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Article
Publication date: 14 December 2017

Sandra Huber and Alexander Bassen

So far, sustainability reporting in higher education is in a very early stage – partly, because of the lack of an established and widely recognized sustainability

Abstract

Purpose

So far, sustainability reporting in higher education is in a very early stage – partly, because of the lack of an established and widely recognized sustainability reporting framework for higher education institutions (HEIs). Therefore, a modification of the sustainability code for the use in the higher education context was recently developed in Germany. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate this modification from an academic point of view.

Design/methodology/approach

The evaluation of the sustainability code is based on selected reporting principles drawn from frameworks of sustainability and financial reporting.

Findings

The evaluation shows that to a large extent, the modification of the sustainability code for HEIs contributes to the fulfillment of the selected reporting principles. However, it also became evident that there is still room for improvement, especially in terms of clarity and the inclusion of material aspects.

Practical implications

The need for an implementation manual regarding the modified HEI-specific sustainability code is emphasized, as the sustainability code requires further clarification to be manageable for HEIs.

Originality/value

This paper provides suggestions for the further development of a sustainability reporting guideline for HEIs to enhance its alignment with both sustainability reporting principles and the needs of HEIs.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 4 January 2016

Philip Vaughter, Marcia McKenzie, Lauri Lidstone and Tarah Wright

This paper aims to provide an overview of a content analysis of sustainability policies from Canadian post-secondary education institutions. The paper reports findings on…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide an overview of a content analysis of sustainability policies from Canadian post-secondary education institutions. The paper reports findings on the orientations to sustainability evident in the policies; references to other policies within the documents; and other key themes on how sustainability is engaged in the policies in relation to overall governance, education, operations, research and community outreach.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample of 50 Canadian colleges and universities was selected based on representativeness across a range of criteria. A qualitative thematic content analysis of these policies was conducted using a collaborative coding approach.

Findings

Results suggest that most sustainability policies described a Brundtland (i.e. intergenerational) and/or three-pillar (e.g. economic, environmental and social) orientation to sustainability. Many sustainability policies also connected to other external municipal or provincial policies. In terms of various domains of sustainability, campus operations was discussed by all of the policies and in the most detail, while discussions of sustainability in education (i.e. the curriculum) and in research were vague, and discussions of sustainability in relation to community outreach were included less frequently.

Originality/value

This comparative study provides a broad view of sustainability policies from post-secondary institutions across Canada. It deepens our understanding of the institutions’ conceptualizations of, and priorities for, sustainability. This paper has practical implications for institutions seeking to create or further develop their own policies, and it contributes to the comparative scholarly literature on the institutionalization of sustainability in higher education.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 3 January 2017

Philip Vaughter and Steve Alsop

This paper aims to explore the concept of sustainability imaginaries – unifying core assumptions on what sustainability entails held by stakeholders – set within a large…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the concept of sustainability imaginaries – unifying core assumptions on what sustainability entails held by stakeholders – set within a large suburban Canadian university. The study aims to expand the field of research into imaginaries by focusing on imaginaries within an institution as opposed to a societal or national level.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is conceptual in nature and draws upon empirical tools, such as collaborative thematic coding of interviews of university community members, to illustrate emergent imaginaries around sustainability at the institution.

Findings

This paper identifies four core sustainability imaginaries in an analysis of the interview data: sustainability as performance, sustainability as governance, sustainability as techno-efficiency and sustainability as community organizing. The paper then uses these imaginaries to analyse two recent university-wide events: the establishment of a high-level sustainability council and an energy management program.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the institutional focus of this study, the research may lack generalizability to other institutions. Thus, researchers are encouraged to explore what other imaginaries may exist at other institutions.

Practical implications

This paper includes implications for how universities can manage conflicting expectations and definitions in relation to new sustainability initiatives on campus.

Originality/value

This paper offers reflections on the concept of sustainability imaginaries and what they might offer the field of sustainability in higher education.

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 11 October 2018

Remmer Sassen, Dominik Dienes and Johanna Wedemeier

This study aims to focus on the following research question: Which institutional characteristics are associated with sustainability reporting by UK higher education institutions?

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to focus on the following research question: Which institutional characteristics are associated with sustainability reporting by UK higher education institutions?

Design/methodology/approach

To answer the aforementioned research question, this study uses logistic regression.

Findings

The results show that 17 per cent of the UK higher education institutions report on their sustainability (July 2014). In line with legitimacy and stakeholder theory, logistic regressions provide evidence that the larger the size of the institution, the higher the probability of reporting. By contrast, high public funding decreases this probability.

