Special Issue "Higher Education Institutions and Sustainable Development – Implementing a Whole-Institution Approach"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2020).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Marco Rieckmann
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Working Group of Higher Education Development, Department of Education, Faculty of Education and Social Sciences, University of Vechta, Driverstraße 22, 49377 Vechta, Germany
Interests: education for sustainable development; higher education development; competence development; sustainable university development
Prof. Dr. Inka Bormann
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Division of General Education, Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Interests: education for sustainable development; educational governance; trust in educational organisations; sustainable university development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability is an urgent developmental task for our society, and is attracting increasing attention. Higher education institutions (HEIs), like all other organisations within our society, are called upon to deal with the associated challenges. The task of HEIs is to deal theoretically, conceptually, methodically, critically, and reflectively with the processes and conditions of transformation, in order to contribute towards ensuring that sustainability is implemented in a specific context.

How can complex organisations such as HEIs succeed in initiating and maintaining the process of sustainable development within their own institutions, and make it a permanent responsibility? How can as many protagonists as possible be persuaded to get involved in sustainable development? For these questions, there is no patent recipe, no guidelines to action, no checklist that would be equally helpful for all universities or that could be applied across the board by all. HEIs are too different, for example ,in terms of their legal form (private or public), their location (rural or metropolitan), or size (small and specialised or a large university offering a full range of faculties). In addition, HEIs are influenced by external framework conditions that promote aspects of sustainability to varying degrees, depending on national or regional policies.

This Special Issue deals with the promotion of sustainable university development. In the sense of a “whole-institution approach”, which encompasses entire HEIs, the focus is not only on the core areas of  teaching (education for sustainable development in higher education) and research (sustainability in research), but also on the operational management of HEIs. In addition, this Special Issue focuses on sustainability reporting and sustainability governance as cross-disciplinary themes, as well as on transfer for sustainable development at HEIs.

References:

Adams, C.A. (2013) Sustainability reporting and performance management in universities, Sustainability 4(3): 384-392.

Adams, R., Martin, S. and Boom, K. (2018) University culture and sustainability: Designing and implementing an enabling framework. Journal of Cleaner Production 171 (2018): 434-445.

Atherton, A. and Giurco, D. (2011) Campus sustainability. Climate change, transport and paper reduction, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 12(3): 269-279.

Baker-Shelley, A., van Zeijl-Rozema, A. and Martens, P. (2017) A Conceptual Synthesis of Organisational Transformation. How to Diagnose, and Navigate, Pathways for Sustainability at Universities?, Journal of Cleaner Production 145: 262-276.

Barth, M., Rieckmann, M. (2016) State of the Art in Research on Higher Education for Sustainable Development, in Barth, M., Michelsen, G., Rieckmann, M. and Thomas, I. (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development. London: Routledge, pp. 100-113.

Bauer, M.; Bormann, I.; Kummer, B.; Niedlich, S. and Rieckmann, M. (2018) Sustainability Governance at Universities: using a Governance Equalizer as a Research Heuristic. Higher Education Policy 31: 491-511.

Brinkhurst, M., Rose, P., Maurice, G., and Ackerman, J.D. (2011) Achieving campus sustainability. Top‐down, bottom‐up, or neither?, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 12(4): 338-354.

Disterheft, A., Caeiro, S., Azeiteiro, U.M. and Leal Filho, W. (2015) Sustainable universities – a study of critical success factors for participatory approaches, Journal of Cleaner Production (106): 11-21.

Fadeeva, Z. and Mochizuki, Y. (2010) Higher education for today and tomorrow: university appraisal for diversity, innovation and change towards sustainable development, Sustainability Science 5(2): 249-256.

Ferrer‐Balas, D., Adachi, J., Banas, S., Davidson, C. I., Hoshikoshi, A., and Mishra, A. (2008) An international comparative analysis of sustainability transformation across seven universities, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 9(3): 295-316.

Hoover, E., Harder, M.K. (2015) What lies beneath the surface? The hidden complexities of organizational change for sustainability in higher education, Journal of Cleaner Production 106: 175-188.

Leal Filho, W. (2015) Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education: Reviewing Needs, in W. Leal Filho (ed.), Transformative Approaches to Sustainable Development at Universities. World Sustainability Series. Springer, Cham, pp. 3-12.

