Interpreting perceptions of sustainability

Glover, Alison (2011). Interpreting perceptions of sustainability. In: PRISM Research Conference, 19-20 May 2011, University of Gloucestershire.



This presentation focuses on the Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGC) agenda underway in Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government, the devolved government for Wales since 1999, is unique with its endorsement of sustainability at the core of all operations. As a result, strategies and policies emerging from the Welsh Assembly Government prioritise sustainability for organisations and people across Wales.

Welsh higher education institutions perform an important role in delivering such objectives. Therefore, the potential for higher education to lead the way in modelling sustainability should be embraced. Strategic plans are a tool with which to implement change and by examining the common ground among institutions it is suggested that effective processes, goals and actions can be identified, and consequently the shaping of a higher education sector which demonstrates effective sustainability. Three years of strategic plans from Welsh higher education institutions provide the focus; analysed to identify common themes both across institutions and over time. The rationale for this approach is that objectives and themes already prioritised within a strategic plan should reflect precedence towards commitment and action, as opposed to imposing a totally unfamiliar framework upon a system.

The future of sustainability across the Welsh higher education sector appears to be gaining momentum as requirements from the Welsh Assembly Government drive the agenda from the ‘top’. However, this must be accompanied with a push from the ‘bottom’ if there is to be sustained activity and progress. This research provides evidence of such progress and the current network of ten higher education institutions across Wales are an accessible and manageable group to achieve effective advances with this agenda using a collective and collaborative approach. As a result, Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and the higher education sector are poised to present world-leading initiatives regarding effective ESDGC.

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