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Special Issue "Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2021) | Viewed by 10449

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Aurélien Decamps
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Kedge Business School, Talence, France
Interests: education for sustainable development (ESD); sustainability literacy; sustainability in higher education
Mr. Benoit Martimort-Asso
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment
Interests: transformative change; sustainability
Dr. Carine Royer
E-Mail
Guest Editor
CY Cergy Paris Université, Cergy, France
Interests: learning; educational impact

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability and education are intertwined. In order to achieve the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need to empower citizens and future decision makers so that they are able to face these challenges and to act collectively toward a sustainable future. Specifically, SDG4 on Quality Education and its target 4.7 emphasizes the role of education for sustainable development (ESD): “by 2030 ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development...”. The 2015 Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4[1] sets out a new vision for education for the next fifteen years and highlights the lifelong learning approach.

As a key actor to empower future decision-makers throughout their carrier, higher education plays a crucial role in promoting a paradigm shift toward sustainable development by developing sustainability awareness and knowledge/skills and competences/mindset and behaviors. This paradigm shift requires a systemic vision that includes multiple nexuses between topics and challenges and allows analysis from the macro level of ecosystems and socioeconomic systems to the micro level of organizational and individual responsibility. A stronger continuity between higher education and further education is also needed to connect sustainability skills and competences to the job market and to enable future as well as current practitioners and decision makers to become agents of transition toward Sustainability.

Achieving the 2030 agenda also requires a transformative approach of higher education through teaching practices and learning experiences, research agenda and valorization, campus management, and leadership by exemplarity. Transforming higher education and further education to face the sustainability challenges is supported by international initiatives. By launching UN Higher Education Sustainability Initiatives (HESI) at Rio+20, 8 UN agencies and more than 300 higher education institutions recognize the need to have a unique interface between UN agencies and higher education institutions to scale up the impact of higher education to meet the 2030 agenda.  

Aim of the special issue

The aim of this Special Issue is twofold. Firstly, it seeks to highlight inspiring and/or innovative examples and best practices from higher education and further education, accelerating the paradigm shift toward sustainability. Secondly, this Special Issue seeks to identify leverage points to accelerate change in and through higher education and further education.

The scope of the contributions may deal with the macro level of institutional policies and national or international initiatives, the meso level of higher education institutions and campuses, as well as the micro level of individual knowledge, skills, mindset, and behaviors.   

We invite theoretical contributions as well as empirical contributions and applied and action-oriented research dealing with sustainability and higher education/further education.

Themes of interest include—but are not limited to—the following:

  • What can we learn from innovative practices and experiments of integrating sustainability in higher education and further education?
  • How can we increase awareness and literacy on SDGs in higher education and further education?
  • How can we develop competences and validate their acquisition:
    • Curriculum change (integrating the SDGs, learning objectives, etc.);
    • Learning experiences (active learning, peer learning, etc.);
    • Training the trainers;
  • How can we achieve a mindset shift in and through higher education and further education?
  • What behavior changes lead to sustainability?
  • What are the main drivers for sustainability change in higher education and further education?
  • What is the role of the assessment/ratings/rankings/accrediting bodies to accelerate sustainability transition in higher education and further education?
  • What is the role of national and international institutions?
  • What are the main obstacles preventing change?
  • How can we scale up the impact of higher education and further education toward sustainability?
  • How can we connect higher education and sustainable jobs/carrier opportunities?

Reference:

[1] https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000245656

Prof. Aurélien Decamps
Mr. Benoit Martimort-Asso
Dr. Carine Royer
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 2000 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

  • SDG learning
  • sustainability literacy
  • higher education and further education
  • sustainable change
  • mindset shift
  • sustainability competences

