To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Promoting sustainable development implementation in higher education: Universities in South Africa

Bankole Awuzie (Department of Built Environment, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa)
Fidelis Emuze (Department of Built Environment, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 6 November 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to review the zeal exhibited by universities in South Africa towards aligning institutional mandates of teaching, learning, research and community engagement to the sustainable development (SD) agenda. The implementation of the SD agenda across higher education institutions (HEIs) continues to draw attention from the wider society. This is because HEIs are increasingly being looked up to for leadership in this regard. However, although several studies are quick to identify various factors which have driven the adoption of sustainable practices in HEIs, the paucity of studies seeking to identify the drivers for SD implementation remains glaring. This is particularly so in developing countries like South Africa.

Design/methodology/approach

To confirm the exploratory data from desktop study on public university engagement with sustainability in South Africa, a single case study was conducted in the Central University of Technology (CUT). The single case study design adopted semi-structured interviews and document reviews as data collection techniques. Purposive snowballing sampling technique was strictly adhered to in the selection of interviewees. Interviewees were selected on the basis of their roles in the implementation of the CUT’s sustainability agenda.

Findings

Data emanating from these interviews were analysed thematically using qualitative content analysis. Although a plethora of drivers were identified, there appeared to be a consensus between most of the interviewees that the quest for cost reduction remained the most significant driver for the viable implementation of the sustainability agenda at CUT.

Research limitations/implications

It is expected that findings from this study would provide a platform for the development of effective implementation strategies in South African HEIs. Also, the findings contribute to filing the extant gap observed concerning implementation and drivers for engendering SD implementation in HEIs in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region.

Practical implications

By highlighting the drivers for SD implementation, this study contributes to the development of a more receptive social ontology among various stakeholders in an HEI towards the agenda, particularly within the SSA context where there is low level of awareness and buy-in by these stakeholders.

Originality/value

This study makes an original contribution to the research base of SD in HEIs and implementation.

Keywords

Citation

Awuzie, B. and Emuze, F. (2017), "Promoting sustainable development implementation in higher education: Universities in South Africa", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 18 No. 7, pp. 1176-1190. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-09-2016-0167

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited