the integration of sustainability and SD in education and research [52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][66][50][67][68][69][70], as well as in SD through on-campus experiences [71][72].
    The category “outreach and collaboration” included studies that examined sustainability-oriented HEI networks as well as networks between HEIs and communities or local or regional institutions. Sustainability-oriented HEI networks play an important role in the sustainability transition [10][73][74][75][76][77], yet fewer articles were assigned to this category. Additionally, no comparative assessment of different HEI networks has been conducted [10][73][74][75][76][77].
    The review of the articles from the category “assessment and reporting” implied that SATs may not fit the local needs, and developing a tailored model can be more advantageous for a country or HEI [78][79]. These implications are aligned with the implications from the category “institutional framework,” namely, organizational management tools should be adapted to HEIs’ unique mission and impacts [80][81].
    The analysis of the articles from the category “assessment and reporting” led to similar implications as stated before: HEIs’ sustainability impacts are not fully recognized, and accordingly, the sustainability progress of HEIs is not clearly measurable [6][13][67][68][69][70].
    SATs neglect the impacts that HEIs have outside their organizations, mostly focusing on operations [6][13][67][68][69][70]. A similar gap as before was also identified here, namely, one of the most urgent research topics proposed was the selection and development of indicators to measure the sustainability performance of HEIs, especially regarding research and teaching activities [19].
    Researchers need more information about how to properly assess HEIs’ contribution to sustainability; this lack of knowledge represents a clear barrier to SR [82].

    The entry is from 10.3390/su13147683

    References

    1. Ramísio, P.J.; Pinto, L.M.C.; Gouveia, N.; Costa, H.; Arezes, D. Sustainability Strategy in Higher Education Institutions: Lessons learned from a nine-year case study. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 222, 300–309.
    2. Hoover, E.; Harder, M.K. What lies beneath the surface? The hidden complexities of organizational change for sustainability in higher education. J. Clean. Prod. 2015, 106, 175–188.
    3. Lozano, R.; Lukman, R.; Lozano, F.J.; Huisingh, D.; Lambrechts, W. Declarations for sustainability in higher education: Becoming better leaders, through addressing the university system. J. Clean. Prod. 2013, 48, 10–19.
    4. Findler, F.; Schönherr, N.; Lozano, R.; Reider, D.; Martinuzzi, A. The impacts of higher education institutions on sustainable development: A review and conceptualization. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2019, 20, 23–38.
    5. Lozano, R.; Ceulemans, K.; Alonso-Almeida, M.; Huisingh, D.; Lozano, F.J.; Waas, T.; Lambrechts, W.; Lukman, R.; Hugé, J. A review of commitment and implementation of sustainable development in higher education: Results from a worldwide survey. J. Clean. Prod. 2015, 108, 1–18.
    6. Fischer, D.; Jenssen, S.; Tappeser, V. Getting an empirical hold of the sustainable university: A comparative analysis of evaluation frameworks across 12 contemporary sustainability assessment tools. Assess. Eval. High. Educ. 2015, 40, 785–800.
    7. Ferrero-Ferrero, I.; Fernández-Izquierdo, M.A.; Muñoz-Torres, M.J.; Bellés-Colomer, L. Stakeholder engagement in sustainability reporting in higher education: An analysis of key internal stakeholders’ expectations. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2018, 19, 313–336.
    8. Lambrechts, W. The contribution of sustainability assessment to policy development in higher education. Assess. Eval. High. Educ. 2015, 40, 801–816.
    9. Zamora-Polo, F.; Sánchez-Martín, J.; Corrales-Serrano, M.; Espejo-Antúnez, L. What Do University Students Know about Sustainable Development Goals? A Realistic Approach to the Reception of this UN Program Amongst the Youth Population. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3533.
    10. Ruiz-Mallén, I.; Heras, M. What sustainability? Higher Education Institutions’ pathways to reach the Agenda 2030 goals. Sustainability 2020, 12, 1290.
    11. Aleixo, A.M.; Leal, S.; Azeiteiro, U.M. Conceptualization of sustainable higher education institutions, roles, barriers, and challenges for sustainability: An exploratory study in Portugal. J. Clean. Prod. 2018, 172, 1664–1673.
    12. Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Available online: https://sdgs.un.org/2030agenda (accessed on 13 January 2021).
    13. Bersoza, A.; Bernaldo, M.O.; Fernández-Sanchez, G. Sustainability assessment tools for higher educations: An empirical comparative analysis. J. Clean. Prod. 2017, 161, 812–820.
    14. Snyder, H. Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. J. Bus. Res. 2019, 104, 333–339.
    15. Vargas, V.R.; Lawthom, R.; Prowse, A.; Randles, S.; Tzoulas, K. Sustainable development stakeholder networks for organisational change in higher education institutions: A case study from the UK. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 20, 470–478.
