Introduction to Sustainable Development Leadership and Strategies in Higher Education: Volume 22

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(16 chapters)


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Part I: Pedagogical Approaches


Today’s society is plagued with a myriad of sustainability-related issues such as poverty, climate change, environmental disasters, shrinking biodiversity, eroding of potential food-producing systems, disease and choking urban population. The nature of the problems requires societies to work collectively to find a solution to end such issues. Research is needed along with a supportive, functional and cohesive leadership across disciplines, sectors and organizations. Sustainability is the strategic imperative that one cannot keep ignoring any longer and time has come to build the momentum toward excellence, quality and reengineering. Institutions of higher education should work as equal partners in this journey toward sustainable development. World’s leading international agencies are promoting and stimulating the intellectual debate toward incorporating sustainability in main stream education with the help of thought leaders. The effort will help learners to take informed decision and responsibility toward creating environmental integrity and economic welfare for all. This volume talks about innovative pedagogy and learning methods that address the current scenario and offer solutions to meet them. The case studies and approaches written by various authors from Malaysia to Australia talk about curriculum development and integrating sustainability with the core philosophy of the university. The authors have elaborated how leadership education needs to innovate for dealing with the current sustainability challenges. This volume is topical and comes at the right time when there is a heightened interest in sustainability education across the globe.


This chapter discusses the findings of a study at a public university in Malaysia, which reflect the country’s evolving situation regarding sustainability education. The study aimed to explore the knowledge of and attitudes to sustainability of the academic staff at the university, and the pedagogical approaches they used in curricula. Through a mixed method approach, primary data were collected through an online quantitative survey containing 90 statements related to Education for Sustainable Development Goals, knowledge, attitudes, pedagogical techniques, and learning objectives. Following the survey, a focus group discussion was conducted involving several academic staff from the university to explore their perspectives on current sustainability teaching practices and to identify emerging issues. Findings revealed that there were generally positive levels of understandings and attitudes among the academic staff toward education on sustainability development (ESD). Furthermore, the staff agreed highly with ESD learning objectives, and various pedagogical approaches were in use. These are important findings as the levels of awareness and attitudes among academics play a key role in shaping successful implementation of a range of pedagogical techniques for ESD goals. As well as the challenges identified in the study, the chapter puts forward useful insights and key aspects to enhance ESD practices at all levels in the country. Options for policy and practice to move beyond sustainable development as a goal or aspiration for teaching and learning to a practical and pedagogical reality of ESD practices in Malaysian higher education institutions are also discussed.


Since the financial crisis, there has been ongoing debate about market weaknesses and the training of tomorrow’s business leaders. Leadership education must tackle difficult global, technical, and ethical challenges. In this chapter, the author wishes to clarify how teaching institutions must innovate to deal with these problems and contribute to a sustainable future. First, the author will identify a conceptual framework for both leadership and education. The definition of leadership in entrepreneurship and management includes the notion that real leaders must create something new and lead their followers into an innovative future.

According to the humanist ideal, leaders should learn to be autonomous, rational, and responsible persons with creative personalities. After this discussion, the author will compare these findings with the content of various highly ranked leadership programs. The author will show that they do not impart real-world information and that the skills they do promote are largely theoretical. Their programs should place more importance on ethics as well as on globalism. Neither critical thinking nor an emphasis on technology or international focus is included. Instead of helping students become creative personalities, most business schools focus on career goals. The author concludes that leadership education must be transformed to bring forth innovative leaders who think sustainably.


This chapter explores sustainable development of leadership strategies as a social framework in higher education to help with defining, implementing, and envisioning a sustainable future. Leaders need to develop a sustainable approach for higher education that involves all stakeholders who benefit from having educated citizens to develop common interests that develop and promote sustainable objectives that focus on shared values. An educationally sustainable approach extends beyond a current leader’s time at the institution to continue stable growth and long-term approaches around making decisions, fostering systemic innovation, developing an engaged workforce, and providing quality services and solutions. Leaders need to link sustainable strategies to the school’s mission, values, and finances to help gain consensus and align the decision-making process. In an effort to develop leaders and programs around educational sustainability, governmental organizations have been established to help develop policies and programs to create a sustainable future. Additionally, professional organizations have formed that allow leaders a chance to connect, grow skills, and lead sustainability initiatives. And, higher education institutions have created offices focused around sustainability on campus and educational programs around sustainability leadership to help develop future leaders that are able to take action based on sustainability values and creating an inclusive and reflective process for decision-making. Sustainable leadership has the power to transform society through reorienting the educational system to help people develop knowledge, skills, values, and behaviors for an ever-changing world.


