Transferability of approaches to sustainable development at universities as a challenge

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to outline the particular character of the research and development project “Sustainable University – Sustainable development in the Context of University Remits” which lies both in its integrative perspective on universities and the attempt to transfer its findings onto other higher education institutions. Design/methodology/approach – The paper describes the testing and further development of transdisciplinary research methods (transformative approach, scenario development) for the purpose of both exploring and testing potentials/capabilities for sustainable development of a single institution (case study: University of Lüneburg, Germany) against the backdrop of sustainability concept; and making this kind of development transferable to other universities. The paper offers additional reinforcement of strategic scope/effectiveness by means of reference to findings of higher education research (e.g. relevance of neo-institutionalism) Findings – There is empirical evidence for successful development of transdisciplinary techniques for sustainability in higher education domains (among others management, research, and teaching – cf. other contributions of this issue). Further, dissemination of the “Lüneburg Approach” by establishing an intermediate level of collaboration between sustainability activists within universities and in higher education policy and administration (e.g. constitution of working groups in northern Germany and at the federal level) Research limitations/implications – There is a need for enhancing research tools for transdisciplinary sustainability science; deliberating on international transferability (current focus: (solely) German academia) Practical implication – A systemic approach is indispensable: instead of focusing upon isolated sustainability fields of action” (management, research, teaching, etc.), all-embracing advancement to encompass their strategic relationships and thus synergies. Originality/value – The paper provides a holistic view of academic organisations addressing the issue of how universities are to be proactive in advancing sustainable development.

Translated title of the contributionTransfer nachhaltigkeitsorientierter Aktivitäten von Hochschulen als besonderes Herausforderung
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)385-402
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 25.09.2007