    16. Juárez-Nájera, M.; Rivera-Martínez, J.G.; Hafkamp, W.A. An explorative socio-psychological model for determining sustainable behavior: Pilot study in German and Mexican Universities. J. Clean. Prod. 2010, 18, 686–694.
    17. Mtutu, P.; Thondhlana, G. Encouraging pro-environmental behaviour: Energy use and recycling at Rhodes University, South Africa. Habitat Int. 2016, 53, 142–150.
    18. Schopp, K.; Bornemann, M.; Potthast, T. The Whole-Institution Approach at the University of Tübingen: Sustainable Development Set in Practice. Sustainability 2020, 12, 861.
    19. Huber, S.; Bassen, A. Towards a sustainability reporting guideline in higher education. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2018, 19, 218–232.
    20. Barth, M. Many roads lead to sustainability: A process-oriented analysis of change in higher education. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2013, 14, 160–175.
    21. Blanco-Portela, N.; Benayas, J.; Pertierra, L.R.; Lozano, R. Towards the integration of sustainability in Higher Education Institutions: A review of drivers of and barriers to organisational change and their comparison against those found of companies. J. Clean. Prod. 2017, 166, 563–578.
    22. Lozano, R.; von Haartman, R. Reinforcing the holistic perspective of sustainability: Analysis of the importance of sustainability drivers in organizations. Corp. Soc. Responsib. Environ. Mgmt. 2018, 25, 508–522.
    23. Veiga Ávila, L.; Beuron, T.A.; Brandli, L.L.; Damke, L.I.; Pereira, R.S.; Klein, L.L. Barriers to innovation and sustainability in universities: An international comparison. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2019, 20, 805–821.
    24. Godemann, J.; Bebbington, J.; Herzig, C.; Moon, J. Higher education and sustainable development: Exploring possibilities for organisational change. Account. Audit. Account. J. 2014, 27, 218–233.
    25. Hugé, J.; Mac-Lean, C.; Vargas, L. Maturation of sustainability in engineering faculties—From emerging issue to strategy? J. Clean. Prod. 2018, 172, 4277–4285.
    26. Lidstone, L.; Wright, T.; Sherren, K. An analysis of Canadian STARS-rated higher education sustainability policies. Environ. Dev. Sustain. 2015, 17, 259–278.
    27. Shawe, R.; Horan, W.; Moles, R.; O’Regan, B. Mapping of sustainability policies and initiatives in higher education institutes. Environ. Sci. Policy 2019, 99, 80–88.
    28. Lee, K.-H.; Barker, M.; Mouasher, A. Is it even espoused? An exploratory study of commitment to sustainability as evidenced in vision, mission, and graduate attribute statements in Australian universities. J. Clean. Prod. 2013, 48, 20–28.
    29. Aleixo, A.M.; Azeiteiro, U.; Leal, S. The implementation of sustainability practices in Portuguese higher education institutions. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2018, 19, 146–178.
    30. Farinha, C.S.; Azeiteiro, U.; Caeiro, S.S. Education for sustainable development in Portuguese universities: The key actors’ opinions. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2018, 19, 912–941.
    31. Farinha, C.; Caeiro, S.; Azeiteiro, U. Sustainability Strategies in Portuguese Higher Education Institutions: Commitments and Practices from Internal Insights. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3227.
    32. Filho, W.L. About the Role of Universities and their contribution to sustainable development. High. Educ. Policy 2011, 24, 427–438.
    33. Bieler, A.; McKenzie, M. Strategic Planning for Sustainability in Canadian Higher Education. Sustainability 2017, 9, 161.
    34. Awuzie, B.O.; Abuzeinab, A. Modelling Organisational Factors Influencing Sustainable Development Implementation Performance in Higher Education Institutions: An Interpretative Structural Modelling (ISM) Approach. Sustainability 2019, 11, 4312.
    35. Leal Filho, W.; Brandli, L.L.; Becker, D.; Skanavis, C.; Kounani, A.; Sardi, C.; Papaioannidou, D.; Paço, A.; Azeiteiro, U.; de Sousa, L.O.; et al. Sustainable development policies as indicators and pre-conditions for sustainability efforts at universities: Fact or fiction? Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2018, 19, 85–113.
    36. Kapitulčinová, D.; AtKisson, A.; Perdue, J.; Will, M. Towards integrated sustainability in higher education—Mapping the use of the Accelerator toolset in all dimensions of university practice. J. Clean. Prod. 2018, 172, 4367–4382.
    37. Evangelinos, K.I.; Jones, N.; Panoriou, E.M. Challenges and opportunities for sustainability in regional universities: A case study in Mytilene, Greece. J. Clean. Prod. 2009, 17, 1154–1161.
