EAUC commissioned the research paper ‘Next Generation Sustainability Strategy and Structure’ to help members understand the current sustainability landscape in tertiary education.
This case study is from Macquarie University
Structure: Dedicated Department
Highest level of authority: Executive Level
Sustainability at Macquarie University structurally sits as an independent department; the sustainability director sits at senior leader level and reports directly in to the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, as well as the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic. The team includes an Education for Sustainability (EfS) manager, working directly with academics to build sustainability into the curriculum. The team has developed good working relationships with other departments such as Estates and HR, in order to enable collaboration across business areas. They also work closely with the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Students and Registrar which gives access to the student portfolio. The strategic approach of the department is to employ the ‘LiFE’ (Learning in Future Environments) planning and self-assessment tool. The team structure is still evolving, and is likely to align more closely with the LiFE framework in the future.
There is an independent budget, which funds smaller projects, including teaching guidance and staff engagement initiatives. Where the department collaborates with others, funding will usually come from both budgets, varying on a project to project basis. The long term aim is to further encourage spending to be embedded within the budget for each area, tying closely to the concept of embedding sustainability itself within the culture and standard working practices.
A commitment to ‘sustainability in all we do’ is included in the main corporate strategy of the university. This trickles down to both the research framework and the teaching and learning framework.
Sustainability Director Leanne Denby considers the model and approach at Macquarie to be transferable, because none of the elements are unique to the Macquarie setting. The key factor is that the team is independent, giving it the capacity to work right across the institution.