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About this book

In order to yield the expected benefits, sustainability initiatives need to be undertaken by means of a close cooperation between universities on the one hand, and societal partners on the others. The principle of co-creation and co-execution of sustainability initiatives increases the value for all by mutual learning, and the sharing of expertise and resources. But pursuing sustainability initiatives with a community and societal involvement is not simple. There is a perceived need for a better understanding of how universities can interact with society, in order to support the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This book is an attempt to address this need, by a novel approach which focuses on current potentials and challenges, across a wide range of fields and expertise. The book focuses on how the theory and practice of sustainable development interact and shows the need for a continuation of the dialogue among sustainability academics and practitioners, so as to address the issues, matters and problems at hand. The spectrum of themes addressed on this book also entails how environmental values and ethics are applied and the relationship between social, biological and cultural diversity. It also includes a broad disciplinary approach to sustainability, including education, research and case studies, and the links with human–environment relations in a sustainable development context.

Table of Contents


Sustainability-Based Approach and Methods


Moving Towards Sustainable Agriculture Through Higher Education

Farming is an integral part of sustainability. The agricultural products farmers grow help to maintain an ever increasing world population. Nonetheless, over the past years, farmers may have adopted some unsustainable practices, which have helped increase their yield and guaranteed better income. But at what cost? This paper presents a local analysis of farming and sustainability in Malta by gathering farmers’ knowledge of their agricultural practices through their life experiences. Additionally, through university outreach it tries to understand farmers’ perceptions on sustainable development and to seek the most viable means of moving towards more sustainable agricultural practices. A particular focus of the research is to explores the farmers’ attitudes in view of sustainable development and whether they are willing to implement sustainable strategies and the role of universities in achieving this. Through the research findings, a number of recommendations are suggested to aid farming practices become more sustainable. The results from this research and the university outreach activities will also help policy makers in the agricultural sector to seek the best means to collaborate with farmers and to give them the opportunity to voice their opinions and to help in the designing of a training programme for farmers. This paper will be useful to anyone interested in how university research can be successfully applied to increase the sustainability of conventional farming across communities.

Jessica Zahra, Mark C. Mifsud

Balancing Sustainable Livelihoods and Conservation in the Marine Environment

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are now a widely used tool for marine conservation and fisheries management. MPAs are an important management tool that can either help or hurt local livelihoods, depending on how they are developed, designed, and implemented. It is not unusual that fishermen resist the establishment or expansion of MPAs. This is usually done because fishermen may fear a reduction in their livelihood and also a decrease in their ability to access to their fisheries. The establishment of MPAs may therefore result in conflicts between fishers and state agencies. A further issue is that there may be increased conflicts between fishers and the tourism sector. This paper presents a qualitative analysis of stakeholders involved in the fisheries sector and the extent to which marine conservation impacts on their livelihoods. Extended interviews were undertaken with 26 stakeholders including fishermen, divers and dive centres. The study tried to address the issues through a communication and educational campaign drafted through higher education institutions. Research generally points towards the effective importance of incorporating stakeholders in meaningful participation for effective marine conservation planning and management. In actual fact MPAs are more likely to meet their biological and social goals if the human dimensions is integrated into the MPA design and evaluation process. This paper discusses a number of recommendations that increase communication channels between the authorities and the main stakeholders and the possible role of higher education institutions in mediating these channels through applied research.

Mark C. Mifsud

Linking Biodiversity and Human Health to Achieve Sustainability

In recent years, several trends have emerged that impact human lives in Malta. Some of these trends include an increase in construction activity and a heightened incidence of health conditions or illnesses, such as asthma. These trends may be justified through a multitude of reasons, but a number of factors that contribute to these trends have been identified. These factors mainly involve the weakening of the human-nature connection and illustrate how humans are becoming increasingly isolated from nature and biodiversity. This paper presents a local analysis of the abundance and unique biodiversity present on the Maltese islands and the extent to which the local adult population regard local biodiversity as integral to their health and personal well-being. Additionally, the study aims to identify gaps in knowledge and to address these gaps through transformative educational campaigns. Finally, the paper also discusses the role of higher education institutions in achieving these changes. Through the research findings, a number of recommendations are suggested to increase awareness on the links between human health and biodiversity. The results of this research will also help policy makers in the health and environmental sectors to ensure the effectiveness of efforts to increase awareness through a variety of ways including educational campaigns. This paper will be useful to anyone interested in making the link between human health and biodiversity more apparent through the application of research by Higher Education Institutions whilst fostering a transformative approach.

Deborah A. Gatt, Mark C. Mifsud

Understanding Scale in Wicked Problems of Sustainable Development: Who Needs Dedicated Courses in Higher Education?

