Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) addresses sustainable development issues, in the economic, environmental, and social dimensions. The positive role of higher education institutions (HEIs), such as Universities and Polytechnic Institutes, in educating decision makers and leaders, and therefore contributing to progress and the public good, has been widely acknowledged. This investigation aims to map the BSc and MSc courses offered by Portuguese HEIs that address Sustainability (or Social Responsibility, or Ethics) in their curricula with the aim of proving their graduates with the right knowledge and competencies to overcome the Sustainable Development challenges. A systematic review utilizing a structured approach was used to analyze Portuguese HEIs BSc and MSc courses and the content analysis of their curricular units. The conclusions show that Sustainability (or Social Responsibility, or Ethics) is covered in most Social Sciences, Engineering, and Management, BSc and MSc courses, offered by the top 8 Portuguese Higher Education Institutions. However, ESD is fragmented by different approaches, issues, methodologies, and implications, lacking a consistent body of knowledge. Some courses focus more on the Social dimension, while others are more directed to the Environment or the Economic one. Sometimes the chosen approach is more normative (do what is right to do; the ethical way) and in other cases is more instrumental (do what is good for the business; the business case). Social Sciences, Engineering and Science, and Management and Economics are the three top clusters that address Sustainability related syllabus in their curricula, with 49 hours teaching hours in average for the curricular units covering Sustainability (with considerable variation). Universities have more curricular units addressing the topic while Polytechnic Institutes show a higher number of hours per curricular unit and most are of compulsory nature (while in Universities more than 50% of the curricular units are of optional nature). As the collected information was in some cases of generic nature, additional research should be used to confirm and detail these results and evaluate the effectiveness of this education to empower students to act as change agents for Sustainable Development. Benchmarking with other countries (e.g., from the European Union) is also an interesting avenue to pursue this investigation.
Adomßent, M., Fischer, D., Godemann, J., Herzig, C., Otte, I., Rieckmann, M., Timm, J. (2014), “Emerging areas in research on higher education for sustainable development management education, sustainable consumption and perspectives from Central and Eastern Europe”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 62, pp. 1-7, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.09.045.
Aleixo, A.M., Leal, S., Azeiteiro, U.M. (2018), “Conceptualization of sustainable higher education institutions, roles, barriers, and challenges for sustainability: An exploratory study in Portugal”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 172, pp. 1664-1673, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.11.010.
Amaral, L.P., Martins, N., Gouveia, J.B. (2015), “Quest for a sustainable university: a review”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 155-172, doi: 10.1108/IJSHE-02-2013-0017.
Blackburn, W.R. (2016), “The practice of sustainability at colleges and universities”, Environmental Law Reporter News & Analysis, Vol. 46, No. 5, pp. 10394-10385.
Cortese, A.D. (2003), “The critical role of higher education in creating a sustainable future”, Planning for Higher Education, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 15–22.
Carley, M., Christie, I. (2000), Managing Sustainable Development, Second ed., Earthscan Publications Ltd.: London.
Corney, G., Reid, A., (2007), “Student teachers’ learning about subject matter and pedagogy in education for sustainable development”, Environmental Education Research, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 33-54, doi: 10.1080/13504620601122632.
Dima, A.M., Vasilache, S., Ghinea, V., Agoston, S. (2013), “A model of Academic Social Responsibility”, Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences, Vol. 38, pp. 23-43.
Dima, A.M., Hadad, S., Luchian, J. (2017), “Review on the dimensions of business-university alliances”, in: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Business Excellence, pp. 64-73, doi: 10.1515/picbe-2017-0007.
Ellen Macarthur Foundation (2014). Towards the Circular Economy, Vol. 3: Accelerating the scale-up across global supply chains. Ellen Macarthur Foundation: Cowes.
Fonseca, L.M. (2015), “Strategic Drivers for Implementing Sustainability Programs in Portuguese Organizations – Let’s Listen to Aristotle: From Triple to Quadruple Bottom Line”, Sustainability: The Journal of Record (USA), Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 136-142, doi: 10.1089/SUS.2015.29004.
