Sustainability in Higher Education: Social Responsibility or Social Reputation?

Sustainability in Higher Education: Social Responsibility or Social Reputation?

I. L. St John (Plymouth University, UK), A. D. Phippen (Plymouth University, UK) and M. Hudson Smith (Plymouth University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5166-1.ch010

Abstract

This chapter critically examines the relationship between HEIs and their communities and questions whether the main motivating factors and drivers behind the increasing importance that sustainability plays in their policy making are social responsibility or social reputation based. Exploratory case studies are undertaken with a number of Higher Education Institutes in respect to the drivers for creation of their Green ICT Policy. Evidence suggests that social reputation is a declining factor on the greening of ICT in the education sector whilst there is an impetus towards financial savings and improving efficiency.
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Background

Sustainability presents the human race with an unparalleled challenge which it needs to respond to in order to maintain its existence. It was first conceptualized by the eminent economist Schumacher (1972) in his essays “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” but came to prominence after the publication of the Brundtland Report (WCED, 1987) which stated that we must “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs’.

Sustainable Development

Borne out of the Brundtland Report was the subject matter of ‘sustainable development’. The roots of sustainable development lie in the socio-environmental consequences of unsustainable development paths that have dominated since the industrial revolution (Strong et al, 1997). Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without the need of future generations to meet their own needs (Charter, 1992).

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