The Sustainable University
Progress and prospects
Edited by Stephen Sterling, Larch Maxey, Heather Luna
Foreword by Sara Parkin OBE
Routledge – 2013 – 334 pages
The direction of higher education is at a crossroads against a background of mounting sustainability-related issues and uncertainties. This book seeks to inspire positive change in higher education by exploring the rich notion of the sustainable university and illustrating pathways through which its potential can be realised. Based on the experience of leading higher education institutions in the UK, the book outlines progress in the realisation of the concept of the ‘sustainable university’ appropriate to the socioeconomic and ecological conditions facing society and graduates.
Written by leading exponents of sustainability and sustainability education, this book brings together examples, insight, reflection and strategies from the experience of ten universities, widely recognised as leaders in developing sustainability in higher education. The book thus draws on a wealth of experience to provide reflective critical analysis of barriers, achievements, strategies and potential. It critically reviews the theory and practice involved in developing the sustainable university in a systemic and whole institutional manner, including the role of organisational learning.
While remaining mindful of the challenges of the current climate, The Sustainable University maps out new directions and lines of research as well as offering practical advice for researchers, students and professionals in the fields of management, leadership, organisational change, strategy and curriculum development who wish to take this work further.
‘This is a must-read for every Vice-Chancellor, President and University Trustee of the world's 17,000 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). While less than two percent of the world's population will graduate from an HEI, these graduates will form the vast majority of the future decision makers in the private and public sectors and civil society at large. As such, our HEIs are crucial entry points in the global attempt to create a more sustainable future. Our current global HEI leaders and their respective professional organizations have a major new responsibility-addressing sustainability. Here is their handbook to "the University of the Future".’ – Charles Hopkins, UNESCO Chair in Education for Sustainable Development, York University, Canada
‘If we choose to survive, and come to live in tune with the biosphere’s processes and limits, then universities will have made an indispensible contribution. But, to do this, they will first need to change and evolve. This is a welcome book about such processes, and one that all involved in higher education should read.’ – William Scott, Professor Emeritus, University of Bath, UK
‘This book is of great importance as it clearly illustrates which path universities still need to follow towards sustainability. However, the book also indicates how much progress has already been made by some universities, and this is encouraging!’ – Gerd Michelsen, UNESCO Chair in Higher Education for Sustainable Development, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany
‘Universities have two responsibilities in relation to sustainability. The first is to educate their students, whatever their disciplines, so that they can be informed future citizens and promote sustainability in their personal and professional roles. The second is to deliver on their role as beacons of social responsibility and lead through example in their pursuit of sustainability as organisations. This book contributes substantially to the understanding of university leaders and policy makers in ensuring their organisations fulfil both these roles.’ – Nick Foskett, Professor and Vice Chancellor of Keele University, UK
‘The Sustainable University is an important contribution to the ongoing conversation about how higher education in all its aspects can transform to help create a sustainable future.’ – Geoff Chase, Dean, Undergraduate Studies and Director of the Center for Regional Sustainability, San Diego State University, USA
‘The contributors to this book are the people I believe in. They are the honest, courageous, humble, smart and tenacious agents of change toiling at the front lines in humankind’s epic struggle to save itself. The quality of mind and heart woven into these pages is beautiful in its authenticity and ambition. The effect is a chorus of shared vision, shared struggle and shared insight worthy of any reader’s time.’ – Leith Sharp, Founding Director of Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability and Founding Chair of the Sustainable Futures Academy, USA
‘This volume contains a wealth of experiences and ideas that will help higher-education institutions make a necessary and greater contribution to creating a more sustainable society. Universities should not only act as agents of change, but need to change themselves if they are to be sufficiently effective in this regard. This book shows us how.’ – Pamela S. Chasek, Professor, Government Department, and Director, International Studies Program, Manhattan College, USA
‘Like few other social institutions, universities have the freedom and the power to choose to be models of sustainable practices and relationships, and to make it part of their core business. The Sustainable University provides the rationale, strategies and exemplars for acting upon a positive choice.’ – John Fien, Professor of Sustainability, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Introduction Part 1: Context 1. The Sustainable University 2. ESD: Contesting the Market Model of Higher Education? 3. Higher Education and Sustainable Development – an International Perspective Part 2: Aspects 4. Promoting Sustainable Communities, Locally and Globally 5. Leadership 6. The Sustainable Community of a Sustainable University? 7. Curriculum and Pedagogies for ESD 8. Research at the Sustainable University: Fostering New Understandings 9. The Student Experience: Campus, Communities and Transition 10. Wellbeing Part 3: Institutional Change 11. Whole Institutional Change 12. Bottom(s) Up for Sustainability: The Kingston Experience 13. On the Journey - the Green Academy and HEA 14. The Sustainable University - Prospects
Stephen Sterling is Professor of Sustainability Education and Head of Sustainability Education at Plymouth University, and former Senior Advisor on ESD to the Higher Education Academy (HEA). He is a member of the UNESCO Expert Reference Group for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) and was a founder of the Education for Sustainability Programme at London South Bank University.
Larch Maxey is a Research Fellow with the Centre for Sustainable Futures at Plymouth University and the founding Chair of Plymouth Incredible Edibles, a student, staff and community food initiative. He has co-run several sustainable education projects, was founding Chair of Swansea University’s Sustainability Forum and is currently Director of Research with the Ecological Land Cooperative. He is the co-founder of the Transition Research Network.
Heather Luna is a freelance education for sustainability consultant, having worked with the HEA as a project coordinator from 2005 to 2011. She is a Tutor on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and University of Bradford Postgraduate Certificate in the Circular Economy. She founded Sustainable Thornbury, a Transition Initiative, and is active in the collapsonomics and Dark Mountain dialogue and explorations.