Process framework for identifying sustainability aspects in university curricula and integrating education for sustainable development

Tove Holm, Kaisu Sammalisto, Thomas Skou Grindsted, Timo Vuorisalo

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Sustainability aspects in higher education must be enhanced with more concrete actions. Universities are globally required to have quality assurance to secure and improve teaching and learning, and they use management systems to this aim. Integrating education for sustainable development and management systems are alike in that they are based on continuous improvement and systematic thinking; for both processes all stakeholders need to be involved. Although quality assurance is compulsory for higher education, education for sustainable development has barely been examined or integrated in this context. This article examines how voluntary integration of education for sustainable development into management systems at universities could facilitate a scheme to overcome the challenges to integrating education for sustainable development that were identified in previous research. For this, a process framework for integrating education for sustainable development with management systems was developed in a network of 11 universities in the Nordic countries. The framework included planning, assessment, monitoring, and implementation of education for sustainable development. It was piloted and applied to identify relevant sustainability aspects in different disciplines, examples of which are provided in the article. The framework can be applied to visualize the implementation of education for sustainable development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Pages (from-to)164-174
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Quality assurance
  • education for sustainable development
  • Management systems
  • Nordic countries
  • Higher education

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