When two regional institutes of technology merged in 2016, it created a singular opportunity for disruption to business-as-usual and for organizational transformation. The new entity’s strategic intent is to be regionally relevant, learner-centric, sustainable, and innovative in delivery. Overarching all these considerations is an emphasis on relationships with our community, and demonstrating leadership in the re-positioning of culture at the heart of everything we do. Aotearoa New Zealand is a nation that prides itself on our dual heritage (Māori and European), and the way in which this is reflected in all public sectors in a commitment to a contemporary, bi-cultural framework. The core principles of partnership, protection and participation (Ministry of Justice, 2016) are the means by which legislation, public policies, and curriculum development should be judged. Yet Māori educational achievement lags behind that of non-Māori by 9.5% in degree completions (Marriott & Sim, 2014). Boosting achievement of Māori is a key government priority (Tertiary Education Commission, 2016) and organizational imperative.This chapter describes our cultural milieu and institutional vision, discusses the ways in which core values from Māori culture have informed curriculum development, and offers a pathway toward organizational sustainability. We outline how these different ways of thinking are being communicated to our students, staff, partners, and stakeholders, and how we expect to add value to the learning experience, and relevance to our own society and the wider global community. We emphasize that leadership and strategies directed toward sustainability, must and should begin with an understanding of organizational cultural identity - who we are, where we stand, and what we stand for.


Transformative learning experiences can expand individual personal and professional capacity. In this work, the meaning and significance of individual growth is viewed through the lens of public value, focusing on the connection between person and place. This chapter details how Nuffield International Farming Scholars perceive public value contributions stemming from their individual development and subsequent engagement in civic life and community development. Voices of program participants provide insight on capacity building experiences as part of sustainable community development efforts, and how perceived outcomes for individuals such as professional and personal benefits, post-program engagement, and a sense of reciprocity are motivators leading to public value contribution.


This chapter suggests a perspective on dealing with the future as dealing with uncertainty, which necessitates an alteration of the current learning paradigm and the adoption of a model that, not only accommodates, but also anticipates and embraces diversity, variety, and differences in knowledge. It calls for a model that moves beyond pre-determined content and learned solutions to seeding creativity and cultivating improvization. It approaches education as lifelong learning, as necessarily transformative, creative and authentic. It posits that dealing with the uncertainties of the future requires the acquisition of skills of mitigation and improvization that anticipate, not only mitigate; but to acquire the ability to see and create opportunities out of uncertainty. It endeavors to explore the ways by which higher education can address the need for facing the uncertainties of the future and the complexity of the sustainability challenges.

Part II: Framework and Tools


This chapter discusses the pilot study of an Education for Sustainable Development Self-Evaluation Tool (ESD-SET), created by the Quality Enhancement Directorate (formerly the Learning and Teaching Development Unit) at Cardiff Metropolitan University, as both a means of auditing the extent to which academic programs embed ESD and a catalyst for curriculum development.

The chapter evaluates the effectiveness and usefulness of the self-evaluation for both auditing ESD and curriculum development. Responses to the self-evaluation questions by Programme Directors were analyzed and follow-up interviews carried out with the Programme Directors to explore their experiences of the tool.

Results indicate that the self-evaluation tool is fit-for-purpose as a means of auditing the integration of ESD within academic programs. The self-evaluation exercise promoted team discussion around sustainability issues and raised staff awareness and understanding of the concept of ESD and how to effectively embed sustainability-related themes within their discipline. The exercise had a transformative impact on the way some program teams approached curriculum design and delivery. There was evidence that engagement with the tool contributed to further embedding of sustainability within curricula across all disciplines involved in the pilot study.


