A Holistic Approach to Integrate and Evaluate Sustainable Development in Higher Education. The Case Study of the University of the Basque Country
1. Introduction: The United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Higher Education
1.1. Call for Action by Universities and an Opportunity for Universities
1.2. The Case Study: The University of the Basque Country
1.3. Rethinking the Institutional Commitment to Sustainable Development
- Consistently incorporate the specific local efforts of students, teaching staff, researchers and technical and administrative staff regarding the SDGs, and take up the agenda as a common interconnected task to become part of all the university’s activities.
- Create and apply policies for teaching-learning, equality, integration and environmental management by means of a common integrated logic with targets that are recognizable and measurable in the medium/long term.
- Set up a UPV/EHU Sustainable Development indicator panel, in this way achievements may be measured, monitored and communicated transparently.
- Develop a policy of close-knit partnerships with the environment to step up co-responsibility with the SDGs.
2. Methodology, Progressive Results and Discussion
- Campus Bizia Lab. This is an initiative derived from the Erasmus Project University Educators for Sustainable Development, in which academic staff, students and services staff design and execute projects in order to reduce the environmental impact of our campuses. More info: https://www.ehu.eus/es/web/iraunkortasuna/campus-bizia-lab
- Akademe. This is a programme to empower young women to lead research teams and departments or other units. https://www.ehu.eus/es/web/akademe
- Ocean i3 Project. This is an educational innovation project based on Research Based Learning methodologies focused on the “oceans plastic pollution” challenge. Its mission is to contribute to reducing pollution on the Basque-Aquitaine cross-border coast. https://euskampus.eus/en/programmes-en/euskampus-bordeaux/ocean-i3?set_language=en
- Gaztenpatia. A programme that promotes empathy among students by collaborating in the Euskal Fondoa (Association of local Basque cooperating entities) projects in Central America and the Sahara. https://www.ehu.eus/es/web/oficop/gaztenpatia
- Equality Campus, which centres on SDG5 “Gender equality”, was set up based on the University’s experiences in terms of equality policies for men and women, however it comes up against fresh challenges. As a priority, it attempts to make gender perspective and feminist theory part of the teaching environment and of final-year undergraduate and master projects. One of the new elements is the emphasis placed on the early augmentation of scientific and technological vocations, particularly in the case of women. Moreover, the struggle against gender violence, sexist conduct and gender-based discriminatory attitudes in the university environment, by implementing and promulgating the UPV/EHU Protocol against gender violence.
- Inclusion Campus contributes to SDG10 “Reduced inequalities”, by underlining the reduction of inequality. On the same terms as the previously mentioned case, this was pieced together on the basis of the two earlier inclusion plans. Even so, the very concept of inclusion has been widened here and includes, as before, the groups of people with disabilities, but also other groups that have been variously catered for such as prisoners, refugees and people in a situation of economic vulnerability.
- Planet Campus covers SDG3 “Good health and well-being”, SDG7 “Affordable and clean energy”, SDG9 “Industry, innovation and infrastructure”, SDG11 “Sustainable cities and communities”, SDG12 “Responsible consumption and production” and SDG13 “Climate action”. This plan sets out to bring together all the environmental policies deployed by the University in the last few years. It will be performed via the pragmatic environmental management drivers: energy, water, waste, town planning and infrastructure, health and welfare, transport and mobility, responsible purchases and consumption and climate change.
- Institutional incorporation of the UPV/EHU’s catalogue of common transversal competences, together with programmes for adjustment, planning, curricular upgrades at the levels of undergraduate, master, doctorate and continuous training.
- Updating teaching guides for undergraduate and master subjects, providing visibility for i3 action.
- Addition to already established active methodologies, inquiry-based learning and research-based learning.
- Reinforcing and extending programmes or initiatives that create experiences with a high-training impact on students, individual or group experiences, self-managed volunteer experiences or development cooperation work.
- Exploring the possibilities of more extensive curricular niches: sequence of voluntary work/business internship/practicum + final-year undergraduate project/final-year master project/doctoral theses, with the aim of making significant contributions from the perspective of the SDGs.
