Higher education's sustainability imperative: how to practically respond?

Kevin J. Krizek (College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Dave Newport (Environmental Center, University of Colorado, Boulder Boulder, Colorado, USA)
James White (Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Alan R. Townsend (Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 6 January 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe four phases for how universities have addressed a sustainability agenda and offer specific lessons for how and where experiences on one campus, the University of Colorado Boulder, have been met with success and other challenges. The authors offer general reflections for executing university‐wide sustainability initiatives with a central intent of illuminating central barriers against, and incentives for, a coordinated and integrated approach to campus sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach for arriving at four phases and a description of the University of Colorado Boulder is based on experiences from learning, teaching, and administering within universities–collectively for almost a century among the authors–and lessons from “war room” discussions.

Findings

Sustainability initiatives on campus may evolve through a series of phases labeled: grassroots; executive acceptance of the business case for sustainability; the visionary campus leader; and fully self‐actualized and integrated campus community. The University of Colorado Boulder, while a leader in many respects of sustainability (research, student activities, facilities management) has experienced serious challenges for coordination.

Originality/value

The four phases are a relatively novel contribution for the specific literature on sustainability education. Second, the tangible examples from University of Colorado Boulder demonstrate how coordination is difficult in these situations; these examples allow readers to better relate to and understand such challenges. Finally, the authors reflect on central issues according to three categories: self‐reflection, recommendations, and advantages.

Keywords

Citation

Kevin J. Krizek, Dave Newport, James White and Alan R. Townsend (2012) "Higher education's sustainability imperative: how to practically respond?", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 19-33

Download as .RIS

DOI

: https://doi.org/10.1108/14676371211190281

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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