Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 3043-3063; doi:10.3390/su6053043

Universities as Potential Actors for Sustainable Development

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Received: 1 April 2014; in revised form: 8 May 2014 / Accepted: 11 May 2014 / Published: 19 May 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Proceedings of the 3rd International Sustainability Conference)
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract: Universities can contribute to the solutions of major challenges of the 21st century such as increasing environmental and socio-economic crises, inequalities of income and wealth and political instabilities by integrating the concept of sustainable development (SD) in research, organization, and by educating future decision makers. For instance, by integrating sustainability into the organization, universities can lead by example. Furthermore, through the curriculum, future decision makers can learn the competences needed to solve ecological, social, and economic problems in societies. However, despite their possible importance, universities in Germany fall behind internationally in implementing sustainable strategies. Therefore this paper presents/introduces an approach to how universities can implement the holistic concept of SD that considers all three dimensions (economic, ecological, and social) relating to their main functions of research and education in addition to their organization. Additionally this paper analyzes the current state of implementing sustainability strategies at universities, and how the success of these implementation efforts can be evaluated and be fostered further. We find that assessment systems enable universities to systematically use their potential for action for SD by initiating, evaluating, and accelerating the sustainability process. This also applies in the case of German universities, where the implementation of SD is still in the early stages.
Keywords: sustainable development; higher education (HE); education for sustainable development (ESD); assessment systems; higher education in Germany
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MDPI and ACS Style

von Hauff, M.; Nguyen, T. Universities as Potential Actors for Sustainable Development. Sustainability 2014, 6, 3043-3063.

AMA Style

von Hauff M, Nguyen T. Universities as Potential Actors for Sustainable Development. Sustainability. 2014; 6(5):3043-3063.

Chicago/Turabian Style

von Hauff, Michael; Nguyen, Thuan. 2014. "Universities as Potential Actors for Sustainable Development." Sustainability 6, no. 5: 3043-3063.

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