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Higher Education Institutions and their part in the Global Sustainable Developement Agenda: Accounting for Actors and Outcome.
o.O. (Sydney /AUS)
This paper presents a review of the engagement of Higher Education Institution (HEI) actors in relation to other state and non-state actors in the development of the Global Sustainable Development Agenda (GSDA). A grounded theory approach to temporal mapping of events and analysis of documented contributions by HEI actors to environmental initiatives, revealed the roles of individual academics and higher education leaders during the formative period leading up to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) of 1992. The paper considers subsequent initiatives and organisational formations by UN and HEI actors to identify their influence on, or interactions with, the GSDA. The findings propose that the challenge leveled at HEIs for being under-engaged in the GSDA may relate to factors identified by the study which include; narrow engagement of academics, the rapid formation of new transnational mechanisms and international non-government organisations (INGOs) to establish the GSDA; academic resistance to the ′mantra′ of sustainable development and the effect of weak signals by UN mechanisms in gaining HEI engagement in the GSDA. These findings are considered in relation the literature on Higher Education Sector engagement with the GSDA. Actor-Network-Theory is considered as an informing theory through the study as the development of new organisational forms is revealed by ′following the actors′ in relation to their apparent associations and actions. Further work on these inter-relationships is recommended to ascertain how other external factors impacted on the level of HEI engagement with the GSDA. The paper aims to demonstrate value in developing further temporal and network analysis which can stimulate discourse and provide insights for future engagement by GSDA advocates with HEI leaders.
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