The university and transformation towards sustainability

John Holmberg (Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)
Ulrika Lundqvist (Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)
Magdalena Svanström (Chemical Environmental Science, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)
Marie Arehag (Chalmers Learning Centre, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 6 July 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the strategy used for achieving change towards sustainability at Chalmers University of Technology (Chalmers). Examples of how this strategy has been used are described and discussed, and exemplified with different lines of activities in a project on Education for Sustainable Development, the ESD project.

Design/methodology/approach

The strategy consists of three important building blocks: Create a neutral arena; Build on individual engagement and involvement; and Communicate a clear commitment from the management team. The analysis is made along three different lines of activities in the ESD project: The work to improve the quality of the compulsory courses on sustainable development; The efforts to integrate ESD into educational programmes; and The work to collect and spread information on good teaching practices within ESD. Some other related examples where the strategy has been applied are also presented.

Findings

The ESD project functioned as a neutral arena since it was not placed at any specific department but rather engaged participants from many departments. This neutral arena has been important, for example, to increase the willingness of teachers to share their good teaching examples. The process was successful in creating a shared responsibility and for starting learning processes in many individuals by the involvement of a broad range of educational actors at Chalmers. The strong and clear commitment from the management team has worked as a driving force.

Originality/value

This paper can provide valuable input to universities that struggle with change processes.

Keywords

Citation

Holmberg, J., Lundqvist, U., Svanström, M. and Arehag, M. (2012), "The university and transformation towards sustainability", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 219-231. https://doi.org/10.1108/14676371211242544

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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