Is it even espoused? An exploratory study of commitment to sustainability as evidenced in vision, mission, and graduate attribute statements in Australian universities
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Since Agenda 21 and the United Nations' Decade for Education for Sustainable Development published, higher education institutions have been recognized as playing a critical role in shifting our society's awareness toward sustainable development. The aim of the present study was to investigate the degree to which universities in Australia have committed to declarations on sustainability by incorporating goals for sustainable development in their vision, mission and graduate attribute statements. Content analysis using QSR NVivo 9 software was used to examine the public websites of Australia's 39 universities. In particular, the research examined whether keywords related to higher education for sustainable development were espoused in vision, mission and graduate attribute statements at the university-level and business faculty/school-level of the organization. The research identified that while many Australian universities publicly endorsed goals and values related to sustainability, the commitment was not reflected in the vision, mission and graduate attributes of business faculties/schools within the same institution. It is argued that if a commitment to higher education for sustainable development is not (at least) endorsed as a publicly espoused value at multiple levels of a university, then the organization's commitment to ensuring sustainable development is enacted at strategic and operational levels of the organization may be questioned. The exploratory study provides a foundation for future research to examine good practice models of how organizations embed sustainable development in the policy-topractice nexus in higher education.
Journal of Cleaner Production
Economics, Business and Management Curriculum and Pedagogy