Leal Filho, W., Pallant, E., Enete, A., Richter, B., and Brandli, L. L. (2018) Planning and implementing sustainability in higher education institutions: an overview of the difficulties and potentials, International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology. Published online 10 April 2018. doi: 10.1080/13504509.2018.1461707.

Littledyke, M., Manolas, E., Littledyke, R.A. (2013) A systems approach to education for sustainability in higher education, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 14(4): 367-383.

Lozano, R. (2006) Incorporation and institutionalization of SD into universities. Breaking through barriers to change, Journal of Cleaner Production 14(9-11): 787-796.

Lozano, R., Ceulemans, K., Alonso-Almeida, M., Huisingh, D., Lozano, F.J., Waas, T. (2015) A review of commitment and implementation of sustainable development in higher education. Results from a worldwide survey, Journal of Cleaner Production 108: 1-18.

Mader, C., Scott G., Dzulkifli, A.R. (2013) Effective change management, governance and policy for sustainability transformation in higher education, Sustainability 4(3): 264-284.

Müller-Christ, G., Sterling, S., van Dam-Mieras, R., Adomßent, M., Fischer, D., Rieckmann, M. (2014) The Role of Campus, Curriculum, and Community in Higher Education for Sustainable Development – a Conference Report, Journal of Cleaner Production 62: 134-137.

Rammel, C., Velásquez, L., Mader, C. (2016) Sustainability Assessment in Higher Education Institutions. What and how?, in M. Barth, G. Michelsen, I. Thomas and M. Rieckmann (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development, London: Routledge, pp. 331-346.

Rath, K., Schmitt, C.T. (2017) Sustainability at Universities: Degrees of Institutionalization for Sustainability at German Higher Education Institutions – A Categorization Pattern, in W. Leal Filho et al. (eds.), Handbook of Theory and Practise of Sustainable Development in Higher Education. Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 451-470.

Spira, F., Tappeser, V., Meyer, A. (2013) Perspectives on Sustainability Governance from Universities in the USA, UK, and Germany: How do Change Agents Employ Different Tools to Alter Organizational Cultures and Structures?, in S. Caeiro, W. Leal Filho, C. Jabbour, and U. M. Azeiteiro (eds.) Sustainability Assessment Tools in Higher Education Institutions. Mapping Trends and Good Practices around the World, Cham: Springer, pp. 175–187.

Stephens, J.C., Graham, A.C. (2010) Toward an empirical research agenda for sustainability in higher education. Exploring the transition management framework, Journal of Cleaner Production 18(7): 611–618.

Wals, A. E. J., Tassone, V. C., Hampson, G. P., Reams, J. (2016) Learning for walking the change: eco-social innovation through sustainability-oriented higher education, in M. Barth, G. Michelsen, I. Thomas, and M. Rieckmann (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development, London: Routledge, pp. 25-39.

Weisser, C.R. (2017) Defining sustainability in higher education: a rhetorical analysis. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 18 (7): 1076-1089.

Wu, Yen-Chun Jim and Shen, Ju-Peng (2016) Higher education for sustainable development: a systematic review. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 17 (5): 633-651.

Prof. Dr. Marco Rieckmann
Prof. Dr. Inka Bormann
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Higher education
  • Sustainable development
  • Whole-institution approach
  • Education for sustainable development in higher education
  • Sustainability in research
  • Operational management
  • Sustainability reporting
  • Sustainability governance
  • Transfer for sustainable development

