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Integrative approaches to environmental sustainability at universities: an overview of challenges and priorities

Leal Filho, W and Shiel, C and do Paco, A (2015) Integrative approaches to environmental sustainability at universities: an overview of challenges and priorities. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 12. ISSN 1943-815X

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Abstract

The principles of sustainable development are becoming extremely relevant for organisations. In the case of universities, these institutions can act as agents in promoting these principles within society. The literature contains a wide range of studies which show how universities may play a critical role in disseminating sustainability principles on the one hand, and their translation into practice, on the other. At present, many higher education institutions are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment, and trying to understand the environmental needs and implications of their operations. Going further, some universities are incorporating sustainability principles into their activities. One of the questions that universities are now facing is how education for sustainable development can be translated into practice so that it can be effective in transforming society. This paper will discuss the need for and the usefulness of integrative approaches to implement sustainable development in higher education. In addition to a theoretical review of the state of the art, the paper will use case studies from the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany) and Bournemouth University (UK) to illustrate the effectiveness of integration of sustainable development principles in university research and teaching activities, and the many benefits integrative approaches may bring about.

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