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This volume brings together both theoretical and case study based contributions to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Institutions of Higher Education (IHE), presenting an impactful combination of authors from both developing and developed countries. While most current publications addressing the SDGs and education focus on sustainable development in general and specific topics such as climate change or energy, this book attempts to accelerate the localisation of the SDGs by presenting opportunities and innovations offered in various universities and campuses regarding SDGs localisation. The book seeks to provide an important contribution to the global dialogue on IHE and the SDGs, and will be of interest to academics and researchers engaged in the SDGs and education, as well as government agencies and other interested stakeholders.

The book focuses on curriculum and learning matters, research and development as well as community engagement. Case studies detail the integration of SDGs in academic and professional development, new approaches to implementing sustainability science instruction, improvements in teaching practices to enhance teacher competence, and responsible management education. Additional focus is placed on the alignment of the SDGs in higher education with the other goals, emphasizing technological innovation for improved human health and environmental management, and climate change policies and action plans. Interdisciplinary solutions for pressing environmental problems are also provided, making sure that no one is left behind in realising these global development goals.



1. The Context: SDGs and Institutions of Higher Education

This chapter presents the context regarding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs). The chapter comes in three major sections dealing with SDGs localisation in the teaching and learning space; SDGs localisation in the research and development space and SDGs localisation in IHE with a focus on governance and management. Apart from the 2030 Agenda for sustainable Development and its 17 intertwined SDGs, reference is made to other important global development agendas with a bearing on SDGs implementation in IHE. Such global agendas include the Paris Agreement; Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda from the United Nations’ Habitat III. The chapter concludes by presenting the Sustainable Development Goals and Institutions of Higher Education book chapter outlines covering the elements discussed in each of the 14 main chapters.
Godwell Nhamo, Vuyo Mjimba

2. Towards Realising SDGs in the University of Helsinki

Universities, such as the University of Helsinki, are facing a growing trend to redefine their strategies and organisations along the lines of sustainability. However, the process of building the structures for sustainability research and education requires the breaking down of existing disciplinary silos. In this chapter, we analyse the new initiatives in research, education and governance, and management operations to which the University committed during 2015–2018 through the lens of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We also explore the factors that enable or hinder sustainability transition at a university. The results of the SDG mapping show that SDG 4 (Quality Education) is an overarching goal represented in all new initiatives within research, education and university management. SDG 17 (Partnerships) and SDG 3 (Health and Wellbeing) are also equally strongly emphasised. However, SDGs 1 (No Poverty), SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality) are not considered, or if so, given little emphasis. Our analysis revealed that small niche innovations, tactical and operational activities at the grassroots level like networks, science activism and student awareness pushed for regime-level changes. However, the financial incentives and policy changes initiated on the regime level enabled the niche-level innovations to develop and led to strategic decisions providing a window of opportunity to initiate structural changes.
Kaisa Korhonen-Kurki, Riina Koivuranta, Virpi Kuitto, Janna Pietikäinen, Paula Schönach, Katriina Soini

3. Higher Education and the Energy Sustainable Development Goal: Policies and Projects from University of South Africa

As the world continues moving along sustainability pathways, higher education cannot be left behind. This chapter emerges from a lived experience of embarking on a roadmap for addressing energy efficiency, alternative energy and carbon management within a university set-up in response to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The work focuses on Sustainable Development Goal 7 that deals with ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Through Participatory Action Research (PAR), the chapter documents processes leading to the finalisation and subsequent implementation of the University of South Africa’s (Unisa) Energy and Carbon Policy. Three cycles informed by PAR emerged namely: the development and approval by management of a Unisa roadmap entitled the Green Economy and Sustainability Engagement Model (Cycle 1: 2012–2013); seeking outside partnerships and funding to develop the Unisa Energy Master Plan alongside the Unisa Energy and Carbon Policy (Cycle 2: 2014–2016) and ongoing project implementation and scaling up in energy efficiency and solar technologies (Cycle 3: 2017–2019). Based on these findings, one would recommend the Unisa model to other higher education institutions in South Africa and beyond as this model is functioning well.
Godwell Nhamo

4. Build It and They Will Come: The Faculty Learning Community Approach to Infusing the Curriculum with Sustainability Content

For those working towards infusing higher education curricula with sustainability content, the sustainability-based faculty learning community (SFLC) model structured around the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides an effective non-prescriptive platform to promote both understanding of systems thinking and the SDGs. The SFLC model also encourages course revision and development that include class content relevant to the SDGs. Designed for a small cohort of faculty fellows each year, the SFLC is a low-cost opportunity for institutions to encourage faculty to learn about the SDGs and apply them to their teaching, provide them with institutional support and the freedom to venture outside of their particular academic disciplines, formally connect with community partners, and aid professional development by helping instructors reimagine their teaching and research as place-based and regionally relevant. The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview and brief history of the SFLC, specifically the Ponderosa/Piedmont model, and then present in more detail a case study of the creation and development of the SFLC at SUNY New Paltz in New York. The account starts from the inception of the idea to the most recent assessment of results and plans for the future in the Hudson Valley.
Will Hong