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
University 4.0: Promoting the Transformation of Higher Education Institutions toward Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3371; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083371 - 21 Apr 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1184
Abstract
Higher education institutions (HEIs) could act as pivotal change agents for sustainable development (SD) in times of global climate action. However, HEIs have to respond to increasingly complex demands simultaneously, such as massification, globalization, marketization, and digitalization. Based on Graves’ model of systemic [...] Read more.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) could act as pivotal change agents for sustainable development (SD) in times of global climate action. However, HEIs have to respond to increasingly complex demands simultaneously, such as massification, globalization, marketization, and digitalization. Based on Graves’ model of systemic development, this paper discusses two main strategies to deal with increased complexity in order to meet the challenge of SD: (a) Promoting general systemic development of a given HEI, progressively opening up to various stakeholders and focusing on co-creative collaboration, and (b) participating in inter-organizational networks to find inspiration for dealing with challenging trends. Four distinct phases of higher education development are presented. It is argued that transdisciplinary research and research-based learning will increasingly be needed for tackling societal issues and that HEIs should address different organizational subsystems individually. Furthermore, four types of inter-organizational networks are proposed and implications for network management are discussed. A case study of the HOCH-N network illustrates the practical application of the presented ideas. Finally, adopting a multi-dimensional and networked organizational model as an integrative University 4.0 is argued to be suitable for increasing the capacity to deal with complexity, thus meeting the challenge of sustainable development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transfer for Sustainable Development at Higher Education Institutions—Untapped Potential for Education for Sustainable Development and for Societal Transformation
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2925; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072925 - 07 Apr 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1051
Abstract
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are increasingly confronted with societal needs beyond research and teaching. These include sustainable development and technology transfer as well as the practical application of knowledge and ideas. Several HEIs already put sustainable development and transfer into practice. These practitioner–university [...] Read more.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are increasingly confronted with societal needs beyond research and teaching. These include sustainable development and technology transfer as well as the practical application of knowledge and ideas. Several HEIs already put sustainable development and transfer into practice. These practitioner–university partnerships comprise a broad range of actors, disciplines, topics, and formats. However, transfer activities that contribute to sustainable development in society still make up only a very small part of HEIs’ activities. In response to calls from society as a whole, HEIs could combine transfer and sustainable development more systematically. In this article, we suggest a concept of transfer for sustainable development. The focus is on sustainability transfer in teaching. We used mixed methods for this conceptual work: exploratory workshops, expert interviews, and a case study of transfer in teaching. One of the results presented in this article is a working definition of sustainability transfer at HEIs. In addition, six characteristics for describing sustainability transfer in its various forms are formulated. This conceptualization makes it possible to analyze the diversity of HEIs’ sustainability transfer activities, it helps to identify and encourage potential transfer actors at HEIs as well as practitioners, and, thus, tap the full potential of sustainability transfer. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Alliances of Change Pushing Organizational Transformation Towards Sustainability across 13 Universities
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2853; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072853 - 03 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 847
Abstract
Universities are expected to play a leading role in developing and maintaining sustainability. To contribute to a systemic and dynamic understanding of organizational change that is necessary in order to play such a role, we comparatively analyzed processes of organizational changes towards sustainability [...] Read more.
Universities are expected to play a leading role in developing and maintaining sustainability. To contribute to a systemic and dynamic understanding of organizational change that is necessary in order to play such a role, we comparatively analyzed processes of organizational changes towards sustainability across thirteen universities in Austria. This comparative analysis is based on data from guided interviews and document analysis and on validation of preliminary results via group discussion and individual comments. The results show that all universities embedded sustainability in most of their areas of activity (research, teaching, operations, organizational culture, societal engagement), but the depth of integration and the type of structural embedding varies. Especially for early changes dating back to the 1990s, academics working in the broader field of sustainability studies were those agents of change, who—without formal mandate—skillfully and proactively initiated and drove organizational transformations following an idealistic and intrinsic motivation. A timeline analysis illustrates peaks of sustainability-related changes in the years of the foundation of inter-university networks in 2011 and 2017, which acted as alliances of change. Ministry intervention in 2015 helped to bring sustainability on the agenda of those universities with less change agency. In summary, sustainability transformations across the fields of teaching, research, operations, organizational culture, and societal engagement were driven by a fruitful interplay of change agency and change alliances and to a minor degree by top-down interventions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Universities in a Sustainable Society. Why Value-Free Research is Neither Possible nor Desirable
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2811; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072811 - 02 Apr 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1054
Abstract