Many universities have developed and established systems to teach engineers about societal aspects of their work. Such approaches should be mandated as it enables engineers to contribute to any transdisciplinary challenge faced by humanity. These major problems human society faces can be addressed by using the frame of the Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving these goals depends on humanity’s ability to manage our self-inflicted interconnected climate- and biodiversity-loss-crisis. Public discourse, discussions at university, or student’s work-assignments often lack an understanding of the scale of specific tasks and technical approaches needed. Scale is understood as any physical dimension involved in a human activity, or the implementation of a technical solution for aforementioned problems regionally or globally; examples of such physical dimensions are mass of resources used, amount of energy invested, or Ricardian land covered. This dearth of understanding usually results in a disregard for the environmental impact or an overestimation of benefits, it hinders realistic approaches, and can lead to irresponsible discounting of the human future. This paper addresses the interrelated questions of how to teach relevant competences and methods at university, specifically: What are the major hindrances to grasping scale in a meaningful way? Are there significant differences between students of technical and non-technical studies in understanding scale? Who would gain from learning such skills? What could be the content of a meaningful course? The paper draws on student’s assignments from engineering and from interdisciplinary courses addressing SDGs. All these courses tend to demand from the students the inclusion of comparable concepts with respect to scale. The paper will include actual arguments and considerations from Hochschule Darmstadt on implementing dedicated technology and natural-science courses for the social sciences.

Sven Linow

Presenting an Interdisciplinary Teaching Approach to Involve University Students in Issues of Sustainable Development

This paper presents an interdisciplinary course for university students. In its conceptualization, lecturers from different scientific fields collaborated to develop a pedagogical-didactic curriculum which offers students the opportunity to learn about climate change adaptation, deepen their understanding of the political system in their federal state (in this case Saxony-Anhalt) and exchange ideas on an interdisciplinary basis. According to the authors, the idea of this course is particularly interesting for teachers in higher education addressing sustainable development, as it is adaptable to other interdisciplinary topics and is particularly suited to discuss current social issues from different perspectives. The course is carried out as a political simulation game. On a state level, students take on the role of ministers and government officials and develop climate change adaptation bills in small interdisciplinary groups. To foster students’ knowledge on this topic and provide insight into recent developments, experts are invited for workshops covering different aspects of climate change adaptation. Towards the end of the course, a change of roles takes place as students change from ministers and government officials to members of parliament to discuss and vote on the proposed bills. The course ends with a “press conference” where the developed laws are presented to the public.

Franziska Körner, Henning Strubelt, Hartwig Haase

Methods of Transdisciplinary Collaboration Within Sustainable Research and Development Projects

Sustainable solutions for the implementation of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) can only be achieved through the cooperation of actors from different scientific disciplines and practitioners from various sectors. The involvement of stakeholders in sustainable decision making has become increasingly important. This leads to scientific requirements, which are part of the “Mode 2 science” concept. This concept, already introduced in the 1990s, provides a context-dependent, participatory, inter- or transdisciplinary perspective on problems and research topics. This joint work of scientists and practitioners on real life problems is also referred to as transdisciplinary research (TDR). The paper presents and compares the methodological approaches Citizen Science, Living Labs and Third Mission. It also assesses them in relation to the requirements for transdisciplinary cooperation in a way that decision-making is supported. The methods that lead to such a decision-making support are applied to specific case studies in the field of climate protection and climate adaptation. Finally, recommendations regarding more effective and innovative methods, future transdisciplinary and sustainable projects are derived.

Andrea Heilmann, Hardy Pundt

Universities as ‘Global Citizens’: Reflections and Learning from a Project on Female Leadership for Sustainable Development of Fishing Communities in Colombia

Research funding for projects in countries that are on the list of Official Development Assistance (ODA)—which is a measure of flows of international aid - has increased over the years. Universities have been working on projects through these funding streams that focus on sustainable development. Therefore, there has been an increase in funded research on sustainable development. However, sustainable development research in the Global South funded by international aid can be seen as paternalistic and neocolonial. Using Brookfield’s lenses, this paper presents the reflections of the researcher/educators on a research project in one of the ODA countries: Colombia. The project focused on female leadership for sustainable development in a rural fishing community and was funded by the QR Global Challenges Research fund. The paper explores the learning related to symmetrical and asymmetrical power relations, agency and identity as perceived by three researcher/educators. Finally, it examines the potential of these types of projects for universities’ critical global citizenship.

Valeria Ruiz Vargas, Alicia Prowse, Lina Maria Barrios

Geography of Food Summer School: International Exchange for Sustainable Food Value Chains

Providing regular access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for a growing population without depleting natural resources is one of the key challenges of the twenty-first century. Universities can play an important role in educating future decisions-makers to be able to design sustainable food value chains (FVCs) that contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN Agenda 2030. We present the ‘Geography of Food’ educational programme as an example for sustainability education through intercultural exchange. The programme not only focusses on knowledge transfer and participatory problem-solving approaches, but also acknowledges the importance of international exchange to facilitate joint learning and experience capitalization. For this purpose, the programme has been realized as a blended learning course including e-learning, individual case studies and an international summer school. Each year, the summer school took place at one of the three participating universities in India, Slovenia and Switzerland and was dedicated to one specific SDG with special relevance to the food system. From 2017 to 2019, a total of 87 students from 20 different countries participated in the programme. The evaluation showed that participants highly appreciated the e-learning course and the programme of the study period. The opportunity for international and intercultural exchange during the study week period was especially highlighted. The blended learning course design therefore proved to be very suitable. However, room for improvement could still be identified. Opportunities may arise from (i) a better integration of students’ backgrounds into the programme to benefit more from their interdisciplinarity, (ii) more directly addressing cultural differences to improve cross-cultural education and (iii) a more methodological problem-solving approach to find more creative and elaborated solutions.