The future of education as we know it is rapidly transforming, aided and abetted by the accelerating technological changes as well as economic and social changes occurring worldwide. To ensure sustainability, higher education institutions are compelled to prepare graduates for jobs, and work with technologies, that are yet to be created. Specialists and experts are calling on universities to be agile and respond to serve the needs of changing societies and the evolving world around us. According to the Ernst & Young (EY) (2018) report, “Can the universities of today lead learning for tomorrow?,” Australia is reported to be a world leader in higher education contributing about $30 billion annually to the GDP of the nation, although learning demands are shifting to primarily new exemplars (Cawood, 2018). The EY report affirms that a university prototype embedded in a teaching and research model with “a large asset base and cumbersome back office- would prove to be unviable in the future” (Cawood, 2018, p. 4).

This chapter will highlight how institutions are forging new partnerships and creating new models of delivery in different locations to meet learner needs in context and remain sustainable in the future. It will discuss the embedding of sustainability models in the curriculum, elaborate on the approaches taken to deliver active learning experiences that foster collaboration, and expand on integrating technology in learning for interactive engagements.


This chapter presents a reflective study on the role of leadership in curriculum changes in Indonesian higher education. It was based on case studies carried out in 2012 and 2014 at Politeknik Negeri Jember (POLIJE), a vocational higher education institution (HEI) that was selected by the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education of Indonesia as a pilot project implementation of the newly established Indonesian Qualification Framework. It describes the theoretical and contextual background of the study that was inseparable with the growing concern on globalization, internationalization, and democratization of HEIs worldwide. Meanwhile, curriculum changes since 1961 demonstrated the dynamic of the curriculum, which signified either the development of national education or instabilities in the individual HEIs. These signify the breadth, depth, and the contexts of ESD curriculum development in Indonesian HEIs, which confronted the leaders or managers with the complexity. This requires effective functions related to the change strategy and shared roles between the top and middle leaders in coping with the leadership, managerial, and academic issues within an interdisciplinary setting. In this top-down change, the intention to adopt the transformational leadership model was obvious in the level of top leaders, while in the middle leadership, practices were less hierarchical. The leaders both in the top and the middle levels had complemented to each other with low attention on the notion of organizational learning. In light of sustainable education, the notion of organizational learning gives the foundation for successful change and sustainable organizational development. It is because the best performance of an institution will strongly be influenced by the quality of investment in the capacity development of both the leaders and staff.


This chapter discusses a new understanding of how leadership is performed and internalized, from which a sustainable model of supporting and promoting educational leadership at the institutional level can be developed. It focuses on what is actually happening in an institution to capture “leadership” in an English higher education institution (HEI). It considers leadership in the context of a continuous professional development route for Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) at a Post-1960 English HEI. HEA Fellowship and the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) are increasingly used within British HEIs to support the professional formation of university teachers. The SFHEA is an internationally recognized accreditation for experienced university staff (academics/support/administrative) able to provide evidence of a sustained record of effectiveness in their practice, incorporating leadership of specific aspects of teaching and learning provision. Participants are evaluated against the criteria and dimensions of practice set by the UKPSF (UK Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education), which identifies the areas of competence that need to be demonstrated to achieve Descriptor 3, Senior Fellow. In the UK, it is increasingly the case that HE teacher development programs for new and experienced staff are accredited by the HEA against the UKPSF (Land & Gordon, 2015). There is a dearth of literature on program leadership and sustainable leadership in higher education. This chapter is, therefore, particularly timely and suggests that continuing professional development programs “model” good practice, which participants transfer to their own teaching.


Corporate governance (CG), initially associated with private organizations, has been adopted by higher education institutions (HEIs). These are being managed more as firms in this post-standardization phase, in which the commercialization of higher education, competition and selective choice, finite resources and sustainable development (SD) have become major requirements for accountability and action. Principles of CG can collaborate and guide the process of making universities sustainable. The chapter analyses the effects of CG on the creation of a culture of sustainability in universities. In doing so, it analyzes the websites of public HEIs in EU-15 countries for a set of social responsibility indicators and investigates the impact and practices of two young Portuguese universities regarding United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The results point out that CG and SD principles tend to guide the strategy of most public HEIs in the EU-15, confirming that they have made a commitment to good governance and sustainability.

Name Index

Pages 203-209
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Subject Index

Pages 211-214
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Cover of Introduction to Sustainable Development Leadership and Strategies in Higher Education
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Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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