Research limitations/implications

The findings show characteristics of higher education institutions that support or hamper sustainability reporting. Overall, the findings imply a lack of institutionalisation of sustainability reporting among higher education institutions.

Originality/value

Although a lot of research has been done on corporate sustainability reporting, only a small number of studies have addressed the issues of sustainability reporting of higher education institutions. This study covers all sustainability reports disclosed among the 160 UK higher education institutions. It is the first study that investigates characteristics of higher education institutions that disclose a sustainability report.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 15 September 2021

Chiara Hübscher, Susanne Hensel-Börner and Jörg Henseler

Accomplishing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is imperative for societies to meet their grand challenges. Achieving these goals by 2030 requires…

Abstract

Purpose

Accomplishing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is imperative for societies to meet their grand challenges. Achieving these goals by 2030 requires sustainability change agents with a can-do-attitude. This study aims to show how institutions of higher education can become partners for social marketing in bringing forward such change agents.

Design/methodology/approach

Taking a case study approach, this paper examines a master’s programme to identify factors relevant to educating sustainability change agents that can serve as a basis for a social marketing planning primer to foster the SDGs.

Findings

This study presents the social marketing discipline with a viable option for supporting the achievement of the SDGs through higher education. Its contributions are twofold. First, it is shown that when interdisciplinarity and a project-based approach are conceptualized and organized to create a motivating and meaningful learning environment with the SDGs as guiding principles, students, as sustainability change agents, can increase awareness and have the potential to generate impacts regarding the SDGs at the individual, organizational and institutional levels. Second, based on this, the paper provides guidance to social marketers regarding the planning of a campaign targeting higher education institutions. The authors argue that the aim of this campaign should be to promote the implementation of the SDGs as guiding principles above all, as this can facilitate the process of students becoming sustainability change agents who help achieve the goals in a timely manner.

Research limitations/implications

Whilst single case studies are usually limited in drawing generalizations, the present study offers a starting point for investigating the role of universities as a target group for social marketing in fostering further sustainable development. Building on its findings, future research could test the proposed social marketing planning primer and evaluate the impact on the SDGs at a larger scale than only one university.

Practical implications

It is proposed to use the findings of the study to model a social marketing campaign aimed at universities to motivate them to help develop sustainability change agents in all disciplines by integrating the SDGs as guiding principles for study programmes.

Social implications

Students’ impacts range from leading peers to buy sustainable products and consume less to influencing a company to adopt sustainable packaging, thereby contributing to social change.

Originality/value

This study is among the first to examine the possible effect of a study programme on the SDGs at different societal levels by taking the perspectives of multiple stakeholders into account and combining the theory of higher education with sustainability and social marketing.

Details

Journal of Social Marketing, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6763

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Article
Publication date: 30 May 2019

Usman Umar Akeel, Sarah Jayne Bell and John E. Mitchell

The purpose of this study is to present an assessment of the sustainability content of the Nigerian engineering curriculum in universities.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to present an assessment of the sustainability content of the Nigerian engineering curriculum in universities.

Design/methodology/approach

Content analysis is used to generate and analyse data from three engineering documents, namely, the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards for Engineering Programmes in Nigeria and the engineering handbooks of two Nigerian higher education institutions.

Findings

The Nigerian engineering curriculum is revealed to have a low sustainability content, with environmental concepts being the most cited themes and social topics as the least stated issues.

Research limitations/implications

The sustainability assessment approach adopted in the study is constrained by the question of what constitutes a sustainability syllabus. Expert-derived sustainability themes used in the study are unavoidably incomplete and may limit the conduct of an exhaustive sustainability content assessment.

Practical implications

Based on the research outcome, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria and other stakeholders can consider ways to adequately incorporate sustainability themes in the Nigerian engineering curriculum.

Originality/value

The research is an effort to determine the presence of sustainability issues in the Nigerian engineering education, which has hitherto been scarcely documented. This study provides a baseline and a rationale for sustainability education interventions in the Nigerian engineering curriculum. It also presents a methodology for analysing sustainability content in university curriculum and contributes to the continuing sustainability education discourse, especially in relation to sub-Saharan Africa.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 3 August 2020

Anne-Karen Hueske and Caroline Aggestam Pontoppidan

During the last two decades, there has been increasing emphasis on higher education institutions as agents promoting and advancing sustainability. This chapter addresses…

Abstract

During the last two decades, there has been increasing emphasis on higher education institutions as agents promoting and advancing sustainability. This chapter addresses how sustainability is integrated into management education at higher education institutions. It is based on a systematic literature review that teases out governance, education, research, outreach and campus operations (GEROCO) as key elements for embedding sustainability in management education. In addition, it identifies the important role of having an overall governing strategic direction that serves to anchor sustainability. The chapter highlights that sustainability and responsible management education initiatives are interconnected and are complex to embed through the university system.

