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Exploring the living learning laboratory: An approach to strengthen campus sustainability initiatives by using sustainability science approach

Irina Safitri Zen (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of Built Environment, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Malaysia)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 4 September 2017




The paper aims to explore and analyse the potential of campus living learning laboratory (LLL) as an integrated mechanism to provide the innovative and creative teaching and learning experiences, robust research output and strengthening the campus sustainability initiatives by using the sustainability science approach.


The challenge to adopt sustainability science as an interdisciplinary approach juxtaposed against the structure, teaching and learning of single disciplinary approach in institution of higher education (IHE). The LLL approach can be one of the options on how the integrative teaching and learning, combination fundamental and applied research and campus operations should conduct to strengthen the implementation of campus sustainability.


The review of application of LLL from several campus sustainability and combining with the experiences in conducting the UTM Campus sustainability results the strategic operational mechanism of the integration process.

Research limitations/implications

The LLL approach which applies the sustainability science approach did not cover the challenges and issue related to the inter-, inter- and trans-disciplinary during the campus LLL application. Further study needs to be conducted to strengthen the fundamental approach to developing campus LLL as one approach to operationalizing the Sustainable Development agenda in IHE.

Practical implications

The experiences and findings produces from this study help other campus sustainability to articulate the benefits of campus LLL initiatives, anticipate implementation challenges in teaching and learning, research output and the operation. The problem-solving nature of sustainability science provides a platform for implementing campus sustainability initiatives which allow inter-, inter- and trans-disciplinary approach for a more synergize effort of a real case study and project based approach.

Social implications

Furthermore, the implementation of LLL challenges the researcher/academia to provide prompt response as part of societal learning process in strengthening applied-based research as well as to contribute to the fundamental research. Successful LLL approach require both top-down commitments from the top management of the university and bottom-up drive from interested faculty, core research themes, operations and students.


The integrative framework and operational mechanism to operate LLL in campus sustainability which resulted from the analysis taken from several universities that implement campus sustainability is the origin values of significant contribution from this study.



The study was conducted as part of the collaborative reserah project between Malaysia Research University Network (MRUN) and Innovative Research Universirty (IRU) Australia with a title “A Campus Living Laboratory: A Transformative and Integrative Approach to Strengthen Sustainability Practices in Institution of Higher Education (IHE)” and the Vot No is 00M88. It is also part of the Flagship Reserach Grant ‘Development of Campus Sustainability Index’ by Ministry of Education, Malaysia with a Vot. No. 01G47.


Zen, I.S. (2017), "Exploring the living learning laboratory: An approach to strengthen campus sustainability initiatives by using sustainability science approach", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 939-955.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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