Keywords: sustainable development, spatiality, sustainable communities, universities, higher education, sustainability
Universities as sustainable communities: a prospectus for people and places
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of universities as sustainable communities and to identify the requirements for achieving this role. The paper outlines the evolution of sustainable development theory and practice, and then considers the desirability of introducing a spatial (or community) dimension into this field of activity. From this, attention turns to the role of universities as sustainable communities, both in their own right and as a component of wider local or regional communities. In addition, the paper examines the various internal elements of the sustainable university. From the assessment of the characteristics of a sustainable community, the paper identifies a number of areas of potential activity that would allow universities to operate in accord with sustainable community principles. Furthermore, the paper discusses the required adjustments to the learning, research and operational activities of universities. Universities display a number of opportunities that if developed and implemented would both enhance the performance of individual institutions and support local and regional programmes of sustainable development. Hitherto the spatial dimension of sustainable development has been largely ignored and little has been said about the role of universities as sustainable communities.