The current climate crisis confronts us with a deep discrepancy between knowledge and action. Therefore, this article is looking for a readjustment of the relationship between science and society. The positivist self-understanding of science and its fragmented organizational form lead to a marginalization [...] Read more.
The current climate crisis confronts us with a deep discrepancy between knowledge and action. Therefore, this article is looking for a readjustment of the relationship between science and society. The positivist self-understanding of science and its fragmented organizational form lead to a marginalization of ethical questions. Instead, sustainability calls for a re-examination of the preconditions and embedding contexts of supposedly value-free research. Faced with the increasing complexity of the modern world, ethics must spell out a new “grammar of responsibility” that addresses the prevalent “declamatory overload of responsibility”. Ethicists can fulfil this role by uncovering and regulating conflicting goals and dilemmas. Instead of playing the role of “marginal echo chambers”, universities ought to assume their social responsibility as structural policy actors. This article suggests a methodology of responsible research as a specific ethical contribution to the model of “transformative” and “catalytic” science for a “post-normal age”. True to their founding mission, academia should herald a “New Enlightenment” that is more self-reflexive regarding its own practical and ethical preconditions, foundations, and consequences. This article presents a possible practical method for fostering the dialogue between the natural sciences and the humanities and to link research, education, practice, and social communication in new ways. It is concluded that a foundation of a whole-rationality approach with a multidimensional understanding of wisdom and, respectively, rationality and sagacity is necessary for sustainable universities. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Interdependencies of Culture and Functions of Sustainability Governance at Higher Education Institutions
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2780; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072780 - 01 Apr 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1212
Abstract
Sustainable development practices in higher education institutions are diverse, with regard not only to the types of challenges that have to be addressed, but also to the forms of sustainability governance adopted by individual higher education institutions. This paper aims to reflect on [...] Read more.
Sustainable development practices in higher education institutions are diverse, with regard not only to the types of challenges that have to be addressed, but also to the forms of sustainability governance adopted by individual higher education institutions. This paper aims to reflect on the aspects of organizational culture that are particularly crucial for the implementation of sustainable practices at higher education institutions. Specifically, it addresses the research question: how do different organizational cultures affect approaches to sustainability governance at higher education institutions (HEIs)? It reflects on data from multi-case studies at eleven German higher education institutions. Four of the cases are analyzed in this paper to draw out the insights they offer on how organizational culture shapes the institutions’ approach to sustainable development. A governance equalizer is used as a functional framework for evaluating and discussing the influence of different cultural orientations on sustainability governance. In addition to providing many insights and findings in relation to specific cases, comparison of the different institutions, their governance structures and their cultures of sustainable development helps to emphasize that there is no single cultural factor that can be identified as directly promoting particular governance structures. Rather, there is an active interplay between cultural orientations, which influence, and are also influenced by, the measures deployed. Such influence is not instantly apparent but needs time to develop, and it evolves in a variety of ways as illustrated by the case studies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Sustainability Governance in Higher Education Institutions—A Systemic Tool Using a Governance Equalizer
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1816; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051816 - 28 Feb 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1353
Abstract
The paper aims to add to the discussion on sustainability governance in higher education institutions by examining the role of sustainability assessment and introducing an assessment tool inspired by systemic thinking and centered on a ‘governance equalizer’. It discusses recent research and argues [...] Read more.
The paper aims to add to the discussion on sustainability governance in higher education institutions by examining the role of sustainability assessment and introducing an assessment tool inspired by systemic thinking and centered on a ‘governance equalizer’. It discusses recent research and argues that the complexity inherent in sustainability governance remains to be addressed adequately. While a number of models and frameworks have been proposed, most of them remain caught between narrow, management-oriented approaches on the one hand, and rather abstract approaches that provide little guidance for improving the field on the other. Sustainability assessment tools represent a potential way to bridge this gap. While there are existing tools which include issues of sustainability governance, these are often limited to aspects that are easily quantifiable and neglect more complex aspects. Against this background, the article proposes an alternative tool to assess sustainability governance in higher education institutions. The tool is based on a multi-case study in Germany and has been tested in a series of workshops. Drawing on the concept of a ‘governance equalizer’, it focuses on the functional requirements of sustainability governance in five dimensions—politics, profession, organization, knowledge, and the public—and how they are addressed by the HEI. The tool raises the level of abstraction in order to capture complexity, but at the same time keeps sight of governance structures, processes, instruments, and practices. It combines clearly defined criteria that are assessed using carefully developed maturity scales with a focus on stakeholder participation and knowledge. Full article
Open AccessArticle
What Sustainability? Higher Education Institutions’ Pathways to Reach the Agenda 2030 Goals
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1290; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041290 - 11 Feb 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1495
Abstract
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have the mandate of promoting sustainability through addressing the Agenda 2030. However, how this is being understood and framed in both discourse and practice by HEIs remains an underexplored issue. This article interrogates the concept of sustainability embraced by [...] Read more.