    38. Disterheft, A.; Da Silva Caeiro, S.S.F.; Ramos, M.R.; De Miranda Azeiteiro, U.M. Environmental Management Systems (EMS) implementation processes and practices in European higher education institutions—Top-down versus participatory approaches. J. Clean. Prod. 2012, 31, 80–90.
    39. Leon-Fernandez, Y.; Domínguez-Vilches, E. Environmental management and sustainability in higher education: The case of Spanish Universities. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2015, 16, 440–455.
    40. Price, T.J. Preaching what we practice: Experiences from implementing ISO 14001 at the University of Glamorgan. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2005, 6, 161–178.
    41. Hancock, L.; Nuttman, S. Engaging higher education institutions in the challenge of sustainability: Sustainable transport as a catalyst for action. J. Clean. Prod. 2014, 62, 62–71.
    42. Leal Filho, W.; Salvia, A.L.; Paço, A.D.; Anholon, R.; Gonçalves Quelhas, O.L.; Rampasso, I.S.; Ng, A.; Balogun, A.-L.; Kondev, B.; Brandli, L.L. A comparative study of approaches towards energy efficiency and renewable energy use at higher education institutions. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 237, 117728.
    43. Wadud, Z.; Royston, S.; Selby, J. Modelling energy demand from higher education institutions: A case study of the UK. Appl. Energy 2019, 233–234, 816–826.
    44. Mendoza, J.M.F.; Gallego-Schmid, A.; Azapagic, A. A methodological framework for the implementation of circular economy thinking in higher education institutions: Towards sustainable campus management. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 226, 831–844.
    45. Mendoza, J.M.F.; Gallego-Schmid, A.; Azapagic, A. Building a business case for implementation of a circular economy in higher education institutions. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 220, 553–567.
    46. Pacheco-Blanco, B.; Bastante-Ceca, M.J. Green public procurement as an initiative for sustainable consumption. An exploratory study of Spanish public universities. J. Clean. Prod. 2016, 133, 648–656.
    47. Sima, M.; Grigorescu, I.; Bălteanu, D. An overview of campus greening initiatives at universities in Romania. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2019, 20, 410–422.
    48. Washington-Ottombre, C.; Bigalke, S. An aggregated and dynamic analysis of innovations in campus sustainability. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2018, 19, 353–375.
    49. Leal Filho, W.; Shiel, C.; Paço, A.; Mifsud, M.; Ávila, L.V.; Brandli, L.L.; Molthan-Hill, P.; Pace, P.; Azeiteiro, U.M.; Vargas, V.R.; et al. Sustainable Development Goals and sustainability teaching at universities: Falling behind or getting ahead of the pack? J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 232, 285–294.
    50. Leal Filho, W.; Shiel, C.; Paço, A. Implementing and operationalising integrative approaches to sustainability in higher education: The role of project-oriented learning. J. Clean. Prod. 2016, 133, 126–135.
    51. Lozano, R.; Barreiro-Gen, M.; Lozano, F.J.; Sammalisto, K. Teaching Sustainability in European Higher Education Institutions: Assessing the Connections between Competences and Pedagogical Approaches. Sustainability 2019, 11, 1602.
    52. Aleixo, A.M.; Azeiteiro, U.M.; Leal, S. Are the sustainable development goals being implemented in the Portuguese higher education formative offer? Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2020, 21, 336–352.
    53. Brugmann, R.; Côté, N.; Postma, N.; Shaw, E.A.; Pal, D.; Robinson, J.B. Expanding Student Engagement in Sustainability: Using SDG- and CEL-Focused Inventories to Transform Curriculum at the University of Toronto. Sustainability 2019, 11, 530.
    54. Dimitrova, E. The ‘sustainable development’ concept in urban planning education: Lessons learned on a Bulgarian path. J. Clean. Prod. 2014, 62, 120–127.
    55. Holden, M.; Elverum, D.; Nesbit, S.; Robinson, J.; Yen, D.; Moore, J. Learning teaching in the sustainability classroom. Ecol. Econ. 2008, 64, 521–533.
    56. Howlett, C.; Ferreira, J.-A.; Blomfield, J. Teaching sustainable development in higher education: Building critical, reflective thinkers through an interdisciplinary approach. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2016, 17, 305–321.
    57. Powell, N.; Larsen, R.K. Integrated water resource management: A platform for higher education institutions to meet complex sustainability challenges. Environ. Educ. Res. 2013, 19, 458–476.
    58. Staniškis, J.K.; Katiliute, E. Complex evaluation of sustainability in engineering education: Case & analysis. J. Clean. Prod. 2016, 120, 13–20.
    59. Stonkutė, E.; Vveinhardt, J.; Sroka, W. Training the CSR Sensitive Mind-Set: The Integration of CSR into the Training of Business Administration Professionals. Sustainability 2018, 10, 754.
