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Integration of Operational and Academic Efforts in Sustainability at the University of British Columbia


Sustainability is a growing priority for higher education institutions around the world. Many universities are responding to global imperatives by committing to strong operational sustainability goals and targets. Similarly, many universities are realigning their resources and redefining their academic priorities to respond to the need to prepare students to understand and address sustainability challenges. Yet few post-secondary institutions have identified the need to deeply integrate academic and operational sustainability as a prerequisite for permanent positive change toward sustainability on campuses and beyond. At the University of British Columbia (UBC), the integration of operational and academic sustainability has catalyzed the development of an aggressive portfolio of programs and activities that aim to transform the University into a test-bed for sustainability and an agent of change in the wider community. However, while the specific actions and projects described herein represent a tangible manifestation of UBC’s intent, the most important change taking place at UBC lies at the level of institutional culture around sustainability. From this perspective, the cross-fertilization of academic and operational cultures becomes an indispensable armature on which the more specific actions rest. This chapter reviews the UBC Sustainability Academic Strategy (SAS) process that led to the creation of the UBC Sustainability Initiative (USI), with a mandate to integrate academic and operational sustainability campus-wide and to act as a clearinghouse for sustainability programs and activities. Special emphasis is placed on a critical review of the USI’s most ambitious sustainability implementation strategies deployed and the resulting challenges. Potential solutions to these challenges are hypothesized before concluding remarks concerning the process of institutionalizing deep and lasting transformative change. The general intent is that this synthesis be of value to higher education institutions considering how they might deepen their commitment to sustainability.


  • Community Partner
  • Operational Sustainability
  • Sustainability Goal
  • Campus Sustainability
  • Sustainability Pathway

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Correspondence to Alberto Cayuela .

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Cayuela, A., Robinson, J.B., Campbell, A., Coops, N., Munro, A. (2013). Integration of Operational and Academic Efforts in Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. In: Caeiro, S., Filho, W., Jabbour, C., Azeiteiro, U. (eds) Sustainability Assessment Tools in Higher Education Institutions. Springer, Cham.

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