In the following paper, we scrutinize understandings and values behind Sustainable Development (SD) in a case study of the University of Tübingen, Germany. In so doing, we adopt the perspective of the whole-institution approach of SD. We do not only analyze documents, but combine our investigations with empirical research on key actors’ understandings and values of SD, as well as the competencies and the knowledge to set SD in practice. First, we demonstrate that actors’ understandings and the values behind them at the University of Tübingen are in accord with the United Nations’ understanding of SD (‘Brundtland Report’). Second, we show that at the University of Tübingen, many actors already work in line with the whole-institution approach; this shall be further fostered and strengthened by the Competence Centre for SD. Finally, we demonstrate that both knowledge and competencies are fundamental to act for SD. It is suggested that the University of Tübingen should explicitly adopt the general understanding of SD in the above-mentioned sense, and develop a sustainability strategy, not least in order to support the actors to acquire specific knowledge to reach SD for the whole university. Finally, we discuss the potential and limits of transferring the findings to other Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and the challenges of necessary global perspectives.
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