Exploring a transformative orientation to sustainability in universities: a question of loose and tight framings

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Abstract

This review essay examines three new books on higher education and sustainability.
It explores a number of the issues raised in the books, in particular, the
meaning of a transformative orientation towards sustainability. The idea of loose
and tight conceptual framings of sustainability is employed. A tight framing is
where an institution embodies a vision, values and values-informed practices that
have been shifted to fit a particular conceptualisation of sustainability which
gives meaning, not just to what that institution does, but also to what it is trying
to become. A loose framing is where an institution takes sustainability seriously
in what it does, without having in place values, dispositions and orientations,
and an appropriate conceptually grounded vision. It is argued (i) that the essential
distinction here is between that of doing sustainability, and a shift to being
sustainable as a whole institution; (ii) that any developmental journey to a tight
framing would need to be a deliberate one; (iii) that changes to curriculum, man-
agement, leadership and governance would need to be in place before this can
start; and (iv) that an important step on the journey will involve institution-wide
deliberations on the conceptual framing(s) to adopt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-953
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Volume21
Issue number6
Early online date18 Sep 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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