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Environmental sustainability out of the loop in Lebanese universities

Mireille Chidiac El Hajj (Department of Economics and Business, Universite Libanaise, Beirut, Lebanon)
Richard Abou Moussa (Universite Libanaise, Beirut, Lebanon)
May Chidiac (Notre Dame University Louaize, Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon)

Journal of International Education in Business

ISSN: 2046-469X

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




Education is foundational for creating caring sustainable leaders and organizations. This paper aims to investigate whether historically eminent Lebanese universities are integrating sustainability courses and practices in their curriculum, and to discern whether these universities’ administrators are currently providing, or plan to provide, positive educational experience through addressing sustainability concepts and tools in their respective universities.


The authors based their qualitative study on a multimodal design for explorative and recommendation purposes. The review of literature and online search facilitated setting standards and benchmarking. Face-to-face interviews and observation corroborated the findings and provided insight. The information was systematically ordered to tackle sustainability as a product and as a process on different campuses. All research was subject to ethical clearance from the studied subjects.


Compiling the input from all participants revealed that there is an urgent need to reform universities’ products and processes, in addition to a necessary call for support from governmental entities. The seeds of environmental sustainability are present in varying degrees in universities that have been continuously functional in the service of higher education in Lebanon for a period of 50 years or more.

Research limitations/implications

The lack of contextual, comprehensive models, toward which change can be geared, presents a limitation to this work. Another limitation is that this study was restricted to historically prominent universities with the valid assumption that they play a leadership role in higher education. More universities should be investigated to further validate the findings, to complement this project and to allow for generalizability and comparison with initial findings.

Practical implications

More focus is needed to prepare present students and the future community to rely on available resources. The paper outlines the need to change the educational approach in Lebanese universities. It addresses a call to the administrators of all universities to provide the right policies, tools, materials and other resources to help sustainability.

Social implications

Universities are called to play a major role especially in inspiring and teaching sustainability concepts. It is worth noting that education can be seen as a social good. If education is well served, it can create jobs, generate high revenues and raise standards of living. But serving the education “well” may require disruption of the status quo, which, if done creatively, will lead to novel approaches and solutions that outweigh the disruption itself.


This paper has exposed the status quo of universities vis-à-vis sustainability, but it has also challenged “what is”, and opened up possibilities of what “could be”. Educational projects should be adapted with the participation of the private sector to stimulate innovation, and experience the lived dimension of sustainability. Implementing such a change represents the bridge between current and needed ways of thinking required by the new environment.



Chidiac El Hajj, M., Abou Moussa, R. and Chidiac, M. (2017), "Environmental sustainability out of the loop in Lebanese universities", Journal of International Education in Business, Vol. 10 No. 01, pp. 49-67.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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