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Putting sustainable campuses into force: Empowering students, staff and academics by the self-efficacy Green Office Model

Maik Adomßent (Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany)
Anselm Grahl (Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany)
Felix Spira (rootAbility gemeinnützige uG, Berlin, Germany)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 8 May 2019

Issue publication date: 10 July 2019




The lack of change structures can be seen as an important reason why sustainability continues to suffer a niche existence in most higher education organisations. This is a problem because universities can leverage their teaching, research and operations to advance solutions to climate change, hunger and other Sustainable Development Goals. The purpose of this study is to highlight the vital importance of self-efficacy approaches, in particular the Green Office (GO) Model that aims to strengthen collaboration among all members of higher education communities and provides inspiration for what a sustainability office on campus might look like.


The research presented follows a two-step methodology. First, the peculiarities and commonalities of already existing GOs were analysed to better understand drivers and barriers for their institutionalisation. Building on this, a peer-to-peer digital training programme was developed and tested, aiming to provide students, staff and academics with knowledge and skills to establish more sustainability offices and improve the work of existing ones.


Research revealed three main obstacles for the dissemination of the GO model: lack of adaptation of international experiences to other university contexts, missing educational offers and a limited scope of public relations. The findings adduce proof that GO provides a replicable model that can be both adapted to different university contexts and scaled internationally.

Research limitations/implications

This research has been limited by the availability and ability to procure information from the sampled universities’ actors beyond the close GO community.


This case study presents an original research and development undertaking that was realised in a unique collaboration between a non-profit, student-initiated social business and an academic institution.



This research was supported and funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, DBU) under the grant number 33671/01.


Adomßent, M., Grahl, A. and Spira, F. (2019), "Putting sustainable campuses into force: Empowering students, staff and academics by the self-efficacy Green Office Model", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 470-481.



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