Special Issue "Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Elena de la Poza Plaza
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Economics and Social Sciences, Faculty of Business Administration and Management, Center for Economic Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de València, València, Spain
Interests: modeling; sustainability; business; higher education; valuation
Dr. Javier Orozco-Messana
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, School of Building Engineering, Materials Technological Institute, Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia, Spain
Interests: materials for energy and building sustainability; higher education; internationalization

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Higher education institutions (HEIs) are the epicenter of innovation and critical thinking, nurturing each new generation of leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, and educators. HEIs are responsible for raising awareness and fostering better understanding of the sustainable development goals determined at the 2030 Agenda (United Nations).1

This Special Issue deals with the commitment of HEIs towards comprehensively integrating sustainable development practices into their core mission.

In this Special Issue, we are bringing together scholarly work that describes and analyzes how higher education can connect with and contribute to a sustainable growth worldwide.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Teaching sustainable development across all disciplines of study;
  • Encouraging research and dissemination of sustainable development knowledge;
  • Green campuses and supporting local sustainability efforts;
  • Engaging and sharing information with international networks;
  • Sustainable local and international capacity development;
  • Methods for assessing sustainable development;
  • Sustainable quality hidden risks of higher public education.

1 Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Dr. Elena de la Poza Plaza
Dr. Javier Orozco-Messana
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 semimonthly 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 1800 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

  • Higher education
  • Sustainable quality
  • Sustainable development
  • Green campus
  • Local sustainability
  • Capacity building
  • Sustainability knowledge and skills
  • Risks

