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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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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

Article
Publication date: 12 August 2022

Pwint Nee Aung and Philip Hallinger

Despite the centrality of leadership to the successful transformation of universities toward sustainability, the literature on the role and practices of sustainability

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the centrality of leadership to the successful transformation of universities toward sustainability, the literature on the role and practices of sustainability leadership in higher education remains poorly developed. To address this gap, this study aims to develop a conceptual model of sustainability leadership in higher education.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts the scoping review method to review, critique and synthesize relevant literature.

Findings

The resulting model of sustainability leadership in higher education proposes that sustainability leadership in higher education has the potential to transform university practices through reorientation and stewardship of the institutional mission and strengthening the commitment of stakeholders. Sustainability leadership has the potential to create a positive effect on a balanced set of performance indicators, as well as contributing to institutional and societal resilience in the longer term.

Originality/value

Sustainability leadership in higher education should be given prominence in its own right due to the unique organizational context of universities. This study synthesized the current discourse on sustainability leadership in higher education and its distinct attributes toward sustainable development.

Details

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 June 2022

Leyla Azizi

The implementation of sustainability-related policies at universities has been marked by a greater sense of urgency in recent years. Despite this emerging trend, it is…

Abstract

Purpose

The implementation of sustainability-related policies at universities has been marked by a greater sense of urgency in recent years. Despite this emerging trend, it is still unclear which leadership processes, at which levels and which theoretical concepts encourage sustainable transitions within universities.

Design/methodology/approach

This study aims to offer a systematic literature review of the existing literature on sustainability-related leadership processes, levels and theories that encourage the transformation of universities, aimed at providing guidance on this topic; uncovering gaps in the literature; and finding new paths for future research.

Findings

Leadership processes in the context of sustainability-related transitions have been approached in a rather fragmented way in the literature, and the scientific field would benefit from more in-depth and longitudinal studies. In total, this study identifies 95 processes that are related to 17 aspects of universities’ transitions.

Research limitations/implications

The various leadership levels are involved in transition processes at different stages. The theories of distributed and sustainability leadership seem to be the most frequently used theories in the literature.

Practical implications

Structuring and defining leadership processes, levels and theories can lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of the transition process and, in a broader sense, of the process of sustainability integration in higher education. A better knowledge of how such a transition develops could contribute to the enhancement of existing sustainable development strategy and policy.

Originality/value

By focusing on an underresearched topic through a theoretical perspective of leadership theories, this study contributes to literature pertaining to leadership levels and processes involved in sustainability transitions of universities.

Details

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 May 2022

Sameh Monna, Aline Barlet, Muhannad Haj Hussein, Denis Bruneau, Adel Juaidi and Mutasim Baba

This study aims to evaluate the current state of sustainability education and research capacity at engineering faculties. More specifically, this research is intended to…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to evaluate the current state of sustainability education and research capacity at engineering faculties. More specifically, this research is intended to provide new and much-needed information about sustainability knowledge, teaching and research activities.

Design/methodology/approach

The first method used is a questionnaire survey completed by teachers and researchers about their activities dealing with sustainability and the second is based on a systematic literature review at the SCOPUS database for scientific publications on sustainability by Palestinian universities in the Palestinian context, and the number of publications in fields related to sustainability in Scopus indexed journals.

Findings

Some institutions include more sustainability topics in their teaching courses and research activities than others. The number of courses per teaching staff and department and the sustainability contents vary among the selected universities. Teaching activities focus on environmental sustainability, especially on energy, thermal and water efficiency. The number of Scopus indexed publications in fields related to sustainability in the past 20 years is low. The highest number of published papers was those focused on environmental sustainability.

Practical implications

This study has implications for university researchers and educators by identifying the gaps between the teaching and research conducted and the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. For policymakers, the study shows that the status of sustainability in higher education, mainly at engineering schools, is still in great need for universities’ and government’s support, for example, to increase the number of published papers, number of courses and master programmes addressing sustainability.

Originality/value

This paper provides a current status for integrating sustainability education and research at engineering schools. The output of this study can be useful for future research to analyse higher education institutions’ impacts on sustainable development.

Details

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

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 4 October 2021

Katrin Kohl, Charles Hopkins, Matthias Barth, Gerd Michelsen, Jana Dlouhá, Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Zainal Abidin Bin Sanusi and Isabel Toman

Higher education and its leadership are not yet using their potential impact for a sustainable future. This paper aims to focus on UN developments and the long history of…

3542

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education and its leadership are not yet using their potential impact for a sustainable future. This paper aims to focus on UN developments and the long history of university involvement in sustainability might create more interest and understanding that sustainably oriented universities are actually possible and a much stronger role for higher education is needed when nations are discussing their future.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature review with a focus on international treaties and declarations on the UN level and international university networks, literature review of the background and potential of the whole-institution approach and the need/suggestions for further research, also to measure advancement.