5. Urban Metabolism and Minority Pulse: An Education and Awareness Campaign Targeting Minority Groups

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development have set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to tackle development challenges by ensuring well-being, economic prosperity, and environmental protection. The attainment of the SDGs will greatly depend on whether the identified synergies among the SDGs can be leveraged to all members of society. In contrast to conventional development agendas, this study uses the SDGs as a common language to educate vulnerable members of society through tailored method solutions, educational criteria, and interdisciplinary approaches. The study provides a replicable policy toolkit to target underrepresented populations. The case study covered the cities of Mantova and Milan, Italy. Seven identified target groups: children, elderly, people with disabilities, students and academics, women, LGBTI+, and homeless and refugees. This study designs methodology toolkits to develop awareness of urban metabolism, climate change, and resource consumption behaviors with reference to SDG 4, SDG 12, and SDG 13. Phase I consists of a campus-wide awareness initiative to create interdepartmental networks of students, researchers, and professionals studying sustainability issues. Phase II implements community-based workshops, training courses, and educational programs targeting minority. Phase III includes guidelines to inform institutions on the importance of developing synergies between citizens, public and private entities, and minorities in strategy design.
Gabriela Fernandez, Carol Maione

6. Integrating Core Sustainability Meta-Competencies and SDGs Across the Silos in Curriculum and Professional Development

Debra Rowe, president of the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development has challenged us to go beyond educating students with conceptual knowledge, rather to develop capacities to become agents for systemic change. This means integrating values, attitudes, behavior, and ethics into classrooms. Penn State University Sustainability Institute research findings articulated five sustainability meta-competencies for sustainability: system thinking, temporal thinking, interpersonal literacy, ethical literacy, and creativity/imagination. For the practitioner, this means experimenting and assessing different ways to integrate these meta-competencies into curricula. This presentation provides examples using guided inquiry with peer-to-peer learning with team wiki projects, case studies, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and reflection essays using Digication ePortfolio, Blackboard, and self-assessment exercises and instruments. We present some interesting comparisons of the New Ecological Paradigm – Revised instrument metrics and the SuLiTest Sustainability Literacy self-assessment before and after the course for classes and individuals. Limitations of these instruments and alternative quantitative and qualitative instruments are discussed. A faculty development workshop template for sustainability across the curriculum with the sustainability meta-competencies and SDGs has been developed from this experience and an Association for the Advancement of Sustainability and Higher Education (AASHE) inter- and multi-disciplinary bioregion faculty development workshop template.
Paul Woods Bartlett, Milena Popov, John Ruppert

7. Role of Higher Education Institutions in the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals

Higher education (HE) plays an important, multi-faceted role in the new global development agenda, which strives to eradicate poverty while addressing social needs such as education, health, social protection, job opportunities, climate change, food security and environmental protection. All these areas, and more, are reflected in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This chapter provides an assessment of good practices, actors, and activities in the implementation of the SDGs in higher education institutions in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. The output of this assessment is the generation of an understanding of the extent to which HE curricula and their implementation satisfy students’ sustainability-related knowledge and skills to be able to successfully deal with the current and future global socio-economic and environmental sustainability challenges. The study identifies the types of institutional arrangements that appear to be particularly conducive to mainstream SDGs as well as challenges in the implementation of the SDGs and recommends how higher education institutions may advance. This qualitative study uses a content analysis of documents to look deeply into institutional characteristics of the case studies, as well as interviews with key informants in the sector.
Leocadia Zhou, Norman Rudhumbu, Jenny Shumba, Abiodun Olumide

8. Role of Universities Towards Achieving Climate Change-Related SDGs: Case of Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe

Institutions of Higher Education, particularly universities contribute immensely to the United Nations landmark 2030 agenda and the achievement of its Sustainable Development Goals—the SDGs. Universities are uniquely placed to broken links between different sectors through fostering cross-cutting approaches to achieving the climate change-related sustainable development goals. This chapter documents the extent to which Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) in Zimbabwe contributes towards achieving the climate change-related SDGs (specifically SDG #13) through research, community engagement, and teaching. The chapter relied on desktop reviews of grey literature produced by the university in the form of reports, research records, and the CUT database. The data was interpreted using content analysis. Findings indicate that the university offers modules with components on climate change especially in the School of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SAST) as well as School of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (SWEC). The study also found that apart from taught degree programmes, some academics collaborate internally and with external stakeholders towards research activities and community programmes, which contribute towards climate change science, adaptation, mitigation, and resilience in Zimbabwe and Africa. CUT can be used as a model on how universities can translate climate-related research into policy and action through fostering linkages between academics and other stakeholders towards climate smart development initiatives.
Olga L. Kupika, Alexio Mbereko, Varaidzo Chinokwetu

