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Proposal for a model integrating sustainability and social innovation in higher education institutions

Mariana Alvarenga (Centre for Sustainable Development/Research Group on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (GREENS), University of Southern Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Florianópolis, Brazil)
Ana Regina Aguiar Dutra (Centre for Sustainable Development/Research Group on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (GREENS), University of Southern Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Florianópolis, Brazil)
Felipe Fernandez (University of Southern Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Florianópolis, Brazil)
Ricardo Lemos Thomé (University of Southern Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Florianópolis, Brazil)
Ivone Junges (Centre for Sustainable Development/Research Group on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (GREENS), University of Southern Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Florianópolis, Brazil)
Nei Nunes (University of Southern Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Florianópolis, Brazil)
José Baltazar Salgueirinho Osório de Andrade Guerra (Centre for Sustainable Development/Research Group on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (GREENS), University of Southern Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Florianópolis, Brazil and Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance, (CEENRG), University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 1 December 2022

22

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to propose an integrated model involving concepts of sustainability and social innovation (SI) in higher education institutions (HEIs).

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a literature review, the authors were able to systematize sustainability and SI knowledge, in an integrated manner. Hence, the authors sought to develop a theoretical model that would integrate categories, indicators and sub-indicators, to review initiatives in HEIs in the sustainability and SI domains. The results indicated four major categories: mission, vision and values; curriculum; campus; and healthy environment. The integrated model was applied and validated in a Brazilian educational group, using the main corporate reports as data sources.

Findings

For the educational group analyzed in this study, the themes of sustainability and SI are explicitly and implicitly expressed in the mission, vision and values category. In the curriculum category, these themes are presented through the contents of cross-disciplines in all undergraduate courses, and also through outreach activities, integrating sustainability and SI in a theoretical and/or practical way. Regarding the campus category, the mention is explicit and the HEI works with initiatives aimed at achieving a “green” campus. In the healthy environment category, the educational group studied gives priority to the establishment of a safe and healthy work environment, focusing on labor rights and relations with society.

Originality/value

This work contributes to the advancement of research on the promotion of sustainability and SI in HEIs, proposing an innovative integrated model of analysis for the topics covered.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was conducted by the Centre for Sustainable Development (Greens), from the University of Southern Santa Catarina (Unisul) and Ânima Institute – AI, in the context of the project BRIDGE – Building Resilience in a Dynamic Global Economy: Complexity across scales in the Brazilian Food-Water-Energy Nexus; funded by the Newton Fund, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa e Inovação do Estado de Santa Catarina (FAPESC), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível superior (CAPES), National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK).

Citation

Alvarenga, M., Aguiar Dutra, A.R., Fernandez, F., Thomé, R.L., Junges, I., Nunes, N. and Guerra, J.B.S.O.d.A. (2022), "Proposal for a model integrating sustainability and social innovation in higher education institutions", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-07-2021-0301

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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