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Fostering Sustainable Development through Shifting Toward Rural Areas and Digitalization—The Case of Romanian Universities
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4020; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104020 - 14 May 2020
Abstract
Educational institutions, especially universities, have been major pillars in societal transformation throughout society’s history. They have been leading change through their discoveries, research results, and foremost, their example. Nowadays, universities have once again taken the role of leading change in a world that [...] Read more.
Educational institutions, especially universities, have been major pillars in societal transformation throughout society’s history. They have been leading change through their discoveries, research results, and foremost, their example. Nowadays, universities have once again taken the role of leading change in a world that is profoundly determined to have a sustainable approach to life, paying attention to the long-term effects of their actions. In this sense, under the impact of deep digitalization, this paper advocates for the sustainable development of universities regarding campuses’ expansion to rural areas. Moreover, it was demonstrated that sustainable development can be achieved by embracing the potential of digitalization. Based on a multicriteria analysis of the Romanian development regions, the research results showed that the rural area might be a welcoming environment for campuses of sustainable universities, based on digitalization at the level of the rural area in all activity fields, which is an initiative that would generate positive outcomes on many levels for different types of stakeholders, such as universities, students, staff, rural area population, and the nearby business environment. Future research aims to approach and explain the compounded effects of such an approach in depth and establish an even clearer picture of how beneficial such an expansion could prove to all factors considered under a knowledge-based society with digitized information as a vital pillar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Promoting Employability in Higher Education: A Case Study on Boosting Entrepreneurship Skills
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4004; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104004 - 14 May 2020
Abstract
How can higher education increase the employability of university students? We present a case study on an innovative training itinerary aimed to promote the participation of teaching staff to stimulate the creativity of students and enhance their employability skills. Students acquire the entrepreneurship [...] Read more.
How can higher education increase the employability of university students? We present a case study on an innovative training itinerary aimed to promote the participation of teaching staff to stimulate the creativity of students and enhance their employability skills. Students acquire the entrepreneurship competences by applying the problem-solving methodology to their innovative projects based on sustainable development. The participation in the contest shows a growing importance, with topics ranging from the more technical ones, such as nutrition innovation, science innovation, or sustainability, to the social projects, related to social services, inclusion, or services against gender violence, harassment, and bullying. The percentage of multidisciplinary teams increased from 38% in 2015 to 76% in 2019 and even more in finalist teams, a positive trend in improving soft skills. According to some testimonies, the acquisition of these entrepreneurship competences partially compensates for students’ lack of professional experience by enriching their curriculum vitae (CV) and, for some students, lays the groundwork for establishing a real business after their participation in the contest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Application of the Modified College Impact Model to Understand Chinese Engineering Undergraduates’ Sustainability Consciousness
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2614; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072614 - 25 Mar 2020
Abstract
The college impact model provides a valuable framework for explaining various college student learning outcomes. However, few quantitative studies have examined the effectiveness of college impact model in explaining engineering undergraduates’ sustainability consciousness, a critical learning outcome in engineering education. This study proposes [...] Read more.
The college impact model provides a valuable framework for explaining various college student learning outcomes. However, few quantitative studies have examined the effectiveness of college impact model in explaining engineering undergraduates’ sustainability consciousness, a critical learning outcome in engineering education. This study proposes a modified college impact model to test the structural links among curriculum experiences, sustainable agency beliefs, and engineering undergraduates’ sustainability consciousness, and to explore the moderating effect of gender on the structural model. Data are collected from 1804 senior engineering students enrolled in five traditional engineering disciplines at 14 first-class engineering universities in China. Structural equation modeling was used for testing the research model. The results demonstrate that (1) curricular emphasis has a significant direct impact on all three dimensions of students’ sustainability consciousness, while instructional practice has a significant direct influence on the sustainability knowingness dimension; (2) both curricular emphasis and instructional practice have a significant indirect influence on sustainability consciousness through the full or partial mediation of sustainable agency beliefs; and (3) gender moderates several paths in the structural model. Theoretical and practical implications are provided, and suggestions for future research are offered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Development at Higher Education in China: A Comparative Study of Students’ Perception in Public and Private Universities
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2158; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062158 - 11 Mar 2020
Abstract
This research is implemented in the backdrop of the increasing number of private universities established in China over the last decade, and a growing public concern of sustainable development. The private university has a different reputation and source of funding compared with the [...] Read more.
This research is implemented in the backdrop of the increasing number of private universities established in China over the last decade, and a growing public concern of sustainable development. The private university has a different reputation and source of funding compared with the public one, leading to different perception and practices toward sustainable development. Yet, none of past studies have investigated into public and private universities in the Chinese context, making this study fill this gap through comparing students’ perception in Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Engineering (a public university) and Guangzhou College of South China University of Technology (a private university). By using the five-point Likert scale questionnaire, 393 students from the public university and 347 students from the private university participated in the survey. The results reveal that students have greatest concern with sustainability commitment and their university’s role for promoting sustainable development, and have least concern with sustainability curricula and research. Compared with students from the public university, students in the private one more often agree on the importance of sustainable development, and have a higher level of perception about commitment, knowledge, attitudes, and practices toward sustainability. The study findings assert that the higher level of perception from private university’s students is due to active campus sustainability engagement and positive stakeholder relationship managed by university management. The study implies that higher education needs to decentralize sustainable plans and decision-making to students, staff, and faculty, and public universities need to incorporate more sustainability-related context into curriculum and academic project. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Relevance of Skills in Total Quality Management in Engineering Studies as a Tool for Performing Their Jobs
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 2065; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12052065 - 07 Mar 2020
Abstract
The Spanish higher education system needs to adapt to the requirements of the European Higher Education Area and to this end, it is necessary for higher education institutions to improve the quality of university education, leading to an increase in competency-based learning activities [...] Read more.
The Spanish higher education system needs to adapt to the requirements of the European Higher Education Area and to this end, it is necessary for higher education institutions to improve the quality of university education, leading to an increase in competency-based learning activities aimed at developing the skills of graduates. Since university graduates face a large number of requirements when entering the labour market, they need to develop and constantly update the appropriate skills to carry out their work properly. This paper aims to address two fundamental questions. First, do engineering graduates need acquired skills in Total Quality Management (TQM) to perform their jobs successfully? Secondly, which job profile requires the highest level of Total Quality Management training and knowledge? We carried out different multivariate statistical analyses using a sample of engineering graduates who had been in the labour market for two years. The results show that knowledge of this type of management philosophy is necessary for adequate job performance. The job profile requiring the highest level of skills in TQM is described. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Identification of Variables that Predict Teachers’ Attitudes toward ICT in Higher Education for Teaching and Research: A Study with Regression
