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Special Issue "Sustainable Development and Higher Education Institutions: Acting with a purpose"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Engineering and Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 December 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Göran Finnveden

Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Engineering, The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable development; assessment methods; life cycle assessment; sustainable development in higher education; environmental policy
Guest Editor
Dr. L.A. Verhoef

Department the Green Office, Division Strategic Development, Delft University of Technology, Van Den Broekweg 2, Delft, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable development; multi-disciplinary innovation; campus as living labs; circular economy; additive manufacturing for sustainability; hydrogen economy; triple helix models; sustainability implementation tools
Guest Editor
Dr. Julie Newman

Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable development; sustainable development goals; urban sustainable development; organizational change management for sustainability; urban metabolism; sustainable mobility; circular economy; campus as living lab; big data for sustainability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have a unique role and responsibility for the future and for driving the development of a sustainable society. HEIs are charged with the task of fostering sustainability in the leaders of tomorrow, developing solutions and methods to address a sustainable future and ensuring that we contribute knowledge to society. HEIs must also ensure that our everyday operations and practices are consistent with a sustainable future and we work to holistically integrate sustainability into mission of the university and our daily tasks. We welcome papers that are related to all aspects of Sustainability and Higher Education Institutions and that show innovation in approach, outcomes and/or impact. We encourage papers that describe experiences broader than their own university. Possible topics for papers submission include, but are not limited to:

  1. Promoting education for sustainable development
  2. Promoting research for sustainable development
  3. Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals on campus
  4. Collaboration and knowledge sharing
    • Student engagement
    • Strategic partnerships for societal impact
  5. Sustainable meeting solutions: Examples of how Higher Education Institutes reduce their own impacts using mediated reality and technology for travel-free meetings?
  6. Gender, Diversity and Representation: Higher Education Institutes and Sustainable Development
  7. The role of investment in supporting Sustainable Development
  8. Campus operations, Campus Facilities and Campus development
  9. Campus as Living Lab—education, research and collaboration in campus projects
  10. Challenge driven education for global sustainable development
  11. Incentives for integrating Sustainable Development in Higher Education Institutes- including Major university excellence ranking and rating organizations.
  12. Measuring and monitoring sustainability on our campuses and in our cities

This special issue will present papers from the 2018 International Sustainable Campus Network Conference in June 11–13, 2018. (https://www.international-sustainable-campus-network.org/conferences/stockholm-2018) but welcomes also other relevant papers. All papers will be peer-reviewed. We encourage early submission. Papers are published when they have been accepted so papers that are submitted early (e.g. before March 1, 2018) can after review be published at the time of the conference for increased exposure.

Prof. Dr. Göran Finnveden
Dr. L.A. Verhoef
Dr. Julie Newman
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Education for sustainable development
  • Sustainable Development Goals and Universities
  • Sustainable meeting solutions
  • Gender equality and universities
  • Campus operations
  • Challenge driven education for sustainable development
  • Universities as living labs