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have the mandate of promoting sustainability through addressing the Agenda 2030. However, how this is being understood and framed in both discourse and practice by HEIs remains an underexplored issue. This article interrogates the concept of sustainability embraced by ten key HEIs networks at global and regional levels while identifying and discussing the main pathways for action displayed. We rely on HEIs networks’ data from available online documents related to the Agenda 2030. “Greening” is the dominant sustainability discourse among the global and many regional HEIs networks, that is, the one that refers to the links between people, planet and profit. Two other discourses are minor and regional, “resilience” and “alternative”. The “alternative” discourse is the only one entailing a critical approach to the Agenda 2030 goals. All networks promote changes in HEIs organizational culture to embed sustainability values in strategic planning, academic and managerial work. Yet there is a need for further engagement with society to readdress HEIs societal role. Deep and critical reflection of the worldviews, contradictions and tensions in the discourses and practices proposed by HEIs networks at global and regional scales is also needed to build common pathways toward sustainability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Whole-Institution Approach at the University of Tübingen: Sustainable Development Set in Practice
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 861; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030861 - 23 Jan 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1149
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Environmental Management Performance in Higher Education Institutions
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 655; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020655 - 16 Jan 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1527
Abstract
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are influential social institutions which educate future decision-makers and shape society as a whole. Motivated by new public management, the proliferation of business tools, and a rising awareness for responsible acting, environmental management has also become a matter for [...] Read more.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are influential social institutions which educate future decision-makers and shape society as a whole. Motivated by new public management, the proliferation of business tools, and a rising awareness for responsible acting, environmental management has also become a matter for HEIs. Focusing on performance outcomes and improvement based mechanisms leads to a professionalization through the active management of environmental issues. Therefore, the support of management structures is an essential prerequisite when implementing environmental efforts. Thus far, little attention has been dedicated to environmental management performance and steering processes of environmental issues in HEIs, which marks the research gap of this study. This article presents results of a survey on the concept of environmental management performance (EMP) based on Trumpp et al. (2015) aiming to answer the research question of how HEIs conduct environmental management along the dimensions of EMP, which includes environmental policy, environmental objectives, environmental processes, organizational structures, and monitoring. The results show that, as of now, HEIs pursue no common practice when approaching EMP. Nevertheless, two thirds of the respondents show an orientation towards sustainability with particularly high values regarding issues of environmental policy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Bridging Intellectual Capital, Sustainable Development and Quality of Life in Higher Education Institutions
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020479 - 08 Jan 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1511
Abstract
This paper analyses the relationship between the intellectual capital of higher education institutions (HEIs) and their sustainable development practices, and assesses whether higher education institutions’ sustainable development practices are related to their stakeholders’ quality of life. Using a structural equation model, two model [...] Read more.
This paper analyses the relationship between the intellectual capital of higher education institutions (HEIs) and their sustainable development practices, and assesses whether higher education institutions’ sustainable development practices are related to their stakeholders’ quality of life. Using a structural equation model, two model specifications are estimated, gathering primary data from a convenience sample composed of 738 full-time students and 587 teachers/researchers at seven Portuguese higher education institutions. The findings reveal that intellectual capital influences sustainable development practices directly and positively, whereas sustainable development practices influence students’ quality of life in a significant way, although the same is not verified for teachers/researchers. These findings provide insightful implications for policy-making and intellectual capital management for practices in higher education institutions; firstly, by showing that the sustainable development concept is associated with HEIs’ practices of economic, environmental, social and organisational sustainability; secondly, by concluding that public Portuguese HEIs need to improve the social dimension of their sustainable development practices, and here there may be room for improvement in the institution through better and more proficient social engagement that is more directed to the challenges of sustainability and social change; and thirdly, by showing that the inclusion of better sustainable practices has repercussions on the quality of life of all stakeholders. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
‘A Nut We Have Officially yet to Crack’: Forcing the Attention of Athletic Departments Toward Sustainability Through Shared Governance
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5198; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195198 - 23 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 865
Abstract
In many ways, intercollegiate athletics represents the ‘sustainable’ front porch of higher education. The high-visibility, high-impact nature of elite-level college athletics make athletic departments a central player in the sustainable development journey. However, not all athletic departments respond to this responsibility, nor are [...] Read more.