Findings

History shows a strong engagement of higher education with sustainability from its beginnings. There have been strong calls/offers from within university networks to take a crucial role in moving towards sustainable development that involves more than teaching about sustainability. The international community calls for higher education to be involved in policymaking rather than simply implementation, have been limited and the full potential of higher education institutions using all opportunities such as being living labs for sustainability has not as yet been realized. Currently, calls for engagement are often still limited to training and providing research when scientific evidence is wanted.

Research limitations/implications

Literature review focused on UN level treaties/declarations English- and German-language review national developments limited to samples of members of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 subcluster in the Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) Global Cluster by the International Association of Universities (IAU).

Practical implications

Guidance for university leaders and other stakeholders to become aware of and consider a whole-institution approach. Practitioner relevance as countries is encouraged to embed UN recommendations, treaties and declarations. Defining opportunities for further research. Presenting the HESD Cluster by the IAU as a sample for new approaches of higher education to interact with the SDGs.

Social implications

Strengthening the role of higher education in the pursuit of a better future would focus on science and research as a neutral basis for decision-making and policy development. Sustainability embedded in all streams of university can help universities to be a practical example of the possibilities of sustainability at work.

Originality/value

Composition of authors with UN background and involvement. Focus on UN treaties/declarations and guidance for academics and practitioners in leadership on adopted UN and other international documents. Summarizing the background of the whole-institution approach as a genuine development over time but including limitations and implications for future roles for higher education leadership. IAU SDG 4 Subcluster is unique in its own approach and with its connections to a global network of higher education institutions and UNESCO.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 18 November 2021

Walter Leal Filho, Maria Alzira Pimenta Dinis, Subarna Sivapalan, Halima Begum, Theam Foo Ng, Abul Quasem Al-Amin, Gazi Mahabubul Alam, Ayyoob Sharifi, Amanda Lange Salvia, Qudsia Kalsoom, Mustafa Saroar and Samara Neiva

It is still unclear how Asian universities incorporate the theory or practice of sustainable development (SD) in their research and education programmes. To address this…

Abstract

Purpose

It is still unclear how Asian universities incorporate the theory or practice of sustainable development (SD) in their research and education programmes. To address this gap, the purpose of this paper is to report on a study that has examined how universities in Asian countries handle and address matters related to SD.

Design/methodology/approach

The study used a bibliometric analysis and an online survey-method. The online survey data were analysed through descriptive analysis and one-sample student’s t-test.

Findings

The study indicates that there is considerable variation among the Asian countries regarding sustainability practices in higher education institutions (HEIs). The HEIs in far eastern countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are perceived to demonstrate more sustainability practices.

Research limitations/implications

Even though a substantial number of participants participated in the survey, it did not cover all Asian countries. The online survey was carried out over a limited period of time, and not all HEIs in the field may have received information about the study.

Practical implications

Asia is the largest continent facing a number of sustainability challenges. In this context, the contribution of HEIs is very important. The findings of the current study may serve as a baseline for Asian HEIs to take more initiatives towards SD goals, as HEIs are responsible for the education and training of hundreds of thousands of students who will be occupying key positions in industry, government or education in the coming years.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the existing literature in two distinct ways. First, it was possible to develop a comprehensive instrument to measure sustainability practices in HEIs. Second, this study has filled the gap of the scarcity of studies regarding sustainability practices in HEIs in Asia.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 18 June 2021

Ahmed Farouk Radwan and Engy M. Abou Sreea Khalil

This paper aims to assess the level of knowledge, attitudes and practices adopted among University of Sharjah (UOS) students toward sustainability efforts done by their university.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to assess the level of knowledge, attitudes and practices adopted among University of Sharjah (UOS) students toward sustainability efforts done by their university.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey was emailed to students with the assistance of the UOS Sustainability Office. The survey consisted of four sections assessing knowledge, attitudes, practices and preferred media to obtain sustainability information. A total of 200 responses from male and female students, representing 4 levels of study in sciences and humanities colleges, were received. Research data is analyzed using the IBM SPSS Statistics (version 26). For assessing knowledge, eight items were developed to measure if the student knew about the university’s projects and activities in the field of sustainability. For assessing attitudes, six items were developed to indicate the level of agreement or disagreement toward main sustainability issues. For assessing practices, ten items were developed to measure the frequency of acting in a sustainable manner.

Findings

Survey results showed an advanced level of basic knowledge among university students regarding the programs and activities conducted by UOS, and a positive attitude toward these efforts and toward the importance of supporting sustainable practices. Most of the participating students disagreed with limiting the use of cars on campus – this may be because of a cultural aspect among young people in the Emirati society, who consider driving cars as an essential part of their daily life. Most students also indicated that they care about the behavior that supports sustainability in the university environment, such as rationalizing water consumption and using environment friendly products.

Research limitations/implications

The study’s limitations are that it was applied to one university – UOS. The sample of the online survey was only 200 students from undergraduate students. Different universities may have their own sets of different environmental approaches, and because of this reason, university students may exhibit different levels of knowledge, attitude and practice toward sustainability in contrast to the findings from this study.