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Article
Fostering Knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals in Universities: The Case of Sulitest
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13215; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313215 - 29 Nov 2021
Viewed by 544
Abstract
Improving sustainability knowledge is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This article highlights the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) in fostering sustainable development knowledge in higher education institutions. The purpose of this study is to investigate the importance of collaboration and [...] Read more.
Improving sustainability knowledge is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This article highlights the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) in fostering sustainable development knowledge in higher education institutions. The purpose of this study is to investigate the importance of collaboration and stakeholder engagement for the adoption and impact of an MSP. The method is based on the case-study of Sulitest: an international MSP developing open online tools to raise and map sustainability literacy. Sulitest engages different stakeholders to co-develop and disseminate online tools according to the stakeholder context. Sulitest is also a data-provider for academic research investigating the advancement of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This study uses a sample of 61,376 students in 33 countries having taken the Sustainability Literacy Test between September 2016 and December 2018 to estimate the advancement of students’ knowledge and understanding of the 17 SDGs and their systemic nature. Factorial analysis allows to map the dimensions of sustainability literacy related to the level of engagement and collaboration in this MSP. The results show that active collaboration, stakeholder engagement, and membership in international networks act as important factors of adoption of this initiative. The analysis also highlights the role of exposure to education in order to enhance sustainability literacy and to develop a systemic perspective of sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda)
Article
Education for a Sustainable Future: Strategies for Holistic Global Competence Development at Engineering Institutions
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11184; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011184 - 11 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 722
Abstract
Higher education institutions (HEIs) must ensure that their graduates possess not only professional know-how, but also the global competence to address the challenges posed in the UN’s 2030 Agenda. This is especially relevant in engineering education, which plays an important role in sustainable [...] Read more.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) must ensure that their graduates possess not only professional know-how, but also the global competence to address the challenges posed in the UN’s 2030 Agenda. This is especially relevant in engineering education, which plays an important role in sustainable development. These competencies are typically thought to be developed in relation to institutions’ internationalisation efforts, but reports on how this is supposed to happen are often vague or built on wishful thinking. In this article, we describe a mixed-methods investigation into how holistic global competence development as a crucial aspect of sustainable education can be systematically enhanced in higher engineering education. Following a design-based research approach, connecting theoretical and practical insights from experts and stakeholders, we present here four dimensions of such an approach. Firstly, we discuss the setup, contents, and implementation of institutional guidelines as the crucial starting point of any internationalisation strategy aiming at integrating sustainable development education and global competence development. Secondly, we stress the role of institutional diversity, and show how institutions can foster inclusive and welcoming environments. Thirdly, we suggest strategies and approaches for global competence training for students, faculty, and staff, and highlight important background considerations for enabling global competence development. Fourthly, we emphasise the importance of assessing efforts to ensure that they live up to their potential and deliver the desired outcomes. The recommendations based on the investigation summarise key considerations that all HEIs—not just those focused on engineering education—must take into account as they strive for holistic global competence development, which is a key aspect of education for sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda)
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Article
How to Challenge University Students to Work on Integrated Reporting and Integrated Reporting Assurance
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 10761; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910761 - 28 Sep 2021
Viewed by 722
Abstract
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, society has become more sensitive to sustainability and to the consequences of companies’ activities. Furthermore, the demands for change in corporate reporting have led to the emergence of integrated reporting (IR) and an increase in the [...] Read more.
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, society has become more sensitive to sustainability and to the consequences of companies’ activities. Furthermore, the demands for change in corporate reporting have led to the emergence of integrated reporting (IR) and an increase in the disclosure of nonfinancial information assurance to ensure the compliance of integrated information. Universities need to embrace this challenge and be part of this change. This research’s goal is to enhance the diffusion of IR and integrated reporting assurance (IRA) in the curricula of universities by presenting a tool for professors and universities to help introduce the subjects in higher education institutions. The methodological approach develops a theoretical analysis of published IR and IRA articles related to education, to create a presentation of the challenge learning method (CLM) for professors and high education institutions to develop the subject of IRA to challenge students. Considering teaching experience as a value-added component to research the proposed method comes from the teaching experience of the authors. The result consists of a method that can increase accounting academics knowledge of IR and IRA and motivate students to study these emerging accounting practices. This study contributes to the extant literature on IR, IRA and Education that is scarce, the use of appropriate teaching methods to IR and IRA, and the dissemination of IR and IRA in education by providing a better connection between the universities and the best practices of corporate reporting and auditing. This study leads to an increase in the connection among higher education institutions, professors, students, practitioners, auditors, regulators, standard setters, and society in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda)
