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Schriftzug "The Guide 'Study and Research on Sustainability'"

Sustainability in the Academic Field

The model of sustainable development

The model of sustainable development is a concept of modernisation of society which has gained political and social importance and which is based on the idea that we should shape the structures of living and working, of dealing with nature and her resources and the social conditions involved in such a way that in the long term they are compatible with the environment and society's needs.

Among the most important elements in the basic understanding of sustainable development there is the principle of integration embedded in the 3-fold model of sustainability, the principle of justice (between the generations) and the participatory principle.

The universities' contribution to sustainable development

In several respects universities have a crucial role to play in the context of sustainable development (see also The Federal Ministry of Education and Research 2004, p. 32ff.):

University teaching and research plays a pre-eminent role in the context of sustainable development, since:

"Higher education has a catalyst role vis-à-vis education for sustainable development and the building of a Learning Society. It has a special responsibility to conduct the scholarship and scientific research necessary to generate the new knowledge needed and train the leaders and teachers of tomorrow, as well as communicate this knowledge to decision-makers and the public-at-large." (Lüneburg-Declaration 2001)

Challenges to universities ensuing from sustainable development

The basic principles of sustainable development imply for the universities the requirement or necessity that there be a normative approach in teaching and research which follows the model of sustainable development. This means that the social, ecological and economic perspectives should be linked, which implies interdisciplinary approaches and ultimately greater emphasis on practical aspects and applications so as to actively tackle the tasks involved in the challenge of sustainable development and to be able to solve the problems of non-sustainable development.

Apart from the universities there are a host of research institutions outside universities which make a key contribution to research into sustainability.

The Guide "Study and Research on Sustainability" deals with the research and mediatory function of universities and these other research institutions in the context of sustainability.

 
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Last update: 11/30/2009