Sustainable development is the biggest challenge to universities in the twenty‐first century. As many different definitions and interpretations of the concept exist, it is not surprising that the strategies of the universities that are beginning to strive for sustainability show some differences. Various universities have already become engaged in the process of integrating sustainable development in their activities. Some examples of such universities are presented, including the experiences of the University of Amsterdam. The diverging strategies of sustainable universities are classified to clarify the differences and to stimulate and advance the debate. Inevitably, management, research, education, communication and operation of any university with a genuine interest in sustainable development will have to change. However, if, as it seems, universities are deeply involved in current world‐wide patterns of unsustainability, could it perhaps be that existing university structures need to be replaced by a completely new type of “universal knowledge network” which is derived from a totally different paradigm of their role and function? In this article some clear indications are given about the meaning of sustainable development in this context in order to provide directions and guidelines for university strategies and practices. The consequences of the concept for universities are indicated and, finally, a possible model for a sustainable university is proposed.
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 1, 2000
Keywords: Classification; Universities; Organisation; Strategies; Sustainable development