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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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Article
Publication date: 14 December 2020

Luis-Alberto Casado-Aranda, Sandra Sofia Caeiro, Jorge Trindade, Arminda Paço, David Lizcano Casas and Ana Landeta

Universities are continually transforming its structure and governance in response to the new social, environmental and economic challenges. Particularly, there has…

Abstract

Purpose

Universities are continually transforming its structure and governance in response to the new social, environmental and economic challenges. Particularly, there has recently been a growing academic interest for measuring sustainable practices of higher education institutions (HEI) aiming to monitor and reduce their carbon emissions, as well as transform them into more sustainable organizations. More recent studies began to focus also on the sustainable performance of distance education Universities. So it became crucial to evaluate their sustainability practices through sustainability assessment tools with the aim of improving their sustainability performance and boosting their role as agents of academic, social and economic change. The purpose of this study is to assess and compare holistically sustainability implementation in two similar distance learning universities and to evaluate their advantages and disadvantages.

Design/methodology/approach

One of the most rigorous and internationally used sustainability assessment tools was used – the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, to evaluate and compare sustainability implementation in two distance universities, one from Spain and another from Portugal: the Madrid Open University and Universidade Aberta. Indicators of both universities were compared and ways of improvement in both universities were widely discussed.

Findings

The results of this research show that there is a similar pattern in both universities. Both have low performance in campus operations and low levels of community participation but good performance in sustainability courses and programmes offer. The results of both institutions were compared and allowed a learning process for improvement.

Originality/value

This research hopes to contribute to the continuous research about the usefulness of sustainability assessment tools in particular when applied to distance universities at the time that offers new paths to carry out improved sustainable practices in crucial areas of interest such as research, administration, education and resource-saving. This research also highlights the value of distance learning universities and their ability to be more sustainable after the advent of COVID-19.

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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…

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

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Article
Publication date: 19 May 2021

Daniela Perbandt, Marie-Sophie Heinelt, Paula Bacelar-Nicolau, Mahsa Mapar and Sandra Sofia Caeiro

Distance universities are of great importance for establishing sustainability literacy, as they operate as multipliers for thousands of students. However, despite several…

Abstract

Purpose

Distance universities are of great importance for establishing sustainability literacy, as they operate as multipliers for thousands of students. However, despite several advantages of e-learning environments compared to traditional class-teaching, there are still challenges regarding suitable e-learning tools and didactical models. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of several e-learning tools on students’ knowledge and skills growth and to compare two learning paths, synchronous vs asynchronous, exploring how each affects the level of students’ knowledge achievement and skills acquisition.

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical analysis is based on an online course “Participatory processes in environmental politics”. International MSc and PhD students who enrolled in the course were from FernUniversität in Hagen (Germany) and Aberta University (Portugal). The course was designed as the flipped classroom, applying different e-learning tools and activities, some synchronous and others asynchronous. A pre- and post-evaluation questionnaire was applied to evaluate students’ knowledge and skills. Descriptive statistical analyses were carried out on this data.

Findings

Results showed that in the synchronous group, knowledge about theoretical approaches to citizen participation and sustainable environmental governance improved to a greater extent, whereas the asynchronous group showed greater improvement in nearly all skills related to intercultural communication and e-learning. Also, in the synchronous path, students enhanced their knowledge on “research application” to a greater extent.

Originality/value

Evaluating the effectiveness of different e-learning tools on students’ sustainability knowledge and information and communication technologies skills is a fundamental issue. The study discusses these issues, contributing to enhancing the use of adequate and grounded e-learning models on sustainable development in higher education.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 17 August 2020

Marcus Vinicius de Souza Silva Oliveira, João Simão and Sandra Sofia Ferreira da Silva Caeiro

Encouraged by the State, the Brazilian public organizations practice sustainable procurement as one of the strategies to promote sustainable development. Performing them…

Abstract

Purpose

Encouraged by the State, the Brazilian public organizations practice sustainable procurement as one of the strategies to promote sustainable development. Performing them requires understanding to manage stakeholders. The purpose of this study is to identify and categorize the stakeholders of Brazilian public organizations’ sustainable procurement system.5

Design/methodology/approach

Preliminarily, the stakeholders were identified in the literature and by interviews with experts. Later, in a multi-case study, it was categorized by the model of stakeholder salience.

Findings

In general, governmental and intra-organizational stakeholders were classified as more salient. However, some stakeholders considered important by literature and experts have been categorized as less salient by organizations.

Originality/value

The proposed categorization is useful for the system comprehension and will serve as a basis for the development of future works, notably those who propose to understand or evaluate the sustainable public procurement (SPP). Additionally, this work aims to enlarge the knowledge and the better practices of SPP in a large emerging South American country, giving its contribution to the transition to more sustainable societies.

Details

Journal of Public Procurement, vol. 20 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1535-0118

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2012

Sandra Sofia Caeiro, Tomas Angel Del Valls and Peter Michael Chapman

The purpose of this paper is to discuss integrative environmental assessments applicable to estuarine sediments, including the advantages and limitations of different…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss integrative environmental assessments applicable to estuarine sediments, including the advantages and limitations of different lines of evidence that could form part of such assessments and their application to ecosystem services.

Design/methodology/approach

Weight of evident framework integrating multiple lines of evidence for sediment quality assessment.

Findings

Integrative environmental assessments are required to fully address the risks to resident fauna of anthropogenic contaminants deposited in estuarine sediments.

Originality/value

The paper presents an updated discussion of the methodologies for environmental assessments of contaminated estuarine sediments.

Details

Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7835

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 8 June 2012

Abstract

Details

Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7835

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Antje Disterheft, Ulisses M Azeiteiro, Walter Leal Filho and Sandra Caeiro

This paper aims to connect participatory sustainability implementation with sustainability assessment, exploring learning theories, the principles of Higher Education for…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to connect participatory sustainability implementation with sustainability assessment, exploring learning theories, the principles of Higher Education for Sustainable Development (HESD) and respective indicators applied in the university context. Even though participation is partly considered in existing assessment practices, it is still unclear what and how to measure participatory processes that envision implementing sustainability principles in higher education institutions. Holistic approaches are often proclaimed, but reductionist assessment methods are frequently followed.

Design/methodology/approach

The study followed a qualitative approach, inspired by the Delphi method, and includes semi-structured expert interviews (N = 15) and two focus group discussions (N = 23), with participants coming from a total of 17 different countries. Data were analysed and compared according to qualitative content analysis and systemized according to the underlying theoretical strands.

Findings

The findings suggest that participatory processes can be better assessed from a social learning and organisational learning perspective, emphasizing non-linear criteria for the quality of the process in terms of depth and meaningfulness as well as criteria for the quality of the outcome in terms of knowledge generation and innovation. The findings also point implicitly to the need of considering double- and triple-loop learning, if a culture of participation towards sustainability is to be pursued, and underline the high impact of institutional governance.

Originality/value

Although a great volume of literature about sustainability implementation in higher education exists, studies focusing on participatory processes in this context are rather scarce. This research pays attention to sustainability experts working in universities rarely heard in a more systemic manner and also applies a reflective participatory approach itself by using qualitative methods.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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