Daffodils and dragons: the Welsh challenge for sustainability and equity

Glover, Alison (2011). Daffodils and dragons: the Welsh challenge for sustainability and equity. In: First International Symposium on Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development Conference, 19-20 Apr 2011, London Metropolitan University.

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The aim of this paper is to discuss research focusing on the role of strategic planning as a vehicle for sustainability and equity across the Welsh higher education sector. Outcomes of analysis include response times to government initiatives, and the conceptualisation and development of a 'sustainability maturity model’ to facilitate effective implementation of 'education for sustainable development and global citizenship’ in Welsh higher education institutions.

Sustainable development, tackling social justice and equal opportunities have structured the work of the Welsh Assembly Government since its formation in 1999. Consequently, the past ten years have witnessed many Welsh Assembly Government strategies and policies prioritising sustainability and equity. For example, the Sustainable Development Charter (Welsh Assembly Government, 2010) requires organisations to embed sustainable development as their central organising principle in everything they do.

The higher education sector launches the careers of future leaders, designers and innovators. Therefore, addressing the lack of understanding of the concept of sustainability within higher education is imperative if society is to become more equitable and sustainable (Orr, 1994: Martin and Jucker, 2003: Sibbel, 2009). The Welsh Assembly Government has commissioned several initiatives to drive sustainability within the education sector in Wales and specifically across higher education institutions. A recent report highlighted gaps in the appraisal of the mechanism of corporate planning and incorporating sustainable development into mission statements, strategic plans and policies (Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, 2009).

This research reflects the challenge underway in Wales where sustainable development and global citizenship are perceived with equal worth. Strategic planning in higher education is a tool to implement change and in analysing the common ground among Welsh higher education institutions effective processes, goals and actions can be identified and consequently shape the delivery of education for a more sustainable and equitable society. The potential framework for delivery is an adaptation from the arena of project management, the capability maturity model. It is possible that by enhancing policies and actions already existing across higher education planning and management, via the proposed ‘sustainability maturity model’, institutions will be supported to advance the challenge of sustainability and equity effectively.

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