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Article
Publication date: 21 February 2020

Ana Marta Aleixo, Ulisses M. Azeiteiro and Susana Leal

The study aims to examine the vertical integration of the sustainable development goals (SGDs) in Portuguese public higher education institutions, namely, at the level of…

Abstract

Purpose

The study aims to examine the vertical integration of the sustainable development goals (SGDs) in Portuguese public higher education institutions, namely, at the level of undergraduate and master’s degrees, and the extent to which Portuguese higher education institutions (HEI) are preparing for the United Nations’ call to promote SDGs.

Design/methodology/approach

A content analysis of the designations and objectives of the 2,556 undergraduate and master’s degrees (in 33 Portuguese public higher education institutions) was done to determine whether they promote at least one SDG.

Findings

The results show that 198 courses directly address at least one SDG; on average, each higher education institution (HEI) has six courses that explicitly address at least one SDG; universities have more courses in SDG areas than in polytechnics; more master’s degrees embrace SDGs than undergraduate degrees; and most of the courses addressing SDGs are from the social sciences and humanities areas and from natural and environmental sciences.

Originality/value

This paper serves to raise the awareness of Portuguese HEIs of their role and responsibility in furthering SGDs.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 11 February 2021

Shalini Menon and M. Suresh

The purpose of this paper is to explore and encapsulate the enablers that can facilitate education for sustainable development in higher education (HE). The study also…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore and encapsulate the enablers that can facilitate education for sustainable development in higher education (HE). The study also aims to understand the interdependence between the enablers.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts the total interpretive structural modelling approach to comprehend the interaction and transitivity between the enablers. Cross-impact multiplication matrix analysis was applied to rank the enablers and classify them on the basis of the driving and dependence power into dependent, autonomous, independent and linkage enablers.

Findings

An extensive literature review and expert opinion helped in identifying 10 enablers that can promote sustainability in higher education. The structural model revealed government policies, media, accreditation/sustainability audit, sustainability leadership and institutional commitment as the crucial enablers that can drive sustainability and activate the enablers with high dependence and low driving power.

Practical implications

The results of this study will assist the policymakers and management of universities and colleges in understanding important factors that can facilitate sustainability in higher education. Universities and colleges to incorporate sustainability in their system need to transform not only the core higher education activities of learning and teaching, research and engagement, also the way the colleges operate its culture, governance, structure and how it supports the staff and students.

Originality/value

So far, research on sustainability in higher education has looked into each factor in isolation. This research provides a comprehensive view of the factors and has attempted to establish a multidirectional interplay between factors facilitating sustainability in higher education (SHE).

Details

Journal of Modelling in Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5664

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Article
Publication date: 2 January 2018

Ana Marta Aleixo, Ulisses Azeiteiro and Susana Leal

The purpose of this work is to analyze the current state of implementation of sustainability development (SD) in Portuguese higher education institutions (HEIs).

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this work is to analyze the current state of implementation of sustainability development (SD) in Portuguese higher education institutions (HEIs).

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire was developed to measure the level of implementation of SD practices in HEIs as well as the number of rankings, certifications and declarations of these institutions. The questionnaire was sent by e-mail to all rectors, presidents, directors of faculties, departments and schools of Portuguese universities and polytechnics. A sample of 53 leaders was obtained.

Findings

Portuguese HEIs are mainly engaged in the social dimension of sustainability. The economic dimension emerges in second place and the institutional in third; the environmental dimension is the least developed. Except for a few specific topics (e.g. related to research on SD, and the offer of degree courses in SD), there are no significant differences between universities and polytechnics in the implementation of SD practices. Only 11 per cent of HEIs are innovators in the implementation of SD practices, and a majority of HEIs have implemented less than 34 per cent of the SD practices studied.

Research limitations/implications

This research has a national scope, and the results should be interpreted only in the Portuguese context. Future studies should include a larger range of institutional actors within the faculty.

Practical implications

This study provides valuable insights and theoretical and methodological guidance for future implementation processes supporting the transition to sustainability in HEIs.

Originality/value

This is the first study conducted in Portuguese HEIs with the aim of determining their efforts to implement and promote sustainability.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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