Isabel Jaisli, Roman Grüter, Bernadette Oehen, Marina Pintar, Umesh Kontrakere Basegowda

The Role of Higher Education Stakeholder Networks for Sustainable Development: A Systems Perspective

Can stakeholder organisations support and put pressure on organisational change at universities to implement sustainable development? In recent years, universities across the world have made progress in both promoting and implementing sustainable development (SD). However, despite the fact that the United Nations message that stakeholder participation is crucial for the implementation of sustainable development (in particular SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals), research on the role of higher education stakeholder networks in the context of organisational change towards sustainable development remains underdeveloped. First, the paper discusses state of the art literature on the role of stakeholder networks for the implementation of sustainable development in higher education. Secondly, using a systemic approach the paper explores some potential steps for addressing the practical and policy challenges required to support the implementation of sustainable development through the role of stakeholder networks. The paper then critiques the present and future prospects of such relationships. This paper will present a systemic perspective of how universities can be more attuned and adapt to continue the promotion of sustainable development goals amongst their community of influence. It will also be useful for practitioners and policy makers working to address sustainable development implementation challenges in higher education.

Valeria Ruiz Vargas, Alberto Paucar-Caceres, David Haley

Corporate Sustainability Benchmarking in Academia: Green Campus, Living Labs, Socioeconomic and Socioenvironmental Initiatives in Brazil

This study explores benchmarking as a means to promote and exploit good practice for sustainability in higher education institutions. This paper presents an evaluation of a sample group of universities located in different regions of Brazil’s southern state of Santa Catarina with respect to three parameters, namely, their implementation of policies and strategies in relation to the initiatives of Green Campuses, Living Labs and the improvement of socioeconomic and socioenvironmental sustainability. Applying these parameters, the paper compares the Brazilian HEIs with similar ones in Europe and the United States of America in order to reveal best practices in sustainability.

Mario Corrêa de Sá e Benevides, José Baltazar Salgueirinho Osório de Andrade Guerra, Robert Samuel Birch, André Borchardt Deggau

What About the Human Side of Climate-Induced Migration? The Role of Universities in Improving Refugees’ Wellbeing by Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals

The world is facing large scale involuntary migration as never before; however, these refugees are treated as numbers, not as human beings. Refugees frequently migrate to cities, staying in less developed zones, or in refugee camps. In both situations, migrants are exposed to countless threats like zoonotic diseases, diseases caused by poor sanitation, violence, hunger and malnutrition. By ignoring the human side of migrants, governments and civil society are condemning entire generations of people to a life of misery, segregation, emotional imbalances and lack of possibilities for the future. International networks and universities are key elements to increase these people’s protection, safety and wellbeing. They promote international assistance and support through procedures, such as basic aid (food, health and housing), education, social inclusion and sanitation. Therefore, this study aims to analyze how universities can contribute towards improving refugees’ wellbeing by implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. To reach this goal, a qualitative approach was used to collect and analyze the necessary data, followed by interviews with seven university managers. Universities have the knowledge and the resources to promote education and capacity building, to teach the local language, and technically and culturally prepare these refugees to fit in the host country. Universities can engage refugees in their campuses and events, also promoting assistance to improve the sanitation and hygiene on refugee camps to improve health and wellbeing.

Issa Ibrahim Berchin, João Marcelo Pereira Ribeiro, Brenda Caroline Geraldo Castro, Jonas Moraes-Filho, José Baltazar Salgueirinho Osório de Andrade Guerra

Critical Thinking, Moral Courage, and Sustainable Development Goals. Universities as a Driving Force for Societal Change

This essay proposes that the university is the starting point of change and the point zero for the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is argued that the university should reassume its moral ground, a teleological humanistic role, in which sustainability is the prime principle. To engage in critical thinking (CT) learning activities is also to develop courage, grit, and determination. Quality higher education involves critical thinking development because it should develop the personality for future work, as the World Economic Forum (2018), declared, identifying critical thinking as the third, in order of importance, among the required skills for twenty-first century jobs. However, if we also consider the SDGs, and in particular Goal 4, we realize that there must be another key ingredient to a successful education for the future, viz. moral and argumentative courage. Critical thinking is more than argumentation skills; it is a complex psychological reality (Dumitru in Proc Soc Behav Sci 33:143–147, 2012) comprising also dispositions for critical thinking (Facione in Critical thinking: a statement of expert consensus for purposes of educational assessment and instruction. Research findings and recommendations. The California Academic Press, Millbrae, 1990). Through developing these personality features, which requires a long period of time, another personality trait will emerge, namely courage, a virtue which is essential in tackling inequalities, achieving peace, and progressing toward building better institutions. Educating for CT in higher education means building the mental infrastructure which will allow the growth of character and values, including the courage and fortitude necessary to pursue the fulfillment of the SDGs. Only the brave can live authentically.