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Challenges of Promoting Sustainable Mobility on University Campuses: The Case of Eastern Mediterranean University
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4842; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124842 (registering DOI)
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 15 December 2018 / Published: 18 December 2018
PDF Full-text (1042 KB)
Abstract
Universities have the extraordinary ability to generate awareness regarding all aspects of sustainability in communities. To be successful, they must first adopt and model sustainable concepts within their own campuses. Transportation is one of the most affective sectors on the level of sustainability
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Universities have the extraordinary ability to generate awareness regarding all aspects of sustainability in communities. To be successful, they must first adopt and model sustainable concepts within their own campuses. Transportation is one of the most affective sectors on the level of sustainability on university campuses. In recent decades, numerous universities around the world have begun encouraging usage of active modes of transportation through various strategies. This research has a multi-faceted approach to researching proven strategies, sampling local conditions, and making context-driven recommendations. The literature review outlines the most effective strategies related to Transportation Demand Management (TDM) for promoting usage of active modes of transportation inside university campuses. After that, the condition of existing facilities and strategies as well as commuters’ propensities related to active modes of transportation in the Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) campus are evaluated using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The results include a set of recommendations and a framework for administrating, implementing, and enhancing a sustainable transportation system thereby increasing the commuter’s use of sustainable active modes of transportation to, from, and within the university campus. Full article
Open AccessArticle Transition to Sustainability in Macro-Universities: The Experience of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4840; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124840 (registering DOI)
Received: 25 October 2018 / Revised: 14 December 2018 / Accepted: 15 December 2018 / Published: 18 December 2018
PDF Full-text (1080 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we assess the challenges of macro-universities to incorporate sustainability as an integral dimension of their activities and institutional development, and as a public higher education institutions that have an important role in sustainable development in the Global South. To this
[...] Read more.
In this paper, we assess the challenges of macro-universities to incorporate sustainability as an integral dimension of their activities and institutional development, and as a public higher education institutions that have an important role in sustainable development in the Global South. To this end, we analyzed the efforts oriented towards incorporating sustainability into research and teaching agendas, as well as the campus management activities of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), a university with national presence and a community of more than 420,000 people comprising students, academics and administrative staff. UNAM has historically been one of the most important research and teaching institutions in Latin America. The analysis incorporates quantitative and qualitative data, relying on information sources such as the databases of the University regarding research and teaching, institutional documents and interviews with key actors. This study argues that inter-institutional articulation is a key factor to integrate the increasing sustainable initiatives promoted in the last decade but also one of the main challenges in the consolidation of macro-universities as sustainable universities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Strategic Networking for Sustainability: Lessons Learned from Two Case Studies in Higher Education
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4646; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124646
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 25 November 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
PDF Full-text (271 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As places where future citizens are educated, knowledge is (co-)produced and societal developments are critically reflected, higher education institutions (HEIs) can play a key role in addressing sustainability challenges. In order to accelerate mutual learning, shared problem understanding, and joint development of sustainable
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As places where future citizens are educated, knowledge is (co-)produced and societal developments are critically reflected, higher education institutions (HEIs) can play a key role in addressing sustainability challenges. In order to accelerate mutual learning, shared problem understanding, and joint development of sustainable solutions, interinstitutional exchange and collaboration between HEIs is crucial. However, little research to date has focused on institutional HEI networks in the field of sustainability. More specifically, we still understand little about the concrete development, implementation, and adaptation of such networks. This article explores early-stage HEI networks for sustainability from a conceptual and empirical stance in order to develop a framework that facilitates structured descriptions of these networks, as well as to foster cross-HEI learning on their effective performance. It therefore combines insights from an explorative literature review, two case studies and an interactive workshop at the ISCN Conference 2018. As results, we first suggest an analytical framework to facilitate a systematic characterization of HEI networks. Second, by applying the framework to the two case studies, we present and discuss lessons learned on how a single HEI can contribute to establishing a network and how it can utilize its network membership effectively to strengthen its efforts for sustainability. Full article
Open AccessArticle Planning & Open-Air Demonstrating Smart City Sustainable Districts
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4636; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124636
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 29 November 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
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Abstract
The article is focused on the “demonstration” activities carried out by the University of Genoa at Savona Campus facilities in order to implement the “Living Lab Smart City”. The idea is to transform the Savona Campus in a Living Lab of the City