- Joint final-year undergraduate projects or final-year master projects based on one of the university’s common challenges.
- Experimenting with the idea of co-management processes for final-year undergraduate projects and final-year master projects with research teams, external companies and bodies (by way of practicum tutorials), to give students first-hand knowledge of these real contexts and enter into teaching–learning relationships with external agents (mentoring).
- Upgrading and promoting, at a congress, final-year undergraduate projects and final-year master projects that have made a wholly new or particularly advantageous contribution to a certain problem or challenge, with sustainability as a driving factor.
- Acknowledging structured IKDi3 teaching teams, meaning teams teaching subjects, areas or modules with an innovative practice that produce tried and trusted results in terms of teaching, and also in terms of what students learn (success rates and satisfaction with teaching methodology).
2.3. Diagnosis and Definition of Indicators
- Enhancing EHUagenda 2030. The indicator panel will serve as a basis to draw up annual follow-up reports. By 2025, the indicator panel, consolidated with the indicators taken into consideration in each sectoral plan and amalgamated with the results of the assessment of the sectoral plans, will be used as a basis to conduct an in-depth assessment of compliance with EHUagenda 2030 and to establish milestones for 2025–2030.
- Comparability and benchmarking compared to other universities. The indicator panel can be used to juxtapose data with other universities, on the condition that they use a similar methodology. In the same way, the possibility is considered for using the panel as a basis for mainstream rankings in order to draw comparisons with universities worldwide and pinpoint areas for improvement.
- Socialising and publicising the SDGs among the university community. When the panel has been made known to lecturers, the definition of the indicators will encourage and incentivise the inclusion of specific aspects of SDGs in syllabuses. Indicators relating to the UPV/EHU internal aspects as an organisation will encourage administrative and services staff to determine and prioritise areas of improvement within the organization. Information presented based on the SDGs will incentivize and motivate students to contribute in other aspects.
- Disseminating information will make the Basque society aware of the SDGs, which are increasingly in the general domain.
- Finally, in general, but especially with regard to indicators relating to the organisation, the information published will include a certain amount of traction to specify the contribution that organisation can make to the SDGs with companies and/or contractors offering services to the UPV/EHU, and other administrations with which the UPV/EHU works.
2.4. Estimating the Indicators and Establishing the Baseline
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|AASHE||Association for the Advanced Sustainability in Higher Education|
|European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System|
Education for Sustainable Development
|European Structural and Investment Funds|
Global Higher Education for Sustainability Partnership
|HESD||Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development|
|IKD||Ikaskuntza Kooperatibo eta Dinamikoa (Cooperative and Dynamic Learning)|
|i3||ikaskuntza x ikerkuntza x iraunkortasuna (learning x research x sustainability)|
|ISCN||International Sustainable Campus Network|
|MDG||Millennium Development Goals|
|REDS||Red Española para el Desarrollo Sostenible (Spanish Network for Sustainable Development)|
|SDG||Sustainable Development Goals|
|SDSN||Sustainable Development Solutions Network|
|SEPN||Sustainability and Education Policy Network|
|UE4SD||University Educators for Sustainable Development|
|ULSF||University Leaders for a Sustainable Future|
|UPV/EHU||Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (University of the Basque Country)|
|EEES||European Higher Education System|
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|SDG||Number of Targets||Targets|
|3-Good health and well-being||3||3.4|
|7-Affordable and clean energy||2||7.2|
|8-Decent work and economic growth||3||8.3|
|9-Industry, innovation and infrastructure||2||9.4|
|11-Sustainable cities and communities||2||11.2|
|12-Responsible production and consumption||4||12.3|
|16-Peace, justice and strong institutions||3||16.6|
|17-Partnerships for the goals||3||17.2|
|1. People in the university community involved in initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles |
2. People in the university community receiving assistance on health and wellness programmes
3. Graduates in health-related professions
|32. Number of students assisted on inclusion schemes|
33. Number of students involved in solidarity activities (volunteer work)
34. Salary difference between employees earning the highest and the lowest remuneration
