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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2017

Ingrid Mulà, Daniella Tilbury, Alexandra Ryan, Marlene Mader, Jana Dlouhá, Clemens Mader, Javier Benayas, Jirí Dlouhý and David Alba

The world is shaped by an education system that reinforces unsustainable thinking and practice. Efforts to transform our societies must thus prioritise the education of…

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2638

Abstract

Purpose

The world is shaped by an education system that reinforces unsustainable thinking and practice. Efforts to transform our societies must thus prioritise the education of educators – building their understanding of sustainability and their ability to transform curriculum and wider learning opportunities. The purpose of this paper is to focus on university educators and critically review the professional development and policy landscape challenges that influence their effective engagement with Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The paper is informed by a pan-European collaboration involving 33 countries that identified emerging scholarship and practice in this area and assessed the lessons learned from ESD professional development initiatives. It sets the context for a special issue titled “Professional Development in Higher Education for Sustainable Development” that draws together a collection of articles focusing on professional development of university educators across the world.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides a critical review of existing practice, international policy frameworks and literature relating to ESD, professional development and higher education. It examines innovative initiatives worldwide that seek to improve the capability of educators in higher education to integrate ESD into academic practice at individual, disciplinary and institutional levels. A rigorous process of selection was applied and overseen by an international expert group. This ensured that the initiatives sought educational change in ESD, and not simply the embedding of content about sustainability into learning opportunities. It also assured that the initiatives had a clear and intentional professional learning process to underpin the engagement of participants with ESD.

Findings

ESD has grown in visibility and status worldwide, with a clear increase in activity in higher education. The sector is viewed as a significant force for change in societies, through the education provision it offers to future professionals and leaders in all sectors. However, universities currently lack capacity to integrate ESD effectively into mainstream teaching practices and the training they provide for academic staff or to integrate ESD into their institutional teaching and learning priorities. Many ESD activities remain focused on teaching issues arising in sustainable development research and delivering specialist modules or courses in sustainability. Very few countries and institutions have significant staff development programmes to enhance the ESD competences of university educators and build their academic leadership capabilities for ESD. The contributions to this special issue show the need for greater understanding of the multi-level task of integrating ESD into professional development activities, not just for individual impact in the classroom but to advance institutional change and decisively influence the teaching and learning discourse of higher education.

Originality/value

There are few research studies and documented activities on ESD professional development in higher education available in the literature. This paper attempts to explore what ESD professional development involves and describes its complexity within the higher education sector. The special issue provides a collection of innovative research and practical initiatives that can help those involved in education and learning to develop ESD as a priority for future university innovative pathways.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 18 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 November 2013

Clemens Mader, Geoffrey Scott and Dzulkifli Abdul Razak

Numerous policy announcements and articles have been produced over the past 20 years calling for higher education institutions to give greater focus to social, cultural…

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2822

Abstract

Purpose

Numerous policy announcements and articles have been produced over the past 20 years calling for higher education institutions to give greater focus to social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability in their curriculum, research, engagement activities and operations. However, there has been much less attention given to establishing how to ensure these desired developments are successfully initiated, implemented and sustained. It is to these key areas of effective change management, leadership, support and governance for embedding sustainability into the core activities of higher education institutions through transformation that this special issue of Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal (SAMPJ) gives focus. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper brings together a consolidated analysis of the existing empirical literature on effective change management and leadership in higher education transformation with particular focus on the results of a recent international empirical study of 188 experienced leaders of sustainability in universities in Australia, the UK, the European Mainland, North America and South Africa.

Findings

The paper brings together the case for action in the sector, identifies an integrating framework for addressing sustainable development in the university curriculum, research, engagement activities and operations consistently, comprehensively through a whole institutional approach and identifies the key challenges and lessons on effective change management and leadership for sustainability transformation initiatives in universities and colleges.

Originality/value

Higher education institutions often give more attention to discussing what should change in their provision than to ensuring that desired transformations are actually put into practice effectively, sustainably and with positive impact. This paper and the articles which follow seek to address this gap.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 November 2013

Maha Mourad

Higher education is one of the key sectors in any economy that plays a major role in the sustainability and enhancement of the society. Hence, the new reform program in…

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education is one of the key sectors in any economy that plays a major role in the sustainability and enhancement of the society. Hence, the new reform program in the European higher education aims to create a quality culture within the universities. This paper presents a conceptual contribution as a way to improve the social sustainability performance within the higher education institutions (HEIs) in Europe.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper starts with an overview of the Polish higher education system as an example of a European country implementing the European Standards and Guidelines in higher education. This is followed by a comprehensive literature review of the quality assurance (QA) policies in order to identify the main players who are working to build trust and sustainability in higher education. The literature review ends with a link between the perceived benefits of QA and the behavior of the students, namely students' involvement in QA activities. The research is composed of two exploratory studies. The first exploratory research was conducted with the objective of identifying the Polish higher education market. The second exploratory study was conducted to meet the main players in the European QA organizations, to be able to understand the overall European experience.

