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Article

Albert Mawonde and Muchaiteyi Togo

The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges faced by ODeL institutions to involve students in campus sustainable development goals (SDGs) related practices…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges faced by ODeL institutions to involve students in campus sustainable development goals (SDGs) related practices. Given that universities are mandated by several calls to participate in the implementation of SDGs, one way they can contribute to the SDGs paradigm is through the involvement of students.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected through interviewing the Campus Operations Manager and the Students Representative Council (SRC) to determine the challenges of involving students’ in SDGs-related practices. The SRC completed the USAT (Part C) to determine SDGs practices students are involved in. An online survey was undertaken to determine how BSc Environmental Management students are participating in SDGs and the challenges faced towards their involvement. Thematic analysis analysed interview data and descriptive statistics analysed online survey data. Credibility and reliability were enhanced by data triangulation.

Findings

The research revealed that few students were involved in some campus SDGs-related practices. Few students were involved in off-campus SDG projects. This result is attributed to the distance between the University of South Africa (Unisa) and the students, lack of finance, the misconception around SDGs and a lack of interest in SDGs. The geographical distribution of ODeL students was concluded as the major barrier to student involvement in SDGs.

Originality/value

There are few studies, which investigated the involvement of students in campus-related SDGs in universities, let alone distance universities in Africa. The paper testifies that ODeL institutions have avenues to involve students in SDGs if such institutions become proactive through campus SDGs competitions and certification.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article

Muchaiteyi Togo and Crecentia Pamidzai Gandidzanwa

Higher education can play a role in the implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, there are steps and structures which are necessary for this to be…

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education can play a role in the implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, there are steps and structures which are necessary for this to be possible. This paper aims to establish how the University of Zimbabwe (UZ)’s innovation hub is implementing SDGs for water, energy and food, resources which are in critical shortage in Harare; as part of its mandate to implement the newly introduced Education 5.0.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on qualitative research. Interview guides were used to gather information from Harare residents, university staff and students. Observations were undertaken and review of secondary data was done. The data was collated into a narrative and content analysis was used to analyse it.

Findings

The UZ innovation hub is aimed to deliver Education 5.0. It houses research projects on energy and food. Water-related projects are still in the pipeline. The research revealed challenges that call for mobilisation of funding to support the projects, to protect researchers’ intellectual property rights and to strengthen interdisciplinary research and information flows between the university and the community. The paper argues for higher and tertiary education institutions to work directly with policymakers and societies in implementing SDGs.

Originality/value

Education 5.0 is relatively new and not much research has been done to establish how it intends to deliver its objectives. The innovation hub model has the potential to yield positive results in SDGs implementation. This research can motivate other universities to work with policymakers and communities in implementing SDGs for urban transformative adaptation.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article

Albert Mawonde and Muchaiteyi Togo

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how universities can play a pivotal role in implementing sustainable development goals (SDGs). It recognises the advantage that…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how universities can play a pivotal role in implementing sustainable development goals (SDGs). It recognises the advantage that universities have in responding to social challenges through their functions and operations, mainly through research and innovation and academic prowess. Not much guidance is available on how they can contribute to SDG implementation. The research is a case study of the University of South Africa, a distance education institution. It showcases how its science campus in Johannesburg has incorporated SDGs in its operations.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected through interviews with campus operations managers and sustainability office managers, a survey with environmental science honours students was conducted and observations of the Unisa Florida campus environment were undertaken to establish practices that contribute towards SDG implementation. Document analysis assisted in complementing the data collection process. Data were analysed by aligning practices with SDG indicators.

Findings

The research revealed a number of practices that align with SDGs in teaching, research, community engagement and campus operations management. Unisa is however challenged by financial limitations and as an open distance education and learning (ODeL) institution, it struggles to involve students in these projects. The paper concludes that while the most obvious contribution of universities to SDGs is towards quality education (SDG 4), higher education, including distance education institutions, can play an active role in implementing other SDGs as well.

Research limitations/implications

This research was limited to one institution, Unisa, owing to time limitations. While this might seem like the research was too selective, it was intentional, as the aim was to research a distance education institution. The research targeted staff involved in campus operations at Unisa’s Florida Campus, which is located in Johannesburg. Interviews were limited to students pursuing BSc Honours in Environmental Management. This was a methodological decision to contain the research, but making sure that the targeted respondents were the most informed. Individual case studies are often critiqued for being insufficiently representative to allow generalisations to other contexts (Jupp, 2006). This applies to this research in terms of “populations and universes” (Yin, 2003, p. 10), but generalisations to “theoretical propositions” (ibid) are possible.

Originality/value

There are few studies in Africa which researched implementation of SDGs in universities, let alone in ODeL institutions. The research revealed the challenge of involving students in sustainability practices in distance education institutions and serves as a testimony that such institutions can still have successful projects on and off campus. It suggests involving students in applied research based on the current sustainability projects on and off campus.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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Article

Naif Alghamdi, Alexandra den Heijer and Hans de Jonge

The purpose of this paper is to analyse 12 assessment tools of sustainability in universities and develop the structure and the contents of these tools to be more…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse 12 assessment tools of sustainability in universities and develop the structure and the contents of these tools to be more intelligible. The configuration of the tools reviewed highlight indicators that clearly communicate only the essential information. This paper explores how the theoretical concept of a sustainable university is translated into more measurable variables to support practitioners and academics in assessing sustainability in universities.

Design/methodology/approach

The main method for this paper was a desk study approach, which incorporated reviewing research papers, graduate theses, academic books, network platforms and websites.

Findings

The tools reviewed share similar traits in terms of criteria, sub-criteria and indicators. Five benchmarks are essential for a holistic framework: management; academia; environment; engagement and innovation.

Practical implications

This research can not only be used to improve existing assessment tools but also as a means to develop new tools tailored for universities that face a variety of challenges and lack the ability to measure their sustainability policies.

Social implications

Making higher education more sustainable through all the criteria mentioned influences students, as well as staff, to maintain a culture of sustainability.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the literature by simplifying and detailing the structure and contents of the tools in a way which indicators are shown, giving a full picture of these tools to enable universities to be more aware of the sustainability issues that affect them.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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