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ERIC Number: EJ827784
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1467-6370
Sustainable Development: Assessing the Gap between Preaching and Practice at Aalborg University
Christensen, Per; Thrane, Mikkel; Jorgensen, Tine Herreborg; Lehmann, Martin
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, v10 n1 p4-20 2009
Purpose: This article aims to discuss the contradiction between signing an agreement to work for sustainable universities and the lack of practical commitment in one case, namely at Aalborg University (AAU). Focus is placed both on the University's core processes such as education, research and outreach; on the necessary inputs and outputs related to transport, food and operation, and maintenance of buildings, and on the university's products counting published results of research and educated students and researchers. Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on a desk study of official university documents from the period 1990 to 2007, and a number of student reports that have focused on the sustainability or environmental merits of the University. Findings: Although adopting an environmental policy and signing the Copernicus Charter back in the early 1990s, AAU soon lost momentum. This was due to reasons defined as: the lack of commitment from top management, the missing acceptance from technical staff, and a narrow understanding of the university's environmental impacts. Obviously, a model of the environmental impacts should not only take into account the environmental impacts related to the impacts occurring in the present, e.g. related to the running and maintenance of buildings and laboratories, but also integrate considerations about the impacts in the processes (education, research and outreach). Thereby, the model shall provide the basis for more sustainable products, such as students considering aspects of sustainability in the solutions and approaches they apply in their future careers. Research limitations/implications: This article forms the basis for future research identifying how universities can contribute to sustainable development in a more coherent way by implementing new policies and plans. The article takes its starting point in a general model of a university's environmental impacts involving key processes at the university, the related inputs and outputs (emissions), and the transformation of intermediate products such as high school students and existing research results into products such as graduate students, PhDs, and new research results. Practical implications: The processes and the related inputs, outputs, intermediate products, and end-products are analysed and discussed in order to illustrate the relevant environmental issues that need to be addressed by universities. Originality/value: The paper identifies a number of key issues of sustainability that universities need to address and offers inspiration to staff and students on how to push these agendas at their home universities. (Contains 1 figure and 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Students
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Denmark