35. Percentage of UPV/EHU staff with a disability
|4. Students enrolled|
5. Students in their first year at the University
6. Academic offer (undergraduate qualifications, master’s courses, doctorates and in-house qualifications)
7. Number of final-year projects contributing to SDGs
8. Students graduating
9. Number of theses contributing to SDGs
10. Number of consolidated research groups contributing to SDGs
11. Assessment of the competences received by graduates
12. Student satisfaction with the UPV/EHU
13. Number of lecturers involved in innovative projects in connection with sustainability
|36. People in the university community using sustainable means of transport on a daily basis (walking, cycling and public transport)|
37. Number of bike parking spaces
38. Percentage of the surface area of university campuses occupied by greenery and gardens
|14. Number of times the UPV/EHU gender violence protocol has been activated |
15. Percentage of women in charge of research groups
16. Percentage of women in academic posts
17. Percentage of female professors or full female lecturers with respect to the total
18. Number of former postgraduates on feminist and gender courses
|39. Food waste|
40. Generation of hazardous waste in labs and workshops
41. Generation of electrical and electronic waste
42. Percentage of selective collection
43. Generation of waste
44. Percentage of tenders issued with ethical, social and environmental clauses
45. People graduating in studies relating to the environment
|19. Production of renewable energies|
20. Percentage of energy used from renewable sources
21. Percentage of heat facilities equipment with energy ratings A, B or C
22. Percentage of buildings with level A, B or C energy efficiency certificates
|46. Number of educational activities in connection with climate change|
47. Number of research activities in connection with climate change
|23. Number of spin-offs created|
24. Number of high-qualification jobs in companies created by the University
25. Rate of employment of former students at three years
26. Time elapsing up to the first job
27. Percentage of UPV/EHU staff with permanent contract
|48. UPV/EHU transparency index|
50. Participation by the university community in decision-making
51. Percentage of UPV/EHU staff providing special services in local, regional, national or European governments
|28. GHG inventory|
29. Percentage of teaching centres with a plan to improve environmental performance
30. Number of events certified with an environmental seal
31. Number of patents or licences operated that contribute to SDGs
|52. Number of student volunteers offering 0.7% of their enrolment fee to be used on university development cooperation projects|
53. Number of development cooperation projects
54. Number of students involved in development cooperation projects
55. Number of collective agreements with public authorities and social bodies
56. UPV/EHU participation in networks in relation to sustainable development
|57. Percentage of European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits offers in Basque on undergraduate courses |
58. Number of doctoral theses in Basque
|17. Percentage of female professors or female full lecturers with respect to the total|
|Percentage of female professors or female full lecturers with respect to the total number of female and male professors or full lecturers during the academic year|
|Unit||%||Broken down into sexes||Not applicable|
|Source||Equality Department||Regularity of the calculation||Annual|
|Calculation methodology||Number of female professors or female full lecturers at the end of the academic year/Number of female and male professors or full lecturers at the end of the academic year|
|SDG concerned||5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls|
|United Nations Target(s) concerned||5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere|
5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
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Sáez de Cámara, E.; Fernández, I.; Castillo-Eguskitza, N. A Holistic Approach to Integrate and Evaluate Sustainable Development in Higher Education. The Case Study of the University of the Basque Country. Sustainability 2021, 13, 392. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010392
Sáez de Cámara E, Fernández I, Castillo-Eguskitza N. A Holistic Approach to Integrate and Evaluate Sustainable Development in Higher Education. The Case Study of the University of the Basque Country. Sustainability. 2021; 13(1):392. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010392Chicago/Turabian Style
Sáez de Cámara, Estibaliz, Idoia Fernández, and Nekane Castillo-Eguskitza. 2021. "A Holistic Approach to Integrate and Evaluate Sustainable Development in Higher Education. The Case Study of the University of the Basque Country" Sustainability 13, no. 1: 392. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010392