Findings

The literature reviews, as well as the results of the two exploratory studies, lead to the development of a proposed conceptual framework. The paper ends with the implications for management action and suggestions for future empirical work.

Originality/value

This paper presents a conceptual contribution to the perception of the students to the QA activities as a way to improve the social sustainability performance within the HEIs in Europe.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 November 2013

Francesca Liane Brown, Jonas Meyer and Mario Diethart

The purpose of this paper is to assist the United Nations Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) in continuing their fundamental work within the region and to address some…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assist the United Nations Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) in continuing their fundamental work within the region and to address some of the prominent challenges within the RCE community. Specific RCE case studies from the global network were employed, emphasizing experiences in collaboration with multiple stakeholders including higher education institutions.

Design/methodology/approach

Conducting a literature review and employing a qualitative research methodology with the use of a guided questionnaire, the paper aims to gain a deeper understanding of the operations of RCEs in general and more specifically the case studies.

Findings

The paper shows some of the strategies implemented by the cohort of case studies to overcome their common challenges. Key recommendations based on the findings are made in its quest for continual development and final conclusions assessing the contentious challenges are drawn.

Research limitations/implications

This paper focuses on RCEs within Europe, with cases from the USA and Canada for comparison. Although the paper highlights common themes and challenges, it is highly probable that RCEs outside of the studied regions may contend with similar challenges; further research would have to be conducted to assess the wider scope of the situation.

Originality/value

The paper gives an external perspective of the challenges faced and identifies some areas in which improvements could be made. It is also generated from information gathered from multi-case study RCEs.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2008

Clemens Mader, Friedrich M. Zimmermann, Gerald Steiner and Filippina Risopoulos

The purpose of this paper is to present how the Regional Centres of Expertise (RCE) Graz‐Styria as well as RCEs as instruments can contribute to regional development. The…

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1740

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present how the Regional Centres of Expertise (RCE) Graz‐Styria as well as RCEs as instruments can contribute to regional development. The RCE Graz‐Styria is representing a case study of Central European RCEs.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper describes the development process of RCE Graz‐Styria. Regional challenges to strengthen sustainable regional development have been investigated by literature review and interviews with regional actors.

Findings

The paper discusses challenges of establishing an RCE and describes how an RCE can face regional and global challenges by innovative actions.

Practical implications

The paper provides an insight of the establishment of the RCE Graz‐Styria. Readers who would like to establish an RCE in their own region can learn from the process of RCE Graz‐Styria. The reader has to take into account that the regional challenges might be different, and thus the RCE Graz‐Styria is a role model regarding its management structure for RCEs based at universities.

Originality/value

By 2008 and since 2006, every year more than ten new RCEs have been officially acknowledged by the United Nations University. Specially for those new RCEs coming in the next years, which can learn from reading about different management structures and different challenges experienced by different RCEs. For already established RCEs, RCE case studies are useful not only for learning from other RCEs but also for getting in contact with RCEs with common interests and initiating common projects.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 November 2013

Gisela Cebrián, Marcus Grace and Debra Humphris

Research on sustainability in higher education has focused on environmental management of the university campus, case studies and examples of good practice. Although the…

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1795

Abstract

Purpose

Research on sustainability in higher education has focused on environmental management of the university campus, case studies and examples of good practice. Although the value and contribution of these initiatives has been articulated, little holistic and structural transformation of universities has been achieved so far. This paper aims to explore different theoretical frameworks to better understand and improve the effectiveness of organisational change processes towards sustainability in universities.

Design/methodology/approach

The combination of different theoretical approaches on organisational learning such as organisational learning theory, the idea of expansive learning at work, the ideal of the learning organisation and transformative learning theory are reviewed in this paper. These ideas in combination with leadership for sustainability and education for sustainability lead to an integrative model that links theory and practice, cultural and social aspects influencing learning, and the ability of individuals to critically reflect and challenge existing worldviews to learn and develop new practices.