Daniela Dumitru

Sustainable Development: An Analysis Based on Conference Papers

This paper analyzes the significance of international conferences for higher education institutions’ (HEIs) promotion of sustainability by examining their published papers. This study not only allows the understanding of the state of the art but also, based on the identified gaps, sheds light and gives a north for future studies of Sustainable Development. The citations of works published from 2015 to 2019 were analyzed in a sample of 489 articles published in international periodicals included in the Web of Science database related to the subject of sustainable development in higher education. Classic text statistics, similarity analysis and word cloud are used to analyze the articles published on the World Sustainability Symposium, Bridge International Conference 2019 exploring its results and contributions to promote sustainability. The findings suggest that in addition to cooperation, participation and collaboration between institutions, international conferences sponsored or organized by HEIs have the potential to promulgate interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to addressing global sustainability challenges. In the international conferences analyzed the diverse array of disciplines and research teams illustrate this point. International conferences may be used for communicating the scientific results to stakeholders and send strong messages on sustainability-related issues.

Carlos Rogério Montenegro de Lima, André Borchardt Deggau, Gisele Mazon, Thiago Coelho Soares, José Baltazar Salgueirinho Osório de Andrade Guerra

Strategic Planning for a Sustainable Development Centre Using the Balanced Scorecard

The aim of this study was to present the results of the strategic planning process and the use of the Balanced Scorecard as a strategy management system for the Center for Sustainable Development/Research Group on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (Greens), University of Southern Santa Catarina (Unisul). Data collection technique, interviews, unsystematic observation, documentary and bibliographic research were used. As for the data analysis technique, content analysis and triangulation were used. As a result of the Strategic Planning and through the process of adapting the Balanced ScoreCard tool (BSC), it was possible to unfold the strategy in more objective terms at the individual level of each member, since everyone, now, could “see each other” where each one contributed to the process and what were its objectives and goals. In conclusion, it is understood that it is possible to incorporate the use of new administrative tools to develop excellence in research, contributing to the academic debate and allowing this action to be replicated in countless other universities and research groups in the world.

Mauricio de Andrade Lima, Gisele Mazon, Brenda Caroline Geraldo Castro, Stephane Louise BocaSanta, José Baltazar Salgueirinho Osório de Andrade Guerra

Drawing Sustainability: Helping Students to Know What They Know

Traditionally individuals’ recognition of learning within education for sustainability has relied on tutors’ feedback and assignment grades. However, with the growing need for work-ready sustainability graduates within the business community, which is increasingly adopting the Sustainable Development Goals as the framework for a sustainable business future, calls for more innovative learning approaches that encourage students’ reflection and self-analysis to know what they know are emerging. In response a reflective and self-analytical learning activity has been implemented: drawing sustainability. The paper presents findings from a three-year study into the effectiveness of engaging students in drawing sustainability. The study finds drawing sustainability has three potential outcomes. Firstly, it can encourage students to know what they know, which in turn can increase confidence and higher cognitive skills; both contribute to development of work-ready sustainability graduates. Secondly it can benchmark students’ learning, and thirdly it can encourage students to form an image of sustainability to reflect upon and relate personal sustainability practices to society and the environment. This paper will be of interest to educators seeking reflective and self-analytical learning activities within Education for Sustainability that can encourage students to know what they know and use this knowledge to contribute to a sustainable future.

Kay Emblen-Perry

We Can Only Do It Together: Addressing Global Sustainability Challenges Through a Collaborative Paradigm

Urgent structural change is required in higher education to allow collaboration both within and across universities so that achieving a rapid sustainability transition can become the overarching and main purpose of education, research and work in society. A review of the literature reveals that fragmentation, caused by traditional hierarchical faculty and disciplinary organisation, is a major obstacle to such goals. Additionally, universities today operate under a competitive paradigm that prevents the transfer and application of available knowledge, thereby blocking the development of new knowledge and coherent future-oriented approaches. Fragmentation and competition prevent universities from pooling resources, understanding major challenges holistically and using systemic approaches to address them. Political agendas, funding priorities and existing mechanisms of dissemination and evaluation of academic activity contribute to inertia. Rather than applying fragmented sustainability goals within rigid silo structures, action for sustainability needs to be coordinated among academic actors both horizontally and diagonally. This requires spaces for strategic thinking, concertation, open discussion and knowledge sharing. The insights achieved in strong sustainability research environments need to direct efforts towards achieving a rapid sustainability transition, and priority must be given to structures, networks and research that already enable concertation and collaboration.

