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Governance implications of the UN higher education sustainability initiative

Christopher J. Moon (Middlesex University, London, UK)
Andreas Walmsley (Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK)
Nikolaos Apostolopoulos (Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Publication date: 6 August 2018



This paper aims to review the progress of a sample of (n = 307) signatories in the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative which commits higher education institutions (HEIs) to make smart commitments to achieve one or more of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).


A preliminary survey of n = 307 HEIs via online questionnaire and database search was conducted.


Findings reveal a difference between HEI governance, that is “instrumental”, and governance, that is “holistic”, in relation to sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

Implications identified for achieving SDGs in general and for academic–business partnerships, in particular.

Practical implications

Practical implications for enterprise (developing a tool to measure sustainability mindset) and for enterprise education (sharing of best practices from other HEIs).

Social implications

Improved understanding of the sustainability mindset will inform decisions about approaches to governing and operationalising sustainability in organisations.


The survey is not original but the emphasis on sustainability mindset (compassion, empathy and connectedness to SDGs) is.



Moon, C.J., Walmsley, A. and Apostolopoulos, N. (2018), "Governance implications of the UN higher education sustainability initiative", Corporate Governance, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 624-634.



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