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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 (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: 15 May 2017

Fernando Morgado, Paula Bacelar-Nicolau, Jaime Rendon von Osten, Paulo Santos, Leonor Bacelar-Nicolau, Harith Farooq, Fátima Alves, Amadeu M.V.M. Soares and Ulisses M. Azeiteiro

Higher education system has a critical role to play in educating environmentally aware and participant citizens about global climate change (CC). And, as shown by the 21st…

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education system has a critical role to play in educating environmentally aware and participant citizens about global climate change (CC). And, as shown by the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Climate Change – COP 21, held in Paris in December 2015, there is still a path to be followed regarding the role played by universities in the negotiations and in influencing decision-making on a matter of such global importance. The purpose of this first study conducted within Portuguese (Europe), Mexican (Spanish-speaking North America University) and Mozambican (Africa) universities is to investigate higher education system students’ perceptions on CC.

Design/methodology/approach

The data were collected through a questionnaire aiming at characterising students from the socio-demography, and from their perceptions, motivations, attitudes and knowledge relating to the topic of CC. Statistical analysis was used to compare and characterise the three national groups under study.

Findings

This study did not show significant perception differences among the analysed subsamples, although there was a tendency for Mexican students to express lesser belief that CC was happening, and for Mozambicans to show a greater belief in CC issues and motivation to mitigate its effects which may be related to the specifics contexts. The results show that relevant differences among nationalities mostly concerned the magnitude of choices (e.g. most respondents of each nationality expressed interest in CC issues, but the magnitude of this expression differed according to nationality). The principal component analysis (second and third components) clearly embodied nationality profiles (discussed in the context of different cultures, educational structures and CC impacts).

Research limitations/implications

Further research is warranted to understand the integration of CC into higher education curriculum to improve and target educational efforts to suit students’ needs.

Practical implications

How CC perceptions vary cross-nationally and how research studies that examine the integration of CC into higher education curriculum are areas for which more research is needed.

Originality/value

The results highlight the importance of socio-cultural dimensions of each country in relation to the understanding or perception of CC issues, namely, in what concerns aspects related with gender roles, age, active learning and citizenship. This study’s data evidenced that despite the surveyed students being familiarized with CC phenomena, this knowledge does not translate necessarily into concrete mitigation practices and behaviours.

Details

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, vol. 9 no. 03
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-8692

Keywords

Abstract

Purpose

There is a widely held belief that sustainable development (SD) policies are essential for universities to successfully engage in matters related to sustainability, and are an indicator of the extent to which they are active in this field. This paper aims to examine the evidence which currently exists to support this assumption. It surveys a sample of universities in Brazil, Germany, Greece, Portugal, South Africa and the UK and the USA to ascertain the extent to which universities that are active in the field of sustainable development have formal policies on sustainable development, and whether such policies are a pre-condition for successful sustainability efforts.

Design/methodology/approach

The study involved 35 universities in seven countries (five universities respectively). A mixed-methods approach has been used, ranging from document analysis, website analysis, questionnaires and interviewing.

Findings

Although only 60 per cent of the sampled universities had a policy that specifically addressed SD, this cannot be regarded as an indicator that the remaining 40 per cent are not engaged with substantial actions that address SD. Indeed, all of the universities in the sample, regardless of the existence of a SD formal policy, demonstrated engagement with environmental sustainability policies or procedures in some form or another. This research has been limited by the availability and ability to procure information from the sampled universities. Despite this, it is one of the largest research efforts of this kind ever performed.

Research limitations/implications

This research has been limited by the availability and ability to procure information from the sampled universities.

Practical implications

The findings provide some valuable insights into the connections between SD policies on the one hand and the practice of sustainable development in higher education institutions on the other.

Social implications

Universities with SD policies can contribute to models of economic growth consistent with sustainable development.

Originality/value

The study is the one of the largest research efforts of this kind ever performed.

Details

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

Keywords

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…

1243

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

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

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).

1530

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

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 19 June 2018

Ulisses M. Azeiteiro

441

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-8692

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 23 February 2018

José Guilherme Moreira Simões Vieira, Joana Salgueiro, Amadeu Mortágua Velho da Maia Soares, Ulisses Azeiteiro and Fernando Morgado

The development of models that allows the evaluation and prediction of erosion processes is an important tool for the management and planning of coastal systems. Mangrove forests…

3141

Abstract

Purpose

The development of models that allows the evaluation and prediction of erosion processes is an important tool for the management and planning of coastal systems. Mangrove forests systems are under threat by the impacts of erosion, which is also intensified by human activity (and aggravated in the scenarios of global warming and climate change). The purpose of this paper is to develop a model of geographic information systems (GIS) that can be used for any estuary area, but it can also be used for mangroves.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses georeferentiation which is defined as a set of parameters that best characterize the mangrove areas: elevation (m); geomorphology; geology; land cover; anthropogenic activities; distance to the coastline (m) and maximum tidal range (m). Three different methods are used to combine the various vulnerability parameters, namely, DRASTIC index, analytical hierarchy process (AHP) and square root of the geometric mean.

Findings

The three approaches presented in this work show different types evaluating vulnerability to erosion, highlighting a stronger overvaluation of the areas presented with a high vulnerability, through the use of DRASTIC index when compared with two other approaches. The use of the AHP shows similarity to the square root of the geometric mean model, but the AHP also presents a higher percentage of vulnerable areas classified as having medium to very high vulnerability. On the other hand, the use of square root of the geometric mean led to a higher percentage of areas classified as having low and very low vulnerability.

Research limitations/implications

These three qualitative models, based on a cognitive approach, using the set of parameters defined in this research, are a good tool for the spatial distribution of erosion in different mangroves in the world.

Originality/value

Global warming and climate change scenarios require adaptation and mitigation options supported by science-based strategies and solutions.

Details

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-8692

Keywords

Content available

Abstract

Details

British Food Journal, vol. 112 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0007-070X

Article
Publication date: 8 June 2012

Sara C. Carvalho, Fátima Alves, Ulisses M. Azeiteiro and Pablo A. Meira‐Cartea

Environmental threats of immediate risk in areas such as coastal zones (CZ) have aroused new trends of citizenship and participatory democracy. The purpose of this paper is to…

Abstract

Purpose

Environmental threats of immediate risk in areas such as coastal zones (CZ) have aroused new trends of citizenship and participatory democracy. The purpose of this paper is to analyse elements within those trends, such as environmental culture, socio‐political context, dynamics of social associative movement and integration of local knowledge. It also aims to contribute to an overview of the opportunities and barriers found in considering socio‐cultural and educational challenges in CZ.

Design/methodology/approach

In this analysis, case studies of integrated coastal management occurring worldwide were selected and reviewed, considering several nuances of socio‐economic and political contexts of CZ. Experiences of public response to coastal catastrophes such the Prestige oil spill in Spain, are also described.

Findings

Whether implementing sustainable coastal management through either balanced systems (between large and small‐scale strategies) or through largely bottom‐up approaches, participation is detected as one of the main factors for a successful integrated approach. Principles such as participatory governance and social justice should be adopted in initial phases of sustainable management processes and preferably involve all of the implied actors of CZ.

Originality/value

The literature reviewed highlighted specific factors that have empirically contributed to participatory sustainability of CZ, integrating three dimensions of citizenship: education, society's dynamics and culture.

Details

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

Keywords

1 – 10 of 36