Practical implications

Findings from this research can give decision-makers a good picture of the university’s performance in accomplishing sustainability. The authors recommend that UOS sustainability communication programs should be more comprehensive, and not only limited to protecting the environment that some students perceive as the primary aspect of sustainability. These efforts must address all economic and social aspects emphasized by the United Arab Emirates 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the current study is considered one of the first studies addressing sustainability efforts in Emirati universities and seeking to assess the level of student knowledge, attitudes and practices toward sustainability issues in the country. The study is crucial in providing better insights such as the level of knowledge, attitude and practices toward UOS sustainability performance. As found in this study, even with sufficient knowledge, students still lack the drive to convert them into actions. So, future research could investigate deeper into the barriers of converting sustainable knowledge and attitudes into practices. The results represent an added value to the research literature concerned with sustainability issues in the Arab world and the Middle East region. This paper will also contribute to the sustainability literature that will be benefited by other various organizations.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 18 January 2021

Md. Arman Arefin, Md. Nurun Nabi, Saalem Sadeque and Prasad Gudimetla

Literature limited in scope regarding the incorporation of sustainability into engineering curriculum encouraged authors to look at the current approaches of universities

Abstract

Purpose

Literature limited in scope regarding the incorporation of sustainability into engineering curriculum encouraged authors to look at the current approaches of universities to the integration of sustainability into university curricula. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the literature published and analyse the university secondary data (information published on the university websites and magazines and programme catalogues) to understand the current status of Australian universities regarding the integration of sustainability in engineering.

Design/methodology/approach

Articles and reports from different trustworthy sources have been analysed in this study. A text mining methodology was used to gather information from websites, magazines and programme catalogues.

Findings

Obtained information and data indicate that the universities are considering sustainability seriously with both internal and external stakeholders of universities working towards embedding sustainability in engineering curricula. Most of the Australian universities have successfully implemented sustainable engineering education and the rest are focussing on integrating sustainability into their engineering education curriculum.

Originality/value

This is the first review, which focusses on incorporating sustainability into the engineering education of Australian universities. However, considering current progress and also some drawbacks of the universities regarding the integration of sustainability into engineering curriculum, 15 future research questions have been developed, which should be considered to make the integration process more efficient and equip engineers who would be able to engage and tackle the environmental, personal, social and economic challenges of the twenty-first century.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 August 2021

Barbara Galleli, Noah Emanuel Brito Teles, Joyce Aparecida Ramos dos Santos, Mateus Santos Freitas-Martins and Flavio Hourneaux Junior

This study aims to answer the research question: How to evaluate the structure of global university sustainability rankings according to the Berlin Principles (BP) framework.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to answer the research question: How to evaluate the structure of global university sustainability rankings according to the Berlin Principles (BP) framework.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors investigated two global sustainability rankings in universities, The UI green metric World University Ranking (WUR) and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE-WUR). The authors performed content analysis regarding their evaluation criteria and assessed both rankings using the BP framework.

Findings

Results show that there is still a gap to be filled regarding the specificity of global university sustainability rankings. Although the THE-WUR had a better performance in this research, there are several items for improvement, especially regarding the methodological procedures. There are structural differences, limitations and points for improvement in both rankings. Besides, it may not be possible to have a unique and more appropriate ranking, but one that can be more suitable for a contextual reality.

Practical implications

This study can be helpful for university managers when deliberating on the most appropriate ranking for their institutions and better preparing their higher education institutions for participating in sustainability-related rankings. Besides, it suggests possible improvements on the rankings’ criteria.

Social implications

The authors shed light on challenges for improving the existing university sustainability rankings, besides generating insights for developing new ones. In a provocative but constructive perspective, the authors question their bases and understandings of being “the best university” regarding sustainability.

Originality/value

This is the first study that provides an in-depth analysis and comparison between two of the most important global university sustainability rankings.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 January 2021

Zeeda Fatimah Mohamad, Mohd Zufri Mamat and Muhamad Faisal Muhamad Noor

The notion of students as change agents have widely been used in the campus sustainability literature, but very little has been done to unpack what it really means in…

Abstract

Purpose

The notion of students as change agents have widely been used in the campus sustainability literature, but very little has been done to unpack what it really means in practice. This paper aims to critically investigate university students’ perspectives on their role as a change agent for campus sustainability in the context of Malaysian universities.

Design/methodology/approach

In-depth interviews were carried out with 21 students that have been categorized as change agents through selection criteria at three leading universities in the area of campus sustainability in Malaysia. The data collected from the interviews were analysed through content-based and thematic analysis.

Findings

Findings demonstrate that students are the backbone behind the implementation of campus sustainability activities. They play the multi-faceted role of leaders, supporters and ambassadors in initiating and driving campus sustainability. The results further suggest that support and freedom to act are the empowering factors that have driven these change agents in carrying out their initiatives. However, without a position, the students’ voices are not significant.

Originality/value

This study provides deeper evidence-based insights on the notion of students as change agents and how it can be operationalized in the context of campus sustainability.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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