2022 Conference update

The program for this year’s free virtual conference has been confirmed. We have elected to hold a smaller number of signature events during the week in place of our usual member hosted conference. We think that this year’s approach will allow for better engagement with fewer sessions and maximize opportunities for participation across multiple time-zones. The six events cover a variety of topics. You are welcome to attend as many sessions as you can!

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1. Sustainability in Higher Education: An Agenda for Transformational Change: A Manifesto for Change and ‘Third-way’ People

  • Dr. Wendy Purcell, Harvard University
  • Julie Newman, Director of Sustainability, MIT
  • Julio Lumbreras, Professor, Technical University of Madrid (UPM)
  • Dave Gorman, Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability, University of Edinburgh
  • David Nwogbo, Professor, National Open University of Nigeria
  • Other panelists to be confirmed

Tuesday June 7th, 9:00 – 10:30 Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)
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Higher education (HE) is essential for the transformative change of sustainable development (SD). Adopted as a driver of change within HE institutions (HEIs) and/or realized beyond their walls, HEIs are on a sustainability journey – some are just setting out, while others are further along – no one institution has yet arrived.

Sustainability-led transformation may take place at the level of the institution, organization, culture, place (anchor) and/or students. Different local and national contexts, institutional archetypes and academic missions influence the pursuit of SD in and by HEIs. But HEIs must change – what they do, how they do it and with whom. Relatively incremental and small-scale projects will not deliver on the new ways demanded by the challenges of the Anthropocene – certainly not fast enough. We need to ‘power-up’ to realize fully the transformational potential of HE as a route for SD.

A manifesto for change in HE[1] relies on new leadership and governance models and ‘third-way’ professionals, i.e., those able to traverse academic and professional domains to advance pan-HEI projects. The session will explore a 10-point manifesto for change in the context of articulating definitions of ‘boundary spanning people, able to navigate the inherent tensions of bounded discipline-based scholarly communities, professional domain groupings, and students from all fields to advance sustainability projects that are multi-faceted, unbounded and emergent.

[1] Purcell, W. M. & Haddock-Fraser, J. (2023). Handbook of Sustainability in Higher Education: An Agenda for Transformational Change. Bloomsbury Press.


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2. Radical reforms for the campus of the future

Davis Bookhart, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and more to be announced
Wednesday June 8th, 11:00 – 12:30 Hong Kong Time (UTC+8)
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A net-zero campus in 2050 probably does not resemble our campuses of today.  In fact, some suggest that even four-year undergraduate degrees may soon be obsolete as the emphasis shifts to life-long learning models and personalized student training.  This means