Findings

The theoretical foundations and model presented seek to provide useful theoretical basis with which to better understand the process of transformation towards sustainability in higher education. This involves a continuous process of learning to rethink existing practices and worldviews by individuals within the organisation, which lead to community learning, which in turn lead to organisational learning. Six key implications for action have also been identified.

Originality/value

Little research exists that uses organisational learning to inform the design and development of the research reporting on the achievements, opportunities and challenges emerged during the change process towards embedding sustainability in higher education. The suggested framework is envisaged as an integrative theoretical framework that can help understand the “how to”, thus the learning processes associated with embedding sustainability in the core activities of universities.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 November 2013

Carol A. Adams

This article aims to provide a perspective on sustainability reporting and performance management in the university sector making a case for increased accountability…

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4018

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to provide a perspective on sustainability reporting and performance management in the university sector making a case for increased accountability, improved (management of) performance and greater innovation in approach.

Design/methodology/approach

The author provides a personal perspective drawing on experience in sustainability standard setting and as a sustainability researcher, advisor and practitioner in the university sector and others.

Findings

The paper finds that university practice in sustainability reporting and performance management significantly lags other sectors and falls far short of optimising the potential of the sector to influence transformational change through knowledge transfer.

Research limitations/implications

The paper suggests some areas for further research.

Practical implications

This article makes a case for increased sustainability performance management and reporting in universities arguing that it would lead to increased accountability and improved performance. It calls for social, environmental and economic sustainability to integrated into university processes. The paper has implications for university policy makers and regulators.

Originality/value

Little attention has been paid to the university sector in the sustainability reporting and social responsibility literature or indeed in recognised standards for sustainability reporting and management.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 November 2013

Miklós Antal

A student-led department greening competition brought significant change to certain departments at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary. The…

Abstract

Purpose

A student-led department greening competition brought significant change to certain departments at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary. The purpose of the paper is to help sustainability groups at other tertiary education institutions to organize similar competitions.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the approach and methodology of the competition are explained in detail. Second, results of the competition in the first three years are summarized. Third, opportunities for improvement are discussed. Fourth, potentials and limitations are reviewed. Finally, the most important success criteria are listed.

Findings

Eight weeks of assisted learning and two audit-based assessments are appropriate to facilitate the greening process of departments. To successfully organize a competition, a reliable team with a core group of at least five to six experienced members is needed. Maximal effectiveness can only be achieved if local environmental leaders at departments are activated.

Practical implications

If local environmental leaders act as internal project managers, environmental practices can change significantly. Improvements can affect material and energy use, transportation behavior and external outreach activities.

Originality/value

The project description shows a structure for how to engage in greening departments. A consistent rubric was applied across multiple departments over a span of three years, which allows for drawing general conclusions. Insights can facilitate similarly effective projects elsewhere.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 November 2013

Dalia Khalil, Omar Ramzy and Rasha Mostafa

The aim of this paper is to measure students' perception towards sustainable development (SD) concept. The paper highlights students' perception before and after joining…

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1270

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to measure students' perception towards sustainable development (SD) concept. The paper highlights students' perception before and after joining Heliopolis University (HU). Also, the research underscores different activities, facilities and methods HU is implementing to sharpen the delivery of SD concept. Furthermore, the study emphasizes on the extent to which students are anticipating implementing SD concept in their life.

Design/methodology/approach

The research paper is an exploratory qualitative research design. The sample frame was the database of HU. A non-probability convenient sampling approach was applied to select 26 elements of the study. In-depth personal interviews were conducted. Questions were coded to facilitate analysis and to link respondents' answers with different questions. Accordingly, 12 structured open-ended questions were designed to gain clear insights regarding students' awareness of SD. Personal interviews took place at the end of fall semester 2012.

Findings

Students' responses were classified into observations and realization, needs and suggestions, and future plans. All students confirmed interest to apply SD in their lives.

Research limitations/implications

This research is limited only to HU students, which is considered a limitation of the research findings. Another limitation is that the study is an exploratory qualitative research, which could be enhanced if a conclusive design is applied. However, both limitations are considered within the context of conducting future research. One is related to the expansion of the sample frame to include more diversified students, and the other to conduct a conclusive research for fine-tuning the results and recommendations.

Originality/value

The paper's value stems from measuring multi-disciplinary freshmen perception regarding SD concept at HU, which is the first non-for-profit university in Egypt and the Middle East declaring SD as its overall guiding principle and specialization. Moreover, the paper provides insights on SD concept from a developing country perspective.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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