Purpose – The goal of this paper is to enhance consideration for the potential for institutions of higher education throughout the world, in different cultures and contexts, to be change agents for sustainability. As society faces unprecedented and increasingly urgent challenges associated with accelerating environmental change, resource scarcity, increasing inequality and injustice, as well as rapid technological change, new opportunities for higher education are emerging. Design/methodology/approach – The paper builds on the emerging literature on transition management and identifies five critical issues to be considered in assessing the potential for higher education as a change agent in any particular region or place. To demonstrate the value of these critical issues, exemplary challenges and opportunities in different contexts are provided. Findings – The five critical issues include regional‐specific dominant sustainability challenges, financing structure and independence, institutional organization, the extent of democratic processes, and communication and interaction with society. Originality/value – Given that the challenges and opportunities for higher education as a change agent are context‐specific, identifying, synthesizing, and integrating common themes is a valuable and unique contribution.
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 11, 2008
Keywords: Higher education; Change management; Sustainable development; Transition management