Key characteristics of academics promoting Sustainable Human Development within engineering studies

Boris Lazzarini, Agustí Pérez-Foguet, Alejandra Boni
Journal of Cleaner Production

In the last decade, a growing number of technical universities and engineering faculties have been promoting various initiatives aimed at integrating sustainable development in their activities. Despite the fact that the commitment of the academic staff has been widely recognised to have a key role in university change processes towards sustainable development, few studies have specifically analysed the

characteristics of academics engaged in such processes. The present study provides an analysis and a profile of a group of academics, participating in a training programme on sustainable human development, granted by a European fund. The methods employed include a semi-structured survey, focusing on the academic activities and social outreach of the participants, complemented by a bibliometric analysis of their scientific production. The findings show: 1) an interdisciplinary profile of the academics, 2) an integration of sustainable development principles in all academic activities and 3) a promotion of those principles outside the university. It is emphasised that the commitment of this type of academics can facilitate a cultural change in engineering education, as well as more holistic transformations of universities towards sustainable development. The paper concludes by providing recommendations for leaders and policy makers of higher education institutions on the implementation of appropriate policies and mechanisms to facilitate faculty engagement in sustainable development.