Helen Avery, Birgitta Nordén

Change Project Approach for Reorienting University Teaching Towards the Implementation of Sustainability Principles

The role of universities in shaping the future of society cannot be underestimated, as current students could become the potential leaders of tomorrow. Therefore, universities should serve as a basis for preparing future socio-ecological skills and values essential for a sustainable living, by reorienting current unsustainable ways of thinking and doing. This paper discusses the critical role that the Change Project Approach plays in creating the social transformation processes and actions required to reach the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals, enabling sustainable development in interdisciplinary university teaching. The Change Project Approach intervention has been highlighted in the university cases from the Baltic Sea region that have demonstrated important efforts to reorient university curricula. Through the Education for Sustainable Development course for teachers of Baltic University Programme, the purpose of the intervention is to stimulate the integration of sustainability education approaches into university teaching and learning. It demonstrates how sustainability competences may be acquired through learning initiatives, feasible to replicate within and across university departments and university institutions.

Oleksandra Khalaim, Tatjana Tambovceva, Lovísa Eiríksdóttir, Shepherd Urenje

Case Studies on Sustainable Development at Universities


Education for Sustainable Development: A University Perspective

Universities have a number of functions in developing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): conducting study/teaching process themselves, participation in the development of study materials for other fields of studies, involvement in the development of study methods, as well as a responsibility for Sustainable Development Science. An equally important role of universities in the ESD process is the “training of trainers”—preparation of new teachers, who are aware of the need to promote the sustainable development process, are equipped with a systemic understanding of processes in the society and natural world, and know the local culture and traditions. The Aichi-Nagoya Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development clearly defines tasks for universities in promoting ESD. Due consideration to the complexity and diversity of issues related to the implementation of ESD is extremely important for identifying priorities and actions by universities, so that the contribution of academic stakeholders in promoting the ESD process could be optimised. For universities, the priority action to promote ESD is their involvement in the development of an ESD-supporting educational system—a task to which the contribution of university actors can be most efficient. Another priority task is the development of study approaches and study materials to support the implementation of ESD in all study programmes at a university level. A further challenge concerns a new initiative aimed at strengthening the links between ESD and Science Education in order to promote the Education for Environmental Citizenship.

Maris Klavins

Students’ Perception of Campus Sustainability in a Brazilian University

Over recent decades, higher education institutions (HEIs) have been recognised as ideal leaders in supporting the transition to sustainable societies. Leading by example, they have been embarking upon committing themselves to sustainability by incorporating sustainable development practices (SDP) into their integrated management system. As a major stakeholders group, students play a significant role in moving this agenda forward. This study aims to develop an assessment framework to evaluate the students’ perception of campus sustainability, based on a Brazilian HEI case study. A survey was assembled using five demographic questions, three dichotomous questions, and 43 items resorting to a 1–5 Likert scale and administered to a sample of 207 undergraduate technology students. Through exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, a reliable scale emerges with 31 items grouped into eight dimensions: Waste; Emissions/Procurement; Energy; Quality of Life in the Workplace (QLW); Fauna and Flora; Institutional Framework; Education/Research; and, Water. The dimensions explain 68.50% of the total model variance. The lowest-evaluated dimension was Emissions/Procurement, with a 2.26 average value, followed by water (2.27) and Energy (2.28); all three of these were below the scale’s midpoint. The best-evaluated dimension was Education/Research, with an average of 3.30. This research provides an insight into HEI students’ sustainability perception and into how the university decision-makers could improve the sustainable practices to increase the students’ engagement.

Claudio R. P. Vasconcelos, Paula Ferreira, Madalena Araújo, Davidson Cordeiro, Shammio M. Dias Silva

Sustainability Concept (Whole-Institution Approach) of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (Germany)

The Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU) is one of the few universities in Germany that consequently follow a whole-institution approach with their overall sustainability concept. Already in 2010, the KU had agreed on a sustainability concept that stipulates objectives and measures for the three action areas of research, teaching and campus management and operations. Meanwhile, the action areas have been expanded by three additional fields (governance, transfer and student initiatives and commitment) in accordance with the latest scientific findings. In the field of governance, structural implementation was supported by appointing a sustainable development coordinator, and by the creation of the position of a campus environmental manager and the establishment of a steering group. Since 2012, a sustainability report is issued annually. Approximately 15 professorships from different subject areas carry out research on different topics connected to sustainable development and share their expertise with their students in a joint lecture series that is open to all KU students. In 2010, the KU established its Master’s degree program in “Education for Sustainable Development” and since 2019, all KU students have the possibility to acquire a “sustainable development” certificate worth 20 ECTS credits. In connection with its campus management, the KU was awarded the EMAS certificate in 2015 and it was the first German university to be awarded the EMASplus certificate in 2018. Within its transfer practice, the KU has established a sustainability cluster. The entire sustainability process is supported by a number of student initiatives at the KU. Several awards mark the successes on the KU’s path towards becoming a more sustainable university. Furthermore, the KU has established collaborations with the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences and the Eichstätt municipality.

Ingrid Hemmer, Anne-Kathrin Lindau

Perspectives of Climate Change Adaptation in Organizations—A University’ Example

In order to promote the adaptation of organizations to climate change (as indicated in SDG 13), the Harz University of Applied Sciences has carried out a variety of projects on a number of subjects. Student’s projects, such as Bachelor- and Master theses, as well as projects in close cooperation with different stakeholders have contributed to valuable experiences and well-founded concepts. This paper will focus on a project which led, among others, to the outcome that spatial and climate data, on the one hand, and tools to process them, on the other, are indispensable for the development of concepts for adaption to climate change. Organizations that are willing to support a sustainable, climate-friendly development must seek ways that result in concrete and implementable measures. The paper will describe selected perspectives briefly, with a focus on an organization, in this case a university. The perspectives concern, among others, the integration of research findings with curricula and with ideas of how climate change adaptation measures can be implemented. These measures result from the collaboration between a university and stakeholders outside university using adequate data and data services.