9. Opportunity to Foster Urban Innovation Through Universities: The Case of Madrid

How can universities be more effective in addressing complex real-world problems? How can they promote sustainable transformations in cities? Literature shows that not only disciplinary expertise is needed, but also the ability to deal with systemic problems involving a diversity of stakeholders, with varying levels of power to design and implement solutions. It is imperative for the higher education institutions to interact with a range of actors, inside and outside the academic community, and to take into account diverse mental frameworks, languages, cultures, and interests. The Innovation and Technology for Development Centre at the Technical University of Madrid (itdUPM) has successfully managed to create a multidisciplinary collaborative network of internal and external professionals to promote action research and education for sustainable development. One of the ongoing interdisciplinary projects is a living lab (PlatformA) designed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) and MIT Climate CoLab to foster sustainable innovation in the city of Madrid. Through the fostering and sharing of processes between public and private stakeholders, PlatformA takes an innovative approach with the ultimate hope that it will boost a novel multi-actor partnership towards sustainable transformations and the Global 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and its accompanying 17 sustainable development goals.
Carlos Mataix, Julio Lumbreras, Sara Romero, Manuel Alméstar, Jaime Moreno, Javier Mazorra, Kathleen Kennedy, Annalyn Bachmann, Juan Azcárate, Ángeles Cristóbal, Rosa Ferré

10. Enhancing the Roles and Responsibilities of Higher Education Institutions in Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent a shift to ensure that sustainable development becomes the prevailing paradigm in transforming society and protecting the natural environment. Agenda 2030 reaffirms the notion of working together in partnerships. Higher education institutions (HEIs) in southern Africa can inspire future leaders to have innovative skills and mindsets of transforming societies by engaging in impactful research and embodying sustainability practices. The institutions can achieve this through promoting interdisciplinary work and problem-based learning experiences. A conceptual orientation to problems that confront HEIs is required to help clarify practices that characterize these institutions in achieving the desired sustainability. This chapter explores HEIs’ processes, aimed at escalating their roles and responsibilities in effectively implementing SDGs. The chapter is guided by three questions: (1) What are the implied roles and responsibilities of HEIs in SDGs implementation? (2) How can HEIs demonstrate participatory approaches towards effective sustainability processes, and (3) How can HEIs strengthen existing partnerships to enhance the implementation of SDGs? In addressing these questions, the chapter articulates underlying problems and existing gaps in HEIs processes with a view of initiating reforms that have an effect on enabling SDGs implementation. This may help identify knowledge gaps on sustainability, hence enabling HEIs to initiate forums that bring together relevant stakeholders to co-engage on best practices.
Mphemelang Joseph Ketlhoilwe, Ntha Silo, Kgosietsile Velempini

11. University Environmental Hackathons to Further the Sustainable Development Goals

Even as hackathons expand in scope and scale, participants and problems still remain primarily those within or entering the field of software engineering. To apply the hackathon innovation model, incorporating rapid prototyping and development for environmental problems, Earth Hacks was created. This chapter discusses the creation of Earth Hacks, a purpose-driven interdisciplinary hackathon focused on generating innovative, actionable solutions to pressing environmental problems. We also detail the multidisciplinary approach we integrated into Earth Hacks events from the onset of the planning and ideation processes, as well as how we structure judging criteria to be able to take into account the multidisciplinary nature of the projects. We discuss the ideation process and organizational structure of Earth Hacks events, as well as strategies to make hackathon follow-up successful. We believe that hackathons can be a powerful tool to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and hope to be able to create a global community of student leaders dedicated to breaking down barriers in tech and applying their skills to solving environmental problems.
Sanjana Paul

12. Learning and Teaching Practices Promoting Education for Sustainable Development: Case Studies from Social Studies and Language Education, University of Botswana