Fonseca, L., Lima, V. (2015), “Countries three Wise Men: Sustainability, Innovation, and Competitiveness”, Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 1288-1302, doi: 10.3926/jiem.1525.
Fonseca, L.M. and Domingues, J.P. (2018), Adoption of Circular Economy concepts and practices by Portuguese Citizens and Companies, in Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Business Excellence 2018, 12 (1), pp. 374–385. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/picbe-2018-0033.
Fonseca, L.M., Domingues, J.P., Pereira, M.T., Martins, F.F. and Zimon, D. (2018), Assessment of Circular Economy within Portuguese Organizations. Sustainability, 10, 2521; doi:10.3390/su10072521.
Figueiró P.S., Raufflet E. (2015), “Sustainability in higher education_a systematic review”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 106, pp. 22-33, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.04.118.
Ghinea, V.M., Dima, A.M. and Hadad, S. (2017), “Excellence Model for Sustainable Convergence in the EU Higher Education”, Amfiteatru Economic, Vol. 19 (Special No. 11), pp. 1107-1122.
Godemann, J., Bebbington, J., Herzig, C., Moon, J. (2014), “Higher education and sustainable development: exploring possibilities for organisational change”, Auditing Accounting Journal, Vol. 27, pp. 218-233, doi: 10.1108/AAAJ-12-2013-1553.
Halbe, J., Adamowski, J., Pahl-Wostl, C. (2015), “The role of paradigms in engineering practice and education for sustainable development”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 106, pp. 272-282, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.01.093.
Laird, T.F.N., Engberg, M.E. and Hurtado, S. (2005), “Modeling Accentuation Effects: Enrolling in a Diversity Course and the Importance of Social Action Engagement”, The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 76, No. 4, pp. 448-476 doi: 10.1080/00221546.2005.11772292.
Lozano, R. (2006), “Incorporation and institutionalization of SD into universities: breaking through barriers to change”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 14, pp. 787–796, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2005.12.010.
Podolny, J.M. (2009), “The Buck Stops (and Starts) at Business School”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 87, No. 6, pp. 62-67.
Sandell, K., Ohman, J., Ostman, L. (2005), Education for Sustainable Development: Nature, School and Democracy. Studentlitteratur: Lund.
Schofer, E., Meyer, J.W. (2005), “The worldwide expansion of higher education in the twentieth century”, American Sociological Review, Vol. 70, No. 6, pp. 898-920, doi: 10.1177/000312240507000602.
Scott, W. (2012), “Sustainability education e perspectives and practice across higher education”, Environmental Education Research, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 722-726, doi: 10.1080/13504622.2012.662394.
Stephens, J.C., Graham, A.C. (2010), “Toward an empirical research agenda for sustainability in higher education: exploring the transition management framework”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 18, No. 7, pp. 611-618, doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2009.07.009.
Sterling, S., Scott, W. (2008), “Editorial”, Environmental Education Research, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 383–385, doi: 10.1080/13504620802343862.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2005). The DESD at a Glance. UNESCO— Education for Sustainable Development. UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005–2014. Division for the Promotion of Quality Education, 2005. Available online: https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-sustainable-development (accessed on 30 November 2017).
UNESCO (2014), Shaping the Future We Want. UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). Final report. Paris: UNESCO.
Waas, T., Verbruggen, A., Wright, T. (2010), “University research for sustainable development: definition and characteristics explored”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 18, pp. 629–636, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2009.09.017
Wang, Y., Wang, R., Shi, H., Huisingh, D., Hansson, L., Hong, J. (2013), Special issue: green universities and environmental higher education for sustainable development in China and other emerging countries, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 61, pp. 1-138.
Wright, Tara. (2004), The Evolution of Sustainability Declarations in Higher Education”. In P. B. Corcoran & A.E.J. Wals (Eds.), Higher Education and the Challenge of Sustainability: Problematics, Promise and Practice, (pp. 7-19), Springer: Dordrecht.