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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2023

Marina Duarte, Sandra Sofia Caeiro, Carla Sofia Farinha, Ana Moreira, Margarida Santos-Reis, Constança Rigueiro and João Simão

This study aims to explore the alignment between strategic plans of the Portuguese public higher education institutions (HEIs) and their perception of the integration of…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the alignment between strategic plans of the Portuguese public higher education institutions (HEIs) and their perception of the integration of sustainability in education and curricula.

Design/methodology/approach

The strategic plans from 15 institutions were selected for content analysis; data about the integration of sustainability in education and curricula, from these HEI, were collected with an online questionnaire (self-report survey). Qualitative and quantitative analyses were performed.

Findings

Strategic plans of the Portuguese public HEIs seem to not be sufficiently aligned with self-assessment integration of sustainability in education and curricula.

Research limitations/implications

The classifications used in the content analysis were constructed and revised by the authors to reduce coder interpretation issues and subsequent bias in the results. However, some subjectivity could remain. The analysis of strategic plans and self-report surveys answered by top management, or a technician, does not assess the practices and sustainability implementation in education and curricula.

Practical implications

This study allows the self-report of already-implemented practices to be compared to the planned strategy of HEI governance in Portugal as stated in their strategic plans.

Originality/value

An analysis and respective insights on the lack of connection between strategic planning and self-report practices about sustainability implementation, using Portugal as a case study.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 24 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 August 2018

Carla Sofia Farinha, Ulisses Azeiteiro and Sandra Sofia Caeiro

This paper aims to determine, from key actors’ perspective, how sustainability has been integrated into the policies and strategies of higher education institutions (HEIs)…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to determine, from key actors’ perspective, how sustainability has been integrated into the policies and strategies of higher education institutions (HEIs), particularly Portuguese public universities, within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UN DESD) 2005-2014.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured exploratory interviews were conducted after gathering a sample of 15 key actors in decision-making processes who designed and implemented Portuguese education for sustainable development (ESD). Seven interviews with the key actors were undertaken and analyzed, leading to other plans, policies and programs that were not publicly accessible.

Findings

The main findings are the lack of commitment from governmental institutions to implementing ESD at the university level and how few documents are partially linked to sustainable development, according to the key actors’ opinions. Nevertheless, Portuguese universities’ autonomy and their social responsibility have lead them to develop several initiatives and policies toward ESD.

Research limitations/implications

Convenience sample does not allow results to be generalized to all Portuguese HEIs. Future investigation will be undertaken, including the analysis of plans, policies and strategies at university level, and a questionnaire survey will be applied to those responsible for implementing sustainability in Portuguese universities.

Practical implications

This study provides findings, conclusions and recommendations that ultimately motivate HEIs to achieve sustainable development and to be more effective in integrating sustainability into their policies and strategies.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the literature by reflecting the lack of integration of policies and strategies in HEIs in a southern European country (Portugal), within the framework and goals of the UN DESD 2005-2014, and by explaining similar patterns probably existing in other countries.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 12 March 2020

Carla Sofia Farinha, Sandra Sofia Caeiro and Ulisses Azeiteiro

This study aims to expand knowledge and provide further insights on how education for sustainable development (ESD) has been integrated into programmes at higher education…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to expand knowledge and provide further insights on how education for sustainable development (ESD) has been integrated into programmes at higher education institutions (HEIs) in Portugal.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire survey was given to key actors in charge of sustainability implementation at each Portuguese public university. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with 13 of the survey respondents and the data were analysed.

Findings

Results showed that Portuguese public universities have their own strategies and policies on ESD, leading them to introduce initiatives arising from their proactiveness rather than governmental edicts. Some universities implemented ESD planning and beneficial “green” practices such as waste separation and recycling and ways to reduce energy consumption that can be a result of the improvement after the United Nations Decade 2005-2014. However, these actions seem to have been taken in isolation and not holistically integrated. Universities face many barriers including lack of funding, not properly trained people and inept government policies. They also must overcome challenges in implementing ESD.

Research limitations/implications

This research into the implementation of ESD has a national scope; the findings should be interpreted only in a Portuguese university context despite the high number of interviewees.

Practical implications

The study has increased knowledge, provided further insights on how ESD has been integrated at HEIs and provided examples of integrated practices at Portuguese universities. A Sustainability4U platform was proposed for enhancing awareness of the need for increasing sustainable development.

Originality/value

This study contributes to defining a country’s profile and how to implement sustainability in HEIs. The importance of obtaining information from key actors in sustainability at Portuguese public universities was highlighted.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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