Article
Competence-Oriented, Data-Driven Approach for Sustainable Development in University-Level Education
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9977; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179977 - 06 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 810
Abstract
Higher education has a number of key roles to play in accelerating progress toward sustainability goals. It has a responsibility to provide and teach curricula that are tailored to labor market needs, to help change people’s attitudes and motivation toward sustainability, and to [...] Read more.
Higher education has a number of key roles to play in accelerating progress toward sustainability goals. It has a responsibility to provide and teach curricula that are tailored to labor market needs, to help change people’s attitudes and motivation toward sustainability, and to reduce inequalities between different students. Course leaders and developers of curricula should monitor and assess these needs in order to improve their curricula from time to time. In the present work, we describe a data-driven approach based on text-mining techniques to identify the competences required for a given position based on job advertisements. To demonstrate the usefulness of our suggested method, the supply chain management occupation was selected as the supply chain is a constantly changing domain that is highly affected by green activities and initiatives, and the COVID-19 pandemic strongly influenced this sector, as well. This data-driven process allowed the identification of required soft and hard skills contained in job descriptions. However, it was found that some important concepts of green supply chain management, such as repair and refurbishment, were only marginally mentioned in the job advertisements. Therefore, in addition to labor market expectations, a business process model from relevant green supply chain management literature was developed to complement the required competences. The given new techniques can support the paradigm shift toward sustainable development and help curriculum developers and decision makers assess labor market needs in the area of sustainability skills and competences. The given result can serve as an input of outcome-based training development to design learning objective-based teaching materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda)
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Article
A Case Study on Emerging Learning Pathways in SDG-Focused Engineering Studies through Applying CBL
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8495; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158495 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1033
Abstract
Recently, a growing number of Higher Education institutions have started to implement challenge-based learning (CBL) in study processes. However, despite the growing Higher Education attention to challenge-based learning, research on the method, especially in Engineering education, has not been extensively conducted and made [...] Read more.
Recently, a growing number of Higher Education institutions have started to implement challenge-based learning (CBL) in study processes. However, despite the growing Higher Education attention to challenge-based learning, research on the method, especially in Engineering education, has not been extensively conducted and made publicly available to the community of researchers and teaching practitioners. To bridge this gap, this paper provides a case analysis of implementing challenge-based learning in a Master’s degree program for engineering students, aiming to highlight the main aspects of combining challenge-based learning and Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11), namely sustainable cities and communities. The findings are consistent with previous CBL studies revealing positive benefits of implementing the method; however, the paper adds novelty by showcasing the learning pathways that emerge to learners and teachers when CBL is implemented in an SDG-11-focused course. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda)
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Article
Reflective Practice in Times of Covid-19: A Tool to Improve Education for Sustainable Development in Pre-Service Teacher Training
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6261; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116261 - 01 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1428
Abstract
Crisis situations such as the current Covid-19 pandemic are a catalyst for change. This study stresses the need to work towards achieving quality education, and to prepare future teachers in sustainability competencies. The research questions are related to the key competencies necessary to [...] Read more.
Crisis situations such as the current Covid-19 pandemic are a catalyst for change. This study stresses the need to work towards achieving quality education, and to prepare future teachers in sustainability competencies. The research questions are related to the key competencies necessary to accelerate change and to how to increase awareness and literacy of the SDGs in higher education. A quantitative methodology aimed at improving the training of future teachers who engage in reflective and critical thinking was used. Data were gathered on the level of reflection of students from three Spanish universities. The instrument used, the Reflective Practice Questionnaire, includes concepts defined in the literature related to reflective capacity such as Reflection in Action, Reflection on Action and Reflection with Others. The results of the study provide quantitative data showing a positive impact of reflective practice on future teachers. Education for sustainable development requires participatory methods that motivate and empower students to change their behaviour. Reflective practice must be accompanied by processes of communication and supervision that encourage confidence and the desire to improve. Training future teachers in reflective practice should be a differentiating element to achieve quality education, allowing adaptation to current and future adverse situations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda)