Hardy Pundt, Martin Scheinert, Andrea Heilmann

Exploring New Technology’s Meaning for a Sustainable Future via Collaborative Science-Fiction Prototyping: A Novel Method for the Engineering Curriculum

In technology management and engineering, university students learn how to drive technology, develop new solutions and bring them to market. Once they enter the labor force, they develop a vital part of the solutions available for shaping a sustainable future for our society. But technology cannot be considered apart from the inter-disciplinary systems it is embedded in. Therefore, universities need to equip their students with the skills and drive necessary to reflect on new technology’s interplay with our society, incorporating this holistic awareness into their work process. How can they enable these tech-workers-to-be to integrate a sustainability mindset into the development of novel technologies right from the start, empowering them to contribute to a desirable future as efficacious members of our society? This paper presents a collaborative learning format (and accompanying analysis and evaluation) developed for students from various disciplines and semesters at the University of Stuttgart, aiming to provide guidelines for educators to use. Through combining science-fiction prototyping and storytelling games, students learn how to approach complex problems in the context of the factory of the future and its associated technologies, developing their own sustainable “worlds”. Students cooperatively explore futuristic ideas, reflecting on their implications on a societal as well as technological level, which facilitates holistic solution-finding and communication skills for complex questions of our common future.

Johanna Kleinen, Lisa Kurz

“The Value of Mixed Teaching Methods in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals—An Evaluation of a Compulsory Course Using the Example of a Large Group of Students”

The task of the German higher education system is to implement Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in teaching within the framework of Agenda 2030. A special focus is on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This article deals with the implementation of these goals in connection with the use of different teaching methods in mass courses. As good practice, the course in the Bachelor of Business Administration at the Bremen University is used here. The case is used to outline the extent to which different teaching and learning methods (four dimensions of academic teaching) can be used in a larger group to develop a deeper understanding of SDGs among students. This article clearly highlights that it is possible to implement ESD and in particular the SDGs in academic teaching. One of the main result is that different teaching and learning methods enable students to look at the topic from different perspectives and thus acquire in-depth knowledge of the SDGs and the Agenda 2030.

Nadine Husenbeth, Merle Katrin Tegeler

“Evolution of Knowledge Sharing of Education for Sustainable Development in the Digital Space—Insights from Two Research Projects”

The integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into the universities poses new challenges for the German university landscape. Learning to act in the interests of sustainable development is complex and sometimes calls the university teaching system into question. How is the German higher education system structured? How is ESD already integrated into teaching and what requirements does this entail? This article deals with these questions before going on to look at the possibilities of digital teaching of ESD. Subsequently, two examples of digital ESD mediation are presented and their successes and limitations are discussed in detail.

Jonas Joachims, Katharina Lingenau

Climate Change Education in Ukrainian Universities: Addressing Transformative Education for Sustainable Development

There is uncertainty on whether universities, being responsible for shaping the future of society, properly address current ecological and socio-cultural challenges caused by climate change. In Ukraine, Education for Sustainable Development, and Climate Change Education in particular, are neither clearly visible in official policy documents on higher education, nor properly reflected in the national targets of Agenda 2030. This paper argues that Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development (CCESD) has the potential for effective teaching and learning opportunities in Ukrainian higher education. Major objectives are to identify functional factors in the Ukrainian system of formal higher education that promote or hinder CCESD’s embedment, and thus strengthen transformative ESD. The paper analyzes the current situation on CCESD presence in Ukrainian formal university education, as well as quality teaching and learning through transformational perspectives of CCESD in formal university education and ways of its methodological enforcement. Based on the analysis of both crosscut survey organized in three Ukrainian universities and in-depth interviews with university teachers that include CCESD in their work, the paper provides a set of recommendations on transformative learning implementation in formal university education regarding CCESD. In addition, implementation progress on the national targets of Sustainable Development Goals № 4 and № 13 is scrutinized.

Oleksandra Khalaim, Shepherd Urenje

University Outreach and Their Contribution for the Sustainable Development Goals: A Case of Study Focused on Smart and Learning Cities

University campuses can be seen as small cities and as potential living laboratories where improvements related to population well-being can be developed and tested for application in larger urban centers. With regard to university outreach through extension projects, universities play a significant role as examples to improve sustainable development and the quality of life for the regional community. Thus, the aim of this paper is to present an outreach project developed by a Brazilian university, with focus on smart and learning cities and, in parallel, highlight the social impact of the project as well as its contribution to achieving the UN SDGs. To do so, the methodology of this paper was divided in three steps. The first step is focused on the diagnosis of the project under study, the second step aimed at identifying the activities promoted by the project and finally, the third step analyzed the activities promoted regarding their contribution to the consolidation of the SDGs in the region. This paper highlights the contribution from universities to the implementation of SDGs through their extension projects and could encourage actions in similar contexts.