The successful achievement of the goals of education for sustainable development (ESD) primarily depend on the nature of the curriculum, teaching and learning approaches, assessment practices and teacher commitment. Research shows that, although secondary school teachers are expected to infuse global issues in their respective teaching subjects at secondary school level, in Botswana, many of them are unable to do so. Teacher education programmes are blamed for not equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to integrate such issues into their disciplines. The aim of this chapter is to share attempts made by two teacher education instructors in incorporating ESD in their courses at the University of Botswana. The key questions addressed are: (1) which pedagogical approaches can be employed in humanities disciplines to embrace ESD? (2) How can students be assessed to measure the extent to which they have acquired the knowledge, skills, and attributes needed to participate in sustainable development? Data for this chapter are based on document analysis and examples of practices from the authors’ courses. The research adopted narrative inquiry approach gathering data whose analysis demonstrates that it is possible for instructors, to transform their pedagogical and assessment practices to embrace ESD principles.
Annah A. Molosiwa, Keene Boikhutso

13. Livelihood Support Programmes for Sustainable Development Goals in Rural Nigeria

The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Nigeria, extended a livelihood support programme to neighbouring villages it adopted for its Agricultural Productivity Programme (APP). The APP included training, advisory services, and dissemination of some agricultural technologies. The targets of APP were to effectively tackle development challenges by increasing agricultural productivity and to reduce poverty and hunger (malnutrition) as entrenched in the first two Sustainable Development Goals. Four technologies were disseminated and demonstrated to the rural dwellers. The project beneficiaries were guided into personal investment using practical knowledge acquired from the demonstration. At the end of 2 years, an early impact assessment was conducted. Results revealed that the income of farmers improved from $1.81 to $3.76 a day from just two enterprises. Nutritious food such as vitamin A-fortified cassava, quality protein maize, fish, eggs, and chicken were made available to people in the rural areas. The University-led APP intervention is an empirical way of actualising the SDG at the village level.
John Adebayo Oyedepo, Oluwakemi Titilayo Irekhore, Kazeem Olajide Bello, Olalekan Jacob Olaoye, Adebukunola O. Lala, Elizabeth O. A. Oluwalana, Elizabeth Omolola Oyedepo, Akinwumi M. Omotayo

14. Transformative Innovation Policy, SDGs, and the Colombian University

The Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP) views the university as part of the national systems of innovation. Furthermore, higher education institutions are at the core of such policy. This chapter presents the contribution the Colombian University is making to selected United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs include: SDG 4—Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; SDG 16—Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels; and SDG 17—Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. The chapter describes the manner in which Colombia University was involved in drafting the National Science and Innovation Policy and document the importance of the University as a fundamental axis for a transformative structure. This is evident in the manner in which the University became a center for the generation and dissemination of knowledge, basic and applied research, and technology transfer. Such academic activities can be aligned with the TIP by following a series of recommendations to develop a public innovation policy that contributes to the country’s achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its 17 interlinked SDGs.
Eliana Villa, Daniel Cardona Valencia, Alejandro Valencia-Arias, Karen Hormechea, Jhonjali García

15. Adoption of the SDGs as a Reporting Framework at the Alma Mater Studiorum (University of Bologna) in Italy

Since 2016 the Alma Mater Studiorum—University of Bologna has been implementing an innovative strategy of measuring its performance through the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its convoying 17 goals the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and related targets. As a large sized multi-campus system with over 86,000 students, the University has the need and the duty to harmonize the relationship between the environment and people. The SDGs have been therefore adopted as standards to measure the University’s sustainability through the publishing of an annual report, included within the broader frame of its Strategic Plan. This has provided an effective push to reshape institutional and management strategies, to better plan, monitor, and strengthen accountability to stakeholders. After investigating the context, the approach has been developed, the contribution will point out the identified challenges mainly connected to the availability of data. As findings, the reports on the United Nations (UN) SDGs exposed the value of identifying indicators able to provide comparable results for setting higher education institutions (HEIs) as central actors of change in the achievement of the SDGs. The emerging pattern shows a shift from a process of basic literacy on sustainability to a political action of inner dissemination of the culture of sustainability transitioning from a subsidiary report to a comprehensive “AlmaGoals” initiative.
Angelo Paletta, Pietro Fochi, Tullia Gallina Toschi, Francesco Ubertini

16. Conclusion: Moving on with SDGs in Institutions of Higher Education

The 14 core chapters of this book clearly show that Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) are critical for propelling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (AfSD) and its accompanying 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The institutions play the dual role in the SDGs space namely: teaching to impart ‘basic’ knowledge and research to generate advanced knowledge mandate. The chapters also show that delivering the 2030 AfSD calls for a plethora of insights and skills. The SDGs agenda calls for a trans-, inter-, and multidisciplinary (TIM) approach as the spaces of engagement remain complex. Hence, discipline-oriented programming will often deliver incomplete solutions. To address this concern, this concluding chapter advances the notion of a teaching and research approach that embraces the TIM approaches in SDGs delivery by IHE and the communities they work in.
Vuyo Mjimba, Godwell Nhamo


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