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Article
Classroom Walls and City Hall: Mobilizing Local Partnerships to Advance the Sustainable Development Agenda
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6173; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116173 - 31 May 2021
Viewed by 1340
Abstract
This roundtable discussion raises and responds to the question: What can be learned from academic and local government partnerships to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? We draw on several years of cooperation between the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles (CA, [...] Read more.
This roundtable discussion raises and responds to the question: What can be learned from academic and local government partnerships to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? We draw on several years of cooperation between the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles (CA, USA) and academic institutions on how to best advance and integrate the United Nations’ SDGs into policy. Stakeholders from this project give voice to varying perspectives across roles—as city officials, academic partners, graduate and undergraduate students—in the Los Angeles case of SDG implementation. The article outlines a “Task Force” model, under the joint facilitation of faculty advisors and guidance of city partners, that promotes students’ experiential learning, and meaningfully bridges theory and practice in bringing global frameworks to local practice. We highlight what we gain by disaggregating the local and taking space and place seriously in sustainability policy, while underscoring the importance of long-term trust and relationship building in the success of local sustainability efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda)
Article
Education for Sustainable Development and Innovation in Engineering School: Students’ Perception
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6002; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116002 - 26 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1005
Abstract
This article is the continuation of the work that has already been completed in a first study on the perception of engineering students at UniLaSalle Beauvais about education for sustainable development (SD) and innovation. Its purpose is to show the evolution over time [...] Read more.
This article is the continuation of the work that has already been completed in a first study on the perception of engineering students at UniLaSalle Beauvais about education for sustainable development (SD) and innovation. Its purpose is to show the evolution over time of the perception of engineering students regarding SD and innovation after integrating the international program called “Go-LaSalle”. In this training process, students spend the first semester of their third academic year in partner universities of the worldwide Lasallian network. To identify and measure the change of students’ perception, we have designed a survey that was sent to two engineers’ training classes (specialties) Agronomy and Agro-Industries and Food and Health. The results show that although some differences and similarities appear between the two specialties, there are few significant changes on student’s perception before and after the six-month international program (called “Go-LaSalle”). Finally, the study shows, on the one hand, that the students trust the institution, the companies and their teachers more than their own inclinations; on the other hand, it allows the institution to adapt their training to both collective needs and the demands of the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda)
Article
Rurality and Dropout in Virtual Higher Education Programmes in Colombia
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4953; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094953 - 28 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1002
Abstract
As part of the 2030 Agenda, higher education has been conceptualised as one of the ways to overcome the social disparities experienced in rural areas in Colombia. Thus, in concordance with the benefits of this level of education, the state has been designing [...] Read more.
As part of the 2030 Agenda, higher education has been conceptualised as one of the ways to overcome the social disparities experienced in rural areas in Colombia. Thus, in concordance with the benefits of this level of education, the state has been designing public policies during the last few years, in order to facilitate access to undergraduate programmes to these populations, focusing mainly on the implementation of the virtual modality. In this context, it is recognised that access itself is not enough, but that continuance and timely graduation are required to materialise the benefits obtained along with a higher education degree; hence, dropout is a subject of interest for study, especially due to the high rates existing in the rural student population. Therefore, the event of dropout becomes an obstacle to social change and transformation in rural areas. Thus, this article aimed to identify which individual, institutional, academic and socio-economic characteristics influence rural student dropout in virtual undergraduate programmes in Colombia. For this purpose, an exploratory, quantitative and cross-sectional study was proposed, with a sample of 291 students to whom a student characterisation instrument and a classroom evaluation instrument were applied. With these data, it was proceeded to establish which of them had deserted, constituting the extraction of the sample of the study, which were 168. With the information, an exploratory factor analysis, hierarchical cluster analysis and descriptive statistics were used to establish which explanatory variables are involved in the dropout of this type of student. The results showed that the academic variables analysed do not have an impact on the event, while marital status (associated with family obligations), age, social stratum, work obligations, parents’ level of education and type of work, income and type of employment relationship of the student, and, finally, the number of people who depend on the family’s income do. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mobilizing Higher Education for the 2030 Agenda)
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