    60. Yarime, M.; Trencher, G.; Mino, T.; Scholz, R.W.; Olsson, L.; Ness, B.; Frantzeskaki, N.; Rotmans, J. Establishing sustainability science in higher education institutions: Towards an integration of academic development, institutionalization, and stakeholder collaborations. Sustain. Sci. 2012, 7, 101–113.
    61. Wyness, L.; Sterling, S. Reviewing the incidence and status of sustainability in degree programmes at Plymouth University. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2015, 16, 237–250.
    62. Juárez-Nájera, M.; Dieleman, H.; Turpin-Marion, S. Sustainability in Mexican Higher Education: Towards a new academic and professional culture. J. Clean. Prod. 2006, 14, 1028–1038.
    63. Khan, S.; Henderson, C. How Western Michigan University is approaching its commitment to sustainability through sustainability-focused courses. J. Clean. Prod. 2020, 253, 119741.
    64. Larsson, J.; Holmberg, J. Learning while creating value for sustainability transitions: The case of Challenge Lab at Chalmers University of Technology. J. Clean. Prod. 2018, 172, 4411–4420.
    65. Natkin, L.W.; Kolbe, T. Enhancing sustainability curricula through faculty learning communities. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2016, 17, 540–558.
    66. Adomssent, M.; Godemann, J.; Michelsen, G. Transferability of approaches to sustainable development at universities as a challenge. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2007, 8, 385–402.
    67. Alghamdi, N.; den Heijer, A.; de Jonge, H. Assessment tools’ indicators for sustainability in universities: An analytical overview. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2017, 18, 84–115.
    68. Bullock, G.; Wilder, N. The comprehensiveness of competing higher education sustainability assessments. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2016, 17, 282–304.
    69. Findler, F.; Schönherr, N.; Lozano, R.; Stacherl, B. Assessing the Impacts of Higher Education Institutions on Sustainable Development—An Analysis of Tools and Indicators. Sustainability 2019, 11, 59.
    70. Urbanski, M.; Filho, W.L. Measuring sustainability at universities by means of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS): Early findings from STARS data. Environ. Dev. Sustain. 2015, 17, 209–220.
    71. Fichter, K.; Tiemann, I. Factors influencing university support for sustainable entrepreneurship: Insights from explorative case studies. J. Clean. Prod. 2018, 175, 512–524.
    72. Filho, W.L.; Doni, F.; Vargas, V.R.; Wall, T.; Hindley, A.; Rayman-Bacchus, L.; Emblen-Perry, K.; Boddy, J.; Avila, L.V. The integration of social responsibility and sustainability in practice: Exploring attitudes and practices in Higher Education Institutions. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 220, 152–166.
    73. Dlouhá, J.; Henderson, L.; Kapitulčinová, D.; Mader, C. Sustainability-oriented higher education networks: Characteristics and achievements in the context of the UN DESD. J. Clean. Prod. 2018, 172, 4263–4276.
    74. Dlouhá, J.; Macháčková-Henderson, L.; Dlouhý, J. Learning networks with involvement of higher education institutions. J. Clean. Prod. 2013, 49, 95–104.
    75. Kahle, J.; Risch, K.; Wanke, A.; Lang, D.J. Strategic Networking for Sustainability: Lessons Learned from Two Case Studies in Higher Education. Sustainability 2018, 10, 4646.
    76. Naeem, M.A.; Peach, N.W. Promotion of sustainability in postgraduate education in the Asia Pacific region. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2011, 12, 280–290.
    77. Vezzoli, C.; Ceschin, F.; Diehl, J.C. Sustainable Product-Service System Design applied to Distributed Renewable Energy fostering the goal of sustainable energy for all. J. Clean. Prod. 2015, 97, 134–136.
    78. De Araújo Góes, H.C.; Magrini, A. Higher education institution sustainability assessment tools: Considerations on their use in Brazil. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2016, 17, 322–341.
    79. Parvez, N.; Agrawal, A. Assessment of sustainable development in technical higher education institutes of India. J. Clean. Prod. 2019, 214, 975–994.
    80. Filho, W.L.; Shiel, C.; do Paço, A. Integrative approaches to environmental sustainability at universities: An overview of challenges and priorities. J. Integr. Environ. Sci. 2015, 12, 1–14.
    81. Brito, R.M.; Rodríguez, C.; Aparicio, J.L. Sustainability in Teaching: An Evaluation of University Teachers and Students. Sustainability 2018, 10, 439.
    82. Fonseca, A.; Macdonald, A.; Dandy, E.; Valenti, P. The state of sustainability reporting at Canadian universities. Int. J. Sustain. High. Educ. 2011, 12, 22–40.
    More