Mapping of sustainability policies and initiatives in higher education institutes

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Abstract

Higher Education Institutes are being called upon to integrate sustainable development into their organisation, driven by national and international events, policies and environmental targets. This paper maps sustainability policies and initiatives of a select number of Irish and international Higher Education Institutes, exploring their integration of sustainability on-campus, testing of new ideas and technologies, and the amplification of lessons learned within society and economy. It provides a comparison of Irish Higher Education Institutes with international examples. Sixteen case studies were selected; seven from Ireland and nine international. A literature review was conducted with a focus on papers that dealt explicitly with sustainability education and outreach. Three site visits of Higher Education Institution campuses took place, as did interviews with energy and transport managers and academics of each institute. The results show the integration of sustainable development into Higher Education Institutes follows no standard approach, with the number of initiatives for sustainability outweighing the number of strategies and policies, presenting a general bottom-up process. Overall, Higher Education Institutes lack a systemic approach. The majority of initiatives focus oncampus actions, with outreach neglected. Higher Education Institutes represent significant resources in implementing sustainable development. To maximise their potential a mixture of top-down and bottom-up processes are necessary, with management support essential if sustainable development is to survive in the long-term, and for lessons learned to be successfully amplified to wider society and economy and assist in meeting national and international environmental targets.

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Shawe, R., Horan, W., Moles, R., & O’Regan, B. (2019). Mapping of sustainability policies and initiatives in higher education institutes. Environmental Science and Policy, 99, 80–88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2019.04.015

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