Luciana Brandli, Janaina Mazutti, Liane Dalla Gasperina, Michele Rocha Reolão, Roberto Dos Santos Rabello

USP’s Environmental Policy in the SDGs Approach

The University of São Paulo (USP) Environmental Policy (EP) advocates the University’s environmental issues addressed in 11 different themes, implemented through Environmental Master Plans (EMPs) and Pilot Projects (PPs), respecting their specificities at each university campus. This study aimed to assess USP sustainability actions’ adherence through its EP/USP and PPs, with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the United Nations (UN). The study was carried out using a specialist analysis consensus and the subsequent representation of associations throughout graph theory. The analysis here presented has shown USP’s environmental actions constancy to the SDGs: (i) in its EP, presenting alignments with SDGs 11 (Sustainable cities and communities), 15 (Life on land) and, 4 (Quality education); and (ii) in its PPs on different USP’s campuses, that are in agreement with SGDs 11, 15, 12 (Responsible consumption and production) and, 6 (Clean water and sanitation). The results suggest that USP develops its activities based on the green campuses management, working side by side with society to build sustainable communities and in compliance with the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Tércio Ambrizzi, Tamara Maria Gomes, Fernanda da Rocha Brando, Flávio Pinheiro Martins, Tadeu Malheiros, Denise Crocce Romano Espinosa, Paulo Santos de Almeida

Women’s Empowerment Initiatives in Brazilian Universities: Cases of Extension Programs to Promote Sustainable Development

The recognition of the role played by women in society in the political, social and academic fields is increasingly being discussed. The objective is to mitigate gender inequalities maintained by historical and cultural obstacles and, therefore, to achieve ways for women’s empowerment. In this sense, universities can contribute positively. They can do so mainly through extension programs that promote the United Nations Fourth and Fifth Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, higher education institutions have a fundamental role in connecting science with the community. Also, there is currently a low percentage of women working in the area of exact and technological sciences, both academically and in other market sectors. That said, through a qualitative approach and bibliographic research, this article aims to explore the role of Brazilian universities in contributing to the empowerment of women in science. Through this objective, the extension programs carried out by Brazilian universities in southern Brazil, the Maternal-Child and Family CareProgram and the Girls in Science Program will be discussed. In this way, new perspectives on university extension programs will be outlined and analyses of how these initiatives include women in careers such as science and technology will be made. This inclusion, however, requires initiatives by the government, universities and society to finally minimize gender inequalities.

Carla Patricia Finatto, Camilla Gomes da Silva, Gabriela Carpejani, José Baltazar Salgueirinho Osório de Andrade Guerra

Implementing a Sustainability Plan on a Small, Young Campus in Brazil

The Planaltina campus (FUP) is one of four campuses that make up the University of Brasilia. With an interdisciplinary organization, FUP was established in 2006 and consists of 116 teachers, 137 staff and 1355 undergraduate and graduate students. The issue of sustainability is related to the various undergraduate courses offered and the profile of professors. However the formalization of sustainability within campus management actions began only in 2010 with the creation of a full-time coordinator of environmental issues on campus. In 2012, the issue of sustainability was formally associated with campus policies and missions from its insertion into the Institutional Pedagogical Political Project. Then, in 2019, a working group was organized to draw up a sustainability plan for the campus, which included the proposition of sustainability indicators as well as an assessment of and data collection for the first campus sustainability report. This paper presents the participatory process of preparation of the plan, as well as the indicators that make up the structure of the report. The discussion of the process is made in light of the context in which the campus is inserted.

Marcelo Bizerril, Leandro Oliveira Evangelista, Philippe Pomier Layrargues, Elaine Nolasco, Maria Cristina Oliveira, Luiz Henrique Oliveira, Rômulo Ribeiro, Antônia Roberto Sousa, Luiz Felippe Salemi

Development and Delivery of a Sustainable Development Unit in UK Universities: A Higher Education’s Guide for Future Sustainability Leaders

In 2016, the University of Bristol launched its institution-wide, interdisciplinary Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) initiative. Bristol Futures (BF) is formed of two parts: a free online course available to university students and the public, and an optional, credit-bearing unit available to all undergraduate students. This initiative encourages learners to understand the role that everyday behaviours have in creating and mitigating global environmental challenges. This paper profiles the Sustainable Futures (SF) pathway: one of three pathways within the BF initiative. SF offers innovative education to students that illuminates the role of their core discipline, and its relationship to others, in solving sustainable development challenges. In doing so, it encourages them to become engaged citizens and agents in both understanding and addressing the challenges that humanity faces, whilst giving them a broad educational experience which enhances their future employability. By adopting a challenge-based, post-disciplinary approach to global challenges (and therefore Education in Sustainable Development (ESD)), and through the combination of a range of learning and teaching methods including multimedia platforms, blended learning and flipped classrooms, Bristol University’s model of teaching ESD in the Anthropocene is presented. This work demonstrates the fusion of the key characteristics that has allowed for the BF curriculum to enhance student learning, and provide interdisciplinary engagement with complex challenges in a way that forms Sustainable Development leaders of the future.

