One of the features of sustainable higher education is to assess the current state of the integration of sustainability in a given higher education institution. Policy makers and practitioners have a need to know how, where, when and by whom initiatives to integrate sustainability are taking place, and analyse the results of these efforts. A lot of models and instruments are available for this purpose, but rather than discussing about which instrument or approach is the best to apply in higher education, it is more worthwhile to acknowledge that there is no “one-fit-for-all” approach for every university. A given university should choose the approach or instrument that fits best with their culture. After all, an organisation’s culture can be seen as an important (but often underestimated) factor in a process of change management. Performing a sustainability assessment in a university is therefore not an end result, but rather has to be seen within the bigger picture: the sustainability integration process within the organisation.
In the past decade, a lot of universities performed sustainability assessments, using a variety of approaches (e.g. screening of competences). Some instruments, models and approaches have been developed for, and used by, higher education institutions. Other universities used instruments that were designed for industry and business purposes (e.g. ecological footprint analysis). Sharing the results and experiences of sustainability assessments in higher education could enable universities to learn from each other and choose an approach which fits best within the own organisation. A lot of universities used sustainability assessment tools, yet reporting about the experiences with these instruments lagged behind.
The publication “Sustainability Assessment Tools in Higher Education Institutions. Mapping Trends and Good Practices Around the World” is filling the knowledge gap of practical experiences of the use of sustainability assessment in higher education. It offers both theoretical insights on sustainable higher education and sustainability assessment in higher education, and practical experiences with assessment instruments and approaches, e.g. Auditing Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education (AISHE), Graphical Assessment of Sustainability in Universities (GASU), Sustainability tool for Auditing Universities Curricula in Higher Education (STAUNCH). Moreover, it includes cases from Australia, Belgium, Germany, India, Malaysia, UK, USA, etc.
Caeiro, S., Leal Filho, W., Jabbour, C., Azeiteiro, U. (Eds., 2013). Sustainability Assessment Tools in Higher Education Institutions. Mapping Trends and Good Practice Around the World. Springer.