Going beyond the rhetoric: system-wide changes in universities for sustainable societies

Ferrer-Balas, Didac, Lozano, Rodrigo, Huisingh, Donald, Buckland, Heloise and Zilahy, Gyula (2010) Going beyond the rhetoric: system-wide changes in universities for sustainable societies. Journal of Cleaner Production, 18 (7). pp. 607-610. DOI 10.1016/j.jclepro.2009.12.009

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In October 2008, the 5th Environmental Management for Sustainable Universities (EMSU) international conference was held in Barcelona, Spain. It dealt with the need to rethink how our higher educational institutions are facing sustainability. This special issue has been primarily derived from contributions to that conference. This issue builds upon related academic international publications, which have analysed how to use the critical position of universities to accelerate their pace of working to help to make the transition to truly SUSTAINABLE SOCIETIES! This issue focus is on the ‘softer’ issues, such as changes in values, attitudes, motivations, as well as in curricula, societal interactions and assessments of the impacts of research. Insights derived from the interplay of the ‘softer’ issues with the ‘harder’ issues are empowering academic leaders to effectively use leverage points to make changes in operations, courses, curricula, and research. Those changes are being designed to help their students and faculty build resilient and sustainable societies within the context of climate change, the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The overall systems approach presented by Stephens and Graham provides a structured framework to systematize change for sustainability in higher education, by stressing on the one hand the need for “learning to learn” and on the other hand by integrating leadership and cultural aspects. The “niche” level they propose for innovative interactions between practitioners such as EMSU is exemplary developed by all of the other documents in this special issue. To highlight some of the key elements of the articles in this issue, there are proposals for new educational methods based in sustainability science, a set of inspirational criteria for SD research activities, new course ranking and assessment methods and results of psychological studies that provide evidence that participatory approaches are the most effective way to change values within university members in order to facilitate the development and sharing of new sustainability norms.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Business Administration > Institute for Environmental Science > Department of Environmental Economics and Technology
Environmental economics
ID Code:278
Deposited By: Dr. Gyula Zilahy
Deposited On:23 Feb 2011 10:23
Last Modified:23 Feb 2011 10:23

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