Advertisement

Towards Realising SDGs in the University of Helsinki

Chapter
Part of the Sustainable Development Goals Series book series (SDGS)

Abstract

Universities, such as the University of Helsinki, are facing a growing trend to redefine their strategies and organisations along the lines of sustainability. However, the process of building the structures for sustainability research and education requires the breaking down of existing disciplinary silos. In this chapter, we analyse the new initiatives in research, education and governance, and management operations to which the University committed during 2015–2018 through the lens of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We also explore the factors that enable or hinder sustainability transition at a university. The results of the SDG mapping show that SDG 4 (Quality Education) is an overarching goal represented in all new initiatives within research, education and university management. SDG 17 (Partnerships) and SDG 3 (Health and Wellbeing) are also equally strongly emphasised. However, SDGs 1 (No Poverty), SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality) are not considered, or if so, given little emphasis. Our analysis revealed that small niche innovations, tactical and operational activities at the grassroots level like networks, science activism and student awareness pushed for regime-level changes. However, the financial incentives and policy changes initiated on the regime level enabled the niche-level innovations to develop and led to strategic decisions providing a window of opportunity to initiate structural changes.

Keywords

University transition Sustainability Organisational culture SDGs 

References

  1. Academy of Finland. (2018). Competitive funding to strengthen university research profiles. Retrieved June 26, 2018, from https://www.aka.fi/en/research-and-science-policy/university-profiling/.
  2. Albareda-Tiana, S., Vidal-Raméntol, S., & Fernández-Morilla, M. (2018). Implementing the sustainable development goals at university level. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 19(3), 473–497.  https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-05-2017-0069.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barth, B., & Michelsen, G. (2013). Learning for change: An educational contribution to sustainability science. Sustainability Science, 8, 103–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beringer, A., & Adomßent, M. (2008). Sustainable university research and development: Inspecting sustainability in higher education research. Environmental Education Research, 14(6), 607–623.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13504620802464866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berkhout, F., Smith, A., & Stirling, A. (2004). Socio-technological regimes and transition contexts. In B. Elzen, F. W. Geels, & K. Green (Eds.), System innovation and the transition to sustainability: Theory, evidence and policy (pp. 48–75). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  6. Beynaghi, G., Trencher, F., Moztarzadeh, M., Mozafari, R., Maknoon, W., & Filho, L. (2016). Future sustainability scenarios for universities: Moving beyond the United Nations decade of education for sustainable development. Journal of Cleaner Production, 112, 1464–1474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brugmann, R., Côté, N., Postma, N., Shaw, E. A., Pal, D., & Robinson, J. B. (2019). Expanding student engagement in sustainability: Using SDG- and CEL-focused inventories to transform curriculum at the University of Toronto. Sustainability, 11, 530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bulkeley, H., & Castán Broto, V. (2012). Government by experiment? Global cities and the governing of climate change. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 38, 361–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dedeurwaerdere, T. (2013). Transdisciplinary sustainability science at higher education institutions: Science policy tools for incremental institutional change. Sustainability, 5, 3783–3801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ferrer-Balas, D., Adachi, J., Banas, S., Davidson, C. I., Hoshikoshi, A., Mishra, A., Motodoa, Y., Onga, M., & Ostwald, M. (2008). An international comparative analysis of sustainability transformation across seven universities. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 9(3), 295–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ferrer-Balas, D., Buckland, H., & de Mingo, M. (2009). Explorations on the University’s role in society for sustainable development through a systems transition approach. Case-study of the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). Journal of Cleaner Production, 17, 1075–1085.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Findler, F., Schönherr, N., Lozano, R., Reider, D., & Martinuzzi, A. (2019). The impacts of higher education institutions on sustainable development: A review and conceptualization. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 20(1), 23–38.  https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-07-2017-0114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Geels, F. W. (2002). Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: A multi-level perspective and a case-study. Research Policy, 31, 1257–1274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Geels, F. W., & Schot, J. (2007). Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways. Research Policy, 36, 399–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Holmberg, J., & Samuelsson, B. (Eds.). (2006). Drivers and barriers for implementing sustainable development in higher education (pp. 7–11). Paris: Unesco. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001484/148466E.pdf.Google Scholar
  16. Loorbach, D. (2007). Transition management: New mode of governance for sustainable development. PhD thesis. Rotterdam: Erasmus University.Google Scholar
  17. Lozano, R., Ceulemans, K., Alonso-Almeida, M., Huisingh, D., Lozano, F. J., Waas, T., Lambrechts, W., Lukman, R., & Huge, J. (2015). A review of commitment and implementation of sustainable development in higher education: Results from a worldwide survey. Journal of Cleaner Production, 108, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maragakis, A., & Dobbelsteen, A. (2015). Sustainability in higher education: Analysis and selection of assessment systems. Journal of Sustainable Development, 8(3), 1–9.Google Scholar
  19. Mori Junior, R., Fien, J., & Horne, R. (2019). Implementing the UN SDGs in universities: Challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned. Sustainability, 12(2), 129–133.  https://doi.org/10.1089/sus.2019.0004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Müller-Christ, G., Sterling, S., van Dam-Mieras, R., Adomßent, M., Fischer, D., & Rieckmann, M. (2014). The role of campus, curriculum, and community in higher education for sustainable development—a conference report. Journal of Cleaner Production, 62, 134–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., & Fuller, G. (2018). SDG index and dashboards report 2018. New York: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).Google Scholar
  22. SDSN Australia/Pacific. (2017). Getting started with the SDGs in universities: A guide for universities, higher education institutions, and the academic sector. Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Edition. Sustainable Development Solutions Network-Australia/Pacific, Melbourne. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from http://ap-unsdsn.org/regional-initiatives/universities-sdgs/university-sdg-guide/.
  23. Soini, K., Jurgilevich, A., Pietikäinen, J., & Korhonen-Kurki, K. (2018). Universities responding to the call for sustainability: A typology of sustainability centres. Journal of Cleaner Production, 170, 1423–1432.Google Scholar
  24. Stephen, C., & Graham, A. C. (2010). Toward an empirical research agenda for sustainability in higher education: Exploring the transition management framework. Journal of Cleaner Production, 18, 611–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Times Higher Education. (2019). Why universities must work together to achieve sustainable development goals. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/why-universities-must-work-together-achieve-sustainable-development-goals.
  26. Trencher, G., Yarime, M., McCormick, K., Doll, C., Kraines, S., & Kharrazi, A. (2014). Beyond the third mission: Exploring the emerging university function of co-creation for sustainability. Science and Public Policy, 41(2), 151–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)HelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations