Much progress has been made in the field of sustainable development all over the world since the publication of “Our Common Future” in 1987, and since the Summits held in Rio (1992 and 2012). The field of sustainable development as a whole, and sustainable development research in particular, has evolved substantially over the past twenty-five years. The end of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) has marked the start of a new era, titled “Sustainability 2.0”. At a time when the UN is stepping efforts towards pursuing the “Sustainable Development Goals”, sound research on sustainable development is required more than ever before.
One of the gaps still seen, is in respect of the abilities of universities to perform high quality sustainability research. Therefore, it is believed that a set-up such as the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme, will provide a contribution towards the efforts of member universities to consolidate their initiatives in the field of sustainable development in many ways. For instance:
- By increasing their research income: income from research projects may be increased by means of sustainable development research. Statistics show that sustainable development expertise clustered around research centres or programmes are more successful, than ad hoc efforts and research bids by individuals alone.
- By an enhancement of institutional research profiles in the field of sustainable development: at present, only a few universities already have an international and authoritative research profile in this field, even though they have a great potential to develop it. This potential can be further optimized and increased, by means of more coordinated approaches to bid and secure national and international funding, for interdisciplinary and cross-faculty projects on matters related to sustainable development, and by increasing their visibility.
- By an increase in the intake of PhD students: many universities have the potential to be attractive places for PhD students focusing on sustainability research, but at present – for various reasons – do not fully use it. The PhD programme to be led by the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme will help to realize this potential, and offer the critical mass needed to train a new generation of sustainability experts, across the whole spectrum of themes and topics associated with it.
- By an increase in publication output: apart from income and profile-building, the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme will help its members to achieve more substantial research outputs, which may be translated in the publication of more papers in indexed journals, as well as innovative books and book chapters. The International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education and the newly created “World Sustainability Series”, the leading book series on the topic, are some of the instruments to be used, as well a wider access to the world´s leading journals on environment and sustainable development matters.
The Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme will consolidate and further develop the available know-how and profile on sustainable development among its member universities across the world, helping them to take full advantage of the many possibilities for institutional consolidation and individual career development which sustainability research offers.
A working programme (2015-2020) for the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme has been prepared and is now under implementation. It will be coordinated by Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), but each member university is autonomous in respect of their individual activities, funding and operations.
Letzte Änderung: 20.12.16
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