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Comparative Analysis of Sustainable Practices/Innovations Between University of Pretoria, Gauteng and University of Venda, Limpopo

  • Emma Eudine Mukwevho
  • Mucha TogoEmail author
Chapter
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)

Abstract

Universities have become crucial in dealing with environmental challenges facing the world. Their role is fundamental in addressing environmental issues firstly due to the impact that the institutions have on the environment and secondly due to their massive potential as custodians of education, research and community development. Their role in sustainable development has been reiterated through various global agendas with one of the latest being the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The role of education is mentioned in several SDGs especially SDG 4. This study was undertaken to unpack and understand the contribution of universities to Sustainable Development based on two South African universities with different histories and socio-economic contexts. The research was undertaken at the University of Venda, a former black university situated in the poor Limpopo province of South Africa and at the University of Pretoria, a former white institution located in Pretoria, the country’s administrative capital city in the Gauteng Province. The study focused on sustainable development initiatives employed in university operations, research and community engagement only. The scope of the research (especially time limitations) did not allow inclusion of initiatives in other university functions. Qualitative data collection methods were employed, such as interviews and site observations. Analysis of the data was basically through a comparative analysis of implemented initiatives based on quantity, stage of implementation, the focus and types of initiatives, and the scale of implementation. Critical realist structure/agency stratification of reality was employed as an analytic frame for further interpretation of the results to establish how these two strata influenced the sustainability initiatives at the two institutions. A number of practices were identified at each of the institutions. The practices however differed in terms of focus and the scale of implementation. The University of Pretoria has numerous partnerships in research which has led to fundamental developments in tackling environmental issues both in its context and other contexts. The University of Pretoria has also committed resources to making its operations more sustainable which can be seen in its water and energy management practices which are aimed at conservation. The University of Venda is restricted in its research outputs but has focused on addressing issues that affect its local community. Sustainable initiatives at The University of Venda are aimed more at resolving its lack of resources, developing ways to attain resources in a sustainable manner. The influence of structure was quite clear especially in terms of the scale of implementation and allocation of resources. The capacity of agents is then limited by what is possible or is given priority at the level of the structure.

Keywords

Sustainability in higher education Environmental management Campus greening Sustainability practices Critical realism 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of South AfricaFloridaSouth Africa

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