Eleni Michalopoulou, Aisling Tierney, Ed Atkins, Tabitha Stanmore, Lin Ma, Natalie Jester, Chris Preist

The “Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Teaching Map” and Other Innovative Teaching Formats

In view of the ongoing transformation of traditional management towards sustainable management, a future-oriented teaching approach, to sensitise today’s students to becoming more responsible decision-makers, is of the utmost importance. To facilitate this shift, curricula need to be critically evaluated and restructured, to address the lack of sustainability competences. The three presented course concepts, namely “21-Day Challenge,” “Sustainability Escape Room” and “Future Sustainability Manager,” help reorient the business student curriculum under the SDG Teaching Map umbrella. The underlying reasoning behind the SDG Teaching Map will be highlighted by referring to four literacy clusters, each of which addresses shortcomings in the university curriculum, as illustrated by the example of the CBS International Business School.

Elisabeth Fröhlich, Marina A. Schmitz, Silvia Damme

The Implementation of the SD Programs for Management Curriculum: The Experience of Plekhanov Russian University of Economics

The present work describes the approach of Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (PRUE) to develop the course “Environmental management in EU” and to introduce the Sustainable Development Goals in management curricula. The process of course development included the following steps: study of the concept of Sustainable Development, Environmental problems, and Indicators of Sustainable Development; study of the European environmental legislation taking as an example the European Environment Agency (EEA); study of the European Environmental Action Programs (European Commission for Environment); study of documents from different conferences, scientific and political reports; and use of all these materials as basis for developing the course material. The course consists of lectures, seminars and computer labs and is a part of the syllabus for managers and economists in the Minsk Branch of PRUE. As part of a cyclical approach to environmental management, the development of the main stages, such as problem definition, environmental monitoring, practical approaches to problem resolution, and the regulatory framework, are considered. The cause-effect relationship between the problems of sustainable development and their interaction and interdependence are shown. Although education in the field of environmental management has received some attention in Russian and Belarusian universities, the established programs do not contain sufficient information about the development of this area in the European Union. The proposed program is the first experience of such a study, combining the regulatory framework and practical research in the field of environmental management in the European Union.

Siarhei Zenchanka, Nikolai Gorbatchev, Fernanda Frankenberger, Amanda Lange Salvia

Sustainable Development in Higher Education Institutions: Accounting for Sustainability in Higher Education Institutions by a Data Mining Analysis of Publications

Higher education institutions (HEIs) play an important role in achieving and promoting sustainable development in their surroundings and integrating with communities. They can be considered as central agents for sustainable development due to their ability to deal with challenges, opening opportunities for the creation of local or global smart solutions, linking the academic community, civil society, decision-makers and stakeholders. Accounting for sustainability in terms of physical data and presenting this information in a clear and meaningful way goes some way to addressing the major challenges and risks posed by sustainability-related issues. The work presented in this article examines how a global analysis of the publication output from HEIs can provide a measureable metric for sustainability in their operational management, research and teaching activities. This investigation is achieved using a data mining method based on a semi automatic approach for the recognition, correlation and extraction of named entities and relations from textual documents.

Samara da Silva Neiva, Wellyngton Silva de Amorim, André Borchardt Deggau, Rafael Gustavo de Lima, Gabriélli do Livramento Gonçalves, Flávio Ceci, Robert Samuel Birch, José Baltazar Salgueirinho Osório de Andrade Guerra

Introduction of the Research Project EcoING—Development and Implementation of an Ecodesign Learning Factory for the University Engineering Education

Environmental issues have become increasingly important for manufacturing companies. To date, however, most methodological approaches for a sustainable product design, such as Ecodesign are seldomly used. A central starting point for alleviating this situation, is an early and long-term sensitization of future product developers in the course of their university education. So far, Ecodesign has hardly found its way into the mechanical engineering curricula. In this context, the research project “EcoING – Development and implementation of an Ecodesign Learning Factory for the university engineering education” pursues the goal of enabling engineering students, with the help of a new educational concept, to ecologically improve products without impairing their technical and economical properties. The innovative essence is here the unique transfer of the concept of a learning factory to the field of environmentally compatible product development. In the realistic learning environment of the learning factory, students can acquire the necessary environmentally relevant skills and competencies and deepen them effectively through their immediate application. The practical relevance is ensured by close cooperation with industrial companies. In this chapter, the motivation and contents of the research project “EcoING” are presented and the approach for the conception of the new course is described based on selected examples.

Daniela Kattwinkel, Beate Bender

Universities, Sustainability and Society: A SDGs Perspective

This final paper outlines some of the current and future issues surrounding sustainability and society, and how they relate to the implementation of the UN SDGs. The central message of the paper is that, in order to ensure that societally relevant pathways to sustainable development are followed, and in order to implement the SDGs, a set of key components is needed in teaching, extension and in outreach initiatives as part of the so-called “third mission”.

Walter Leal Filho
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