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The article is focused on the “demonstration” activities carried out by the University of Genoa at Savona Campus facilities in order to implement the “Living Lab Smart City”. The idea is to transform the Savona Campus in a Living Lab of the City of the Future: smart technologies in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and energy sectors were installed in order to show a real application of the Smart City concept to population and external stakeholders. Moreover, special attention was given to the environment, personal wellbeing, and social equalities. The sustainable energy Research Infrastructures (RIs) of Savona Campus allowed enhancement of the applied research in degree programs and the collaboration with several companies. In particular, an important partnership with the Italian electric Distribution System Operator (DSO), ENEL S.p.A., started in 2017 to test the capability of these RIs to operate disconnected from the National Grid, relying only on the supply of renewables and storage systems. The “Living Lab Smart City” is an important action to reduce the carbon footprint of the Savona Campus and to increase the awareness of students, teachers and researchers towards Sustainable Development in Higher Education Institutes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Delta Project: Towards a Sustainable Campus
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3695; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103695
Received: 23 June 2018 / Revised: 14 September 2018 / Accepted: 16 September 2018 / Published: 15 October 2018
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Abstract
The University of Guayaquil, which shares the same name as the city where it is located, faces the challenge of its image transformation for the 21st century. It was deemed necessary to identify details about the urban evolution of the city over time,
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The University of Guayaquil, which shares the same name as the city where it is located, faces the challenge of its image transformation for the 21st century. It was deemed necessary to identify details about the urban evolution of the city over time, in relation to the changes produced by the project’s site and its direct area of influence. The goal is to integrate the main university campus within a framework which guarantees sustainability and allows innovation in the living lab. To achieve this, the action research method was applied, focused on the community participation and the logic framework. The proposal, the management model, and the integrated working groups were organized with internal users such as professors, students, and university authorities, and external actors such as residents, local business communities, Guayaquil city council, and its local mayor and governor. As result of the diagnosis, six different analysis dimensions were established which correspond to the new urban agenda for the future campus: compactness, inclusiveness, resilience, sustainability, safety, and participation. As a proposal, the urban design integrates the analysis of the dimensions whose financial support and execution are given by the municipality authorities that integrates the campus with its network of community police headquarters. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Equal Opportunities in Academic Careers? How Mid-Career Scientists at ETH Zurich Evaluate the Impact of Their Gender and Age
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3343; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093343
Received: 21 July 2018 / Revised: 11 September 2018 / Accepted: 15 September 2018 / Published: 19 September 2018
PDF Full-text (575 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Gender equality is essential to social justice and sustainable development in the higher education sector. An important aspect thereof is to promote equal opportunities for academic careers. This study investigates the current situation and possibilities for improvement in this regard from the perspectives
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Gender equality is essential to social justice and sustainable development in the higher education sector. An important aspect thereof is to promote equal opportunities for academic careers. This study investigates the current situation and possibilities for improvement in this regard from the perspectives of mid-career scientists in a sustainability-oriented university department. A survey of scientists from the postdoctoral to adjunct professor level (N = 82) in the Department of Environmental Systems Science (D-USYS) of ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) was thus conducted to investigate judgements, experiences, and ideas for improvement concerning equal career opportunities. About 90% of the respondents perceived no disadvantages based on gender, ethnicity, race, or faith. However, about 30% felt disadvantaged due to their age. Comments revealed not a single case in which latter disadvantages were based on prejudice. Instead, ETH-wide or national age and time-based restrictions for certain positions caused the inequality perceptions. Furthermore, comments indicated that these restrictions can disadvantage scientists taking care of children. Some participants suggested a revision or removal of corresponding rules. Further suggestions included an improved availability of childcare places. ETH Zurich recently undertook great efforts to provide excellent and affordable childcare services, increasing the number of available places by about 30% in the year following this survey. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Prefiguring Sustainability through Participatory Action Research Experiences for Undergraduates: Reflections and Recommendations for Student Development
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3332; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093332
Received: 26 July 2018 / Revised: 11 September 2018 / Accepted: 15 September 2018 / Published: 18 September 2018
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Abstract
PAR-based UREs are undergraduate research experiences (UREs)—built into university-community partnerships—that apply principles of participatory action research (PAR) towards addressing community-defined challenges. In this paper, we advance PAR-based UREs as an action-oriented framework through which higher education institutions can simultaneously enact and advance the
[...] Read more.
