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Sustainability for Everyone: Perspectives from Higher Education Leaders

22 Sep 2021 | Dr Patrick Baughan, Doug Parkin, Giles Brown Co-editor Dr Patrick Baughan introduces our new publication which follows our Connect Benefit Series theme “Sustainability for Everyone: Here and Now”

We are delighted to announce the publication of Sustainability for Everyone: Perspectives from Higher Education Leaders, a brand new Advance HE work which brings together two important priority areas in higher education: leadership and sustainability. The publication was compiled and edited by Patrick Baughan, Doug Parkin and Giles Brown, but draws extensively on the contributions of several other expert voices, each with experience of leading sustainability and significant change in the sector: Professor Nazira Karodia, Professor Eunice Simmons, Meg Baker, Professor Jim Longhurst and Professor Simon Kemp. We are grateful to each of these colleagues for giving their perspectives on sustainability and leadership.

The publication has its origins in the Advance HE member benefit activities focused on sustainability in higher education that took place earlier in 2021. The overriding theme for these activities was Sustainability for Everyone: Here and Now. The theme and its constituent events were developed on the premise that sustainability is an area of great importance to higher education, of relevance to everyone in the sector. The pressing need is that everyone should have a voice and everyone should ‘play their part’. Specifically, the theme considered sustainability as ‘something for everyone’ in higher education where ‘everyone’ has three applications: inclusion, action, and urgency. This was also the starting point and approach that we expand on in the publication itself.

As part of this focus, we felt that it would be valuable to bring sustainability and higher education leadership together. After all, there is an increasing realisation and urgency for ‘society at large’ to engage more with sustainability and a growing understanding of the potentially devastating costs if we do not. And as part of our contribution to ongoing discussions about sustainability in the sector, and with the intention of both inspiring others and providing useful guidance, we wanted to draw on the perspectives of colleagues who have already tried to address some of these issues at their own institutions.

The main section of the publication comprises an ‘annotated transcript’ of a live webinar we hosted at Advance HE entitled Leading Sustainability in Higher Education: Leading for a Lost Cause? During the webinar, the five contributors mentioned above discussed leadership issues in relation to sustainability. The transcript of that webinar, published here for the first time, features additional discussion and refection. It is preceded with an introductory section by Patrick Baughan, who led the member benefit activities on sustainability, and followed with a broader discussion piece by Doug Parkin, Principal Adviser for Leadership and Management, who, in light of the points and ideas expressed at the webinar, provides a more ‘close-up’ examination of key leadership principles and practices as applied to sustainability in the sector. This piece also looks at four levers for strategic engagement.

We are delighted to offer this new publication to Advance HE members, hope that you enjoy it, and, most importantly, hope that it inspires some positive, pro-sustainability change amongst staff and students within your organisations.

Dr Patrick Baughan, Senior Adviser for Learning and Teaching, Advance HE.

Available to Advance HE members – Sustainability for Everyone: Perspectives from Higher Education Leaders

Find out more about Advance HE's Connect Benefit Series 2021-22 – a suite of projects designed to co-create and share innovative solutions to contemporary challenges.


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