This research from the EAUC has firmly dispelled the myth that there is a one size fits all approach to embedding sustainability in post-16 education.
As universities and colleges reflect on how they can contribute towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and question how to advance on their own journeys towards sustainability, the concept of a whole-institution approach is gaining substantial interest, with a variety of interpretations emerging as to how this might be implemented in practice. EAUC commissioned the research paper ‘Next Generation Sustainability Strategy and Structure’ to help members understand the current sustainability landscape in tertiary education.
As ever the dynamism, ambition and creativity in the sector has been evident as a wide range of evolving approaches have been identified in the research. Each has their merits and no one approach is necessarily better than another, simply more appropriate for that institution at this time and place.
On the whole, the most successful approaches seem to be the ones that define sustainability themselves and create their own personalised strategy and structure. Structures were found to fall into six broad categories: estates-based, elsewhere-based, dedicated departments, student-led, decentralised and no dedicated roles. In terms of strategy, again there is variation, from top-down through policy to grassroots action and partnerships.
Read the full report here and additional case studies here.
This research serves as a good starting point for other institutions looking to embed a holistic approach to sustainability. All of those that participated in the research believed elements of their approach was transferrable and, as such, many of these examples could be used by others seeking insight. The report is intended to inspire EAUC member HEIs to advance their own whole-institution journeys, summarising the key elements, benefits and risks of each approach, in order to enable others to identify a suitable path for their own sustainability journey.
The next generation - our future leaders, influencers and decision makers - are already proving receptive to forward-thinking and creative sustainability innovations where established and we hope to see this process of embedding continue. Ultimately, the goal of the EAUC, is to make institution-wide sustainability in post-16 education the new norm.
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