The Role of Higher Education Institutions in Promoting Sustainable Development

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The Role of Higher Education Institutions in Promoting Sustainable Development To care about sustainable development means to accept responsibility for the well-being of future generations and also of our habitat, of our planet. An affirmative attitude towards sustainability has to be an integral part of the moral foundation of our activities and of our lifestyle. This means that promoting sustainable development must be an important aspect of the educational agenda at all levels. It starts in kindergarten and it goes all the way to the university level and beyond. It basically involves three aspects: the buildup and reinforcement of a basic understanding of the problem of sustainability, an inspection of all aspects of our life under the criterion of sustainability and finally an active search for new methods and techniques to further sustainable development. In all of this, Higher Education Institutions play a crucial role. Clearly, the research agenda should be influenced – but not dictated – by striving for sustainability with the goal of inventing new methods to deal with all the big problems such as climate change, pollution, energy, hunger, infectious diseases, biodiversity, etc. Systematically thinking about justice and ethics, peace and good governance, not only about ecology, but also about economy might contribute in a substantial way to the establishment of a sustainable way of life. But the most important contribution is in education offered by institutions. Whatever particular subject is being taught, the question whether and how it may influence development towards sustainability must always be asked and discussed. Of course there are contexts in which it is difficult to make this connection, but they are much less frequent then one would expect. Should sustainability also be considered as a topic all by itself and be taught and discussed in special courses? The answer is a clear yes. Nowadays as we are moving towards thematic and problem-focused...
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