In many ways, intercollegiate athletics represents the ‘sustainable’ front porch of higher education. The high-visibility, high-impact nature of elite-level college athletics make athletic departments a central player in the sustainable development journey. However, not all athletic departments respond to this responsibility, nor are all responses uniformly successful. According to national reporting frameworks, an increasing number of universities in the United States are choosing to involve their athletic departments in university-level sustainability governance structures, but the benefits and limitations of this remain unclear. Using the theory of loosely coupled systems, and more specifically, the voice of compensations (which views loose coupling as an unsatisfactory state), the purpose of this paper is to explore perceptions of athletic department engagement in shared sustainability governance, and, thus, a whole-of-institution approach. Semi-structured interviews with sustainability office personnel were conducted and analyzed, and the findings imply that shared sustainability governance has the potential to focus the attention of athletic departments toward sustainability, as well as to reaffirm shared values. Yet, to maximize the impact of athletic departments toward the sustainable development goals of a university, sustainability office personnel suggest the deployment of additional change levers, in a multi-dimensional fashion, as supplementary coupling mechanisms. These would include more rigorous sustainability goals (top-down), continued collaboration on ‘low-hanging fruit’ initiatives (lateral), student-athlete engagement (bottom-up), and the development of an internal sustainability framework (inside-out). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cross-Sector Collaboration in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs): A Critical Analysis of an Urban Sustainability Development Program
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4982; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184982 - 12 Sep 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 949
Abstract
In the last years, a shift in the promotion of sustainable development in Higher Education from a focus on universities’ core areas of teaching and research to “whole institution approaches” with an emphasis on the operational management of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can [...] Read more.
In the last years, a shift in the promotion of sustainable development in Higher Education from a focus on universities’ core areas of teaching and research to “whole institution approaches” with an emphasis on the operational management of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can be observed in different countries. With the aim to foster sustainability, HEIs have increasingly built cross-sectoral networks, involving not only academics but also practitioners in order to relate sustainability not only to research but also to outreach activities. Although there is an increasing body of literature evaluating such initiatives according to supposedly objective management criteria and indicators, there is still a lack of studies that investigate how the social meaning of knowledge production is (re-)negotiated in and through these partnerships. In this article, we analyze how individuals engaged in a cross-sector partnership make sense of the organizational dilemmas and ambiguities that stem from the complexity of working together across sectors in pursuit of an integrative approach to knowledge production. With the term “sector” we refer to the professional affiliations of the individuals involved in the partnerships, e.g., higher education, administration, formal education or non-governmental organizations. We focus on an illustrative cross-sectoral partnership: The Institute for Sustainable Urban Development (ISU), a collaborative project between Malmö University and Malmö’s city administration to facilitate research and planning collaborations between both organizations in respect to furthering sustainable urban (re-)development and higher education in Malmö, Sweden. By employing a constant comparative approach based on Grounded Theory to analyze data collected with focus groups, semi-structured qualitative interviews and document analysis, we claim that rather than entering a partnership with predefined identities, values and sectoral or professional preferences, individuals engage in a narrative struggle about the organizational character of their partnership. Accordingly, an important avenue for investigating cross-sector partnerships is to explore the constructive dilemma of different organizing principles in a cross-sector partnership, and the way people negotiate the boundaries between them. For the cross-sector partnership studied the constructive dilemma for those engaging in it was to separate and link project, organizational and network organizing principles in their work. Implementing whole institutions approaches in order to promote sustainable development in and through HEIs, would accordingly profit much from a deeper analytical investigation of the process of navigating professional identities and organizational narrative(s) in boundary-spanning, cross-sector partnerships. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Modelling Organisational Factors Influencing Sustainable Development Implementation Performance in Higher Education Institutions: An Interpretative Structural Modelling (ISM) Approach
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4312; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164312 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1155
Abstract
Globally, higher education institutions (HEIs) have continued to record varied sustainable development (SD) implementation performances. This variance has been attributed to the presence of certain organisational factors. Whereas previous studies have successfully identified the factors influencing SD implementation performance in HEIs, few studies [...] Read more.
Globally, higher education institutions (HEIs) have continued to record varied sustainable development (SD) implementation performances. This variance has been attributed to the presence of certain organisational factors. Whereas previous studies have successfully identified the factors influencing SD implementation performance in HEIs, few studies have attempted to explore the relationship between these factors and the influence of such a relationship on the management of SD implementation in HEIs. This is the objective of this study. Understandably, knowledge of such relationships will facilitate the development of appropriate frameworks for managing SD implementation in HEIs. Relying on a case study of a South African University of Technology (SAUoT), this study elicits data through a focus group discussion session. An interpretative structural modelling (ISM) focus group protocol indicating extant pair-wise relationships between identified organisational factor categories was extensively discussed. The emergent data was recorded, transcribed verbatim and subsequently analysed. The findings suggest that communication was critical to the prevalence of other factors, hence indicating its centrality to the effective management of SD implementation in HEIs. These findings will guide implementing agents in HEIs towards developing appropriate mechanisms for communicating SD implementation strategies. Full article
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