Integrating Sustainability within Higher Education

Integrating Sustainability within Higher Education

Angus W. Stewart
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5856-1.ch017
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Many universities teach programs in sustainable energy, but should they be incorporating theories and practice of sustainability across many disciplines? This chapter proposes the argument that institutes of higher education should be primary vehicles of change in our transition towards a sustainable future. It discusses that this can occur at the institutional and curriculum level. Two case studies are presented; integrating concepts of sustainability within a biomedical discipline area and assessing the impact of a College waste recycling program.
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The concept of life-sustainability poses complex and bold challenges to universities and other institutes of higher education. Many are actively rethinking their goals and missions, which are filtering into courses, research programs and policies. Sustainability of our energy supply, environment and cultures are not only outcomes, but should also be interwoven within the teaching and learning processes. This should not be seen as an obstacle to education, but as stimulus for change and innovation. But do we teach sustainability courses, or “teach sustainably”? Our graduates will be constantly extended and challenged by a rapidly changing world, from political, cultural, economic and scientific perspectives. Are we giving them the right tools to enable them to confront the issues of the future? The prospect of institutionalising sustainability within higher education can be daunting.

This chapter will briefly explore this prospect from a medical/biological perspective and propose some strategies for integration of sustainable-life theory into curriculum delivery. Two case studies are described, the first dealing with the introduction of sustainability concepts into a specific unit of study, the second a more general policy implementation aimed at the reduction of landfill waste.

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