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1312; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041312 - 11 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The aim of this research is to analyse the attitudes towards information and communication technologies (ICT) of higher education teachers from an affective, cognitive and behavioural model for teaching and research. It also aimed to explore different factors that can predict such attitudes. [...] Read more.
The aim of this research is to analyse the attitudes towards information and communication technologies (ICT) of higher education teachers from an affective, cognitive and behavioural model for teaching and research. It also aimed to explore different factors that can predict such attitudes. A non-experimental study was proposed using a survey technique and descriptive and inferential analyses were carried out using a multiple linear regression model (MLR). In total, the sample was formed by 867 university professors from Spain belonging to different areas of knowledge. The results show that these teachers have a medium total attitudinal level, so the lowest attitudes have been represented by the behavioural ones, followed by the affective ones. Regarding the predictor variables, variables that can predict such attitudes were found to be age, participation in projects, gender and teaching in face-to-face and/or online universities (ordered from highest to lowest priority). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Experiences in Transdisciplinary Education for the Sustainable Development of the Built Environment, the ISAlab Workshop
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1143; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031143 - 05 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
There is a growing recognition and acceptance that society needs to develop new pathways to achieve a more sustainable future. Our current model of development poses significant challenges when it comes to achieving a more just society based on respect for nature and [...] Read more.
There is a growing recognition and acceptance that society needs to develop new pathways to achieve a more sustainable future. Our current model of development poses significant challenges when it comes to achieving a more just society based on respect for nature and human rights, and demands a sustainable economy supported by a new circular model supporting the UN sustainable development goals. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) accordingly have developed Master programs that are responsible for providing fundamental services in the joint effort towards sustainability. Meanwhile, leading Universities around the world have developed other very relevant programs. The open and unstructured challenge of sustainability poses an obstacle to existing academic structures. Specifically, the built environment is one of the leading contributors to challenges addressed in the programs such as: Anthropogenic climate change, resource depletion, waste generation and pollution, poverty, and inequity. The Interdisciplinary Sustainable Architecture lab (ISAlab) explores these issues as part of a multidisciplinary approach involving the collaboration of leading Universities from different areas on the world through an innovative initiative. This paper explores the experiences of the ISAlab workshop, which has been taking place yearly in Valencia since 2017. The workshop draws together students from a range of disciplines from across engineering and science, law and the social sciences and from a range of countries and backgrounds, including North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Its purpose is to facilitate a rich co-creative learning environment led by (engineering) academic faculties from across Europe (Spain, the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands and Ireland) as well as North America (the US and Canada), as well as local experts who helped provide participants with appropriate context and guidance. The objective is educating future engineers that are capable of finding robust ways to implement sustainability at a practical level on the built environment, taking account of the multidisciplinary perspective and with the incentive of solving real-life problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring University Performance through Multiple Factor Analysis: A Case Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 924; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030924 - 27 Jan 2020
Abstract
Higher Education in Colombia is experiencing a period of shortfalls in funding which has obliged Universities to seek resources from non-governmental sources, in addition to this, the Ministry of National Education (MEN) has implemented a scheme where funds are assigned year on year [...] Read more.
Higher Education in Colombia is experiencing a period of shortfalls in funding which has obliged Universities to seek resources from non-governmental sources, in addition to this, the Ministry of National Education (MEN) has implemented a scheme where funds are assigned year on year but this is not considered part of the budgetary base. This study seeks to create a characterisation of the model and proposes the creation of a synthetic performance index based on Multiple Factorial Analysis (MFA). This index enabled us to rank the Higher Education Institutions (HEI) according to their performance and analyse the trajectory of Colombian Universities at a given moment, which meant their evolution over time could be reviewed, moreover within the complexity of the model of indices of results in Colombian higher education, the majority of HEI have a similar, yet, to some degree, distinct structure and display scores which show that within a certain degree of homogeneity, each institution has its strengths in some of the variables considered and its weaknesses in others. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards Sustainability in University Education. Improving University Graduates Chances of Employability by Participation in a High Achievement Academic Program
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 680; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020680 - 17 Jan 2020
Abstract
This piece of research focusses on the sustainable development goal (SDG) number four of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: quality education. The main objective of this research was to determine whether introducing a High Achievement Academic Program (ARA Groups) at a Spanish [...] Read more.
This piece of research focusses on the sustainable development goal (SDG) number four of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: quality education. The main objective of this research was to determine whether introducing a High Achievement Academic Program (ARA Groups) at a Spanish public university could enhance its graduates’ employability. According to the existing scientific literature, some variables related to the students’ accomplishments during college are good predictors of future employability: academic performance, participation in international exchanges, and participation in traineeships. In the empirical part of this research, our objective was to compare, using descriptive and bivariate statistical analysis, the behavior of the students of the ARA Groups and the regular ones, regarding a set of variables related to the above-mentioned predictors of employability. The outcomes allow us to conclude that ARA students performed academically better and that they participated more in international exchanges. Participation in business internships did not present significant differences, although ARA students scored higher in the employers’ assessment of the internship. Our results suggest that graduates of this program will be more sought-after by companies, and therefore it contributes positively to one of the key objectives of quality higher education, which is employability, and hence to sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
Open AccessArticle
Sustainability in Universities: DEA-GreenMetric
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3766; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143766 - 10 Jul 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Many universities are currently doing important work not only on environmental issues, but also on social and economic matters, thereby covering the three dimensions of sustainability. This paper used data envelopment analysis to construct a synthetic indicator based on the variables that make [...] Read more.
Many universities are currently doing important work not only on environmental issues, but also on social and economic matters, thereby covering the three dimensions of sustainability. This paper used data envelopment analysis to construct a synthetic indicator based on the variables that make up the UI GreenMetric. The aim was to quantify the contribution of universities to sustainability, rank all campuses accordingly, and evaluate specific aspects of their related institutional policies. First, cluster analysis was applied, yielding four homogeneous groups of universities. DEA was then applied to these clusters in order to construct the synthetic indicator. The proposed indicator, DEA-GreenMetric, revealed that the USA and the UK were the countries that were home to the greatest number of universities actively involved in all aspects of sustainability. In addition, this new index provides a complete ranking of universities, circumventing the issue of the duplicate scores assigned by UI GreenMetric. Finally, it can be seen that greater efforts are required for universities to improve their performance relating to environmental variables (energy, water use, and waste treatment) than to make improvements in infrastructure, transport, or education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promoting Sustainability in Higher Education)
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