PAR-based UREs are undergraduate research experiences (UREs)—built into university-community partnerships—that apply principles of participatory action research (PAR) towards addressing community-defined challenges. In this paper, we advance PAR-based UREs as an action-oriented framework through which higher education institutions can simultaneously enact and advance the United Nations sustainable development agenda, while cultivating student development. We draw upon interdisciplinary scholarship on sustainable development and PAR, as well as empirical findings from a pilot program, to accomplish dual goals. First, through the lens of six Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) clusters, we explore the synergies between undergraduate PAR engagement and sustainable development, explaining how PAR-based UREs can prefigure and facilitate SDG achievement by promoting cross-sector collaboration and supporting diverse stakeholder engagement through community-driven research and action. Second, within each SDG cluster, we offer complementary reflections and recommendations around the design and implementation of PAR-based UREs towards advancing students’ skills and abilities as: (1) Community Collaborators (and Learners); (2) Community-Engaged Researchers; (3) (Interdisciplinary) Scholars; (4) Agents of Change; (5) (Sustainable) Co-Innovators; and (6) Institutional Representatives. Finally, we discuss the critical role of higher education institutions in minimizing structural barriers to PAR-based URE implementation, given their prefigurative and practical potential for both SDG achievement and student development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle It’s a Hit! Mapping Austrian Research Contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3295; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093295
Received: 30 August 2018 / Revised: 12 September 2018 / Accepted: 13 September 2018 / Published: 14 September 2018
PDF Full-text (1631 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) present a global agenda addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges in a holistic approach. Universities can contribute to the implementation of the SDGs by providing know-how and best-practice examples to support implementation and by integrating issues of
[...] Read more.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) present a global agenda addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges in a holistic approach. Universities can contribute to the implementation of the SDGs by providing know-how and best-practice examples to support implementation and by integrating issues of sustainability into their operations, research, education, and science-society interactions. In most of the signatory countries of the Agenda 2030, an overview of the extent to which universities have already addressed the SDGs in research is not available. Using the example of universities in Austria, this study presents a tool to map research that addresses sustainability topics as defined by the SDGs. The results of an analysis of scientific projects and publications show current focus areas of SDG related research. Research on SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and SDG 4 (Quality Education) is well represented by universities in Austria, while other SDGs, such as SDG 1 (No Poverty) or SDG 14 (Life Below Water), are under-represented research fields. We anticipate the results will support universities in identifying the thematic orientation of their research in the framework of the SDGs. This information can facilitate inter-university cooperation to address the challenge of implementing the SDGs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle How Water Bottle Refill Stations Contribute to Campus Sustainability: A Case Study in Japan
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3074; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093074
Received: 24 July 2018 / Revised: 21 August 2018 / Accepted: 26 August 2018 / Published: 29 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1299 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility of installing Water bottle Refill Stations (WRSs) and their contributions to campus sustainability by means of encouraging pro-environmental behavior in students. Plastic waste is one of the most critical environmental issues. Therefore, we
[...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility of installing Water bottle Refill Stations (WRSs) and their contributions to campus sustainability by means of encouraging pro-environmental behavior in students. Plastic waste is one of the most critical environmental issues. Therefore, we investigated how WRS can deter students from using disposable plastic bottles. We conducted a survey at a Japanese university to address (1) students’ Willingness To Pay (WTP) to install WRS, (2) their Willingness To Use (WTU) WRSs while acknowledging its environmental benefits, and (3) the impact of communicating information about points (1) and (2). We utilized Goal-Framing Theory (GFT) and the Integrated Framework for Encouraging Pro-Environmental Behavior (IFEP) as the theoretical background of our study. The results of our survey found that the mean WTP was 2211 JPY (1 JPY = 0.01 USD), an amount students would donate just once. This finding indicates students would be willing to pay to install a WRS at their university. The mean WTP students supported would be enough to cover the WRS installation and maintenance costs. According to our study, 58.82% of students stated that they would be willing to use WRS. In doing so, students would save 45,191 disposable plastic bottles and reduce 10,846 kg of related CO2 emissions every year. Our study also showed a statistically significant increase in WTP and WTU WRS as we introduced more and more information about pro-environmental behaviors to students. This finding indicates the importance of information campaigning and learning how to encourage pro-environmental behavior. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Transferring Sustainability Solutions across Contexts through City–University Partnerships
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 2966; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10092966
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 15 August 2018 / Accepted: 20 August 2018 / Published: 21 August 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (245 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The urgency of climate change and other sustainability challenges makes transferring and scaling solutions between cities a necessity. However, solutions are deeply contextual. To accelerate solution efforts, there is a need to understand how context shapes the development of solutions. Universities are well
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The urgency of climate change and other sustainability challenges makes transferring and scaling solutions between cities a necessity. However, solutions are deeply contextual. To accelerate solution efforts, there is a need to understand how context shapes the development of solutions. Universities are well positioned to work with cities on transferring solutions from and to other cities. This paper analyses five case studies of city–university partnerships in three countries on transferring solutions. Our analysis suggests that understanding the interest, the action on sustainability, and the individual and collective sustainability competences on the part of the city administration and the university can help facilitate the transfer of sustainability solutions across contexts. We conclude that the nature of the city–university partnership is essential to solution transfer and that new and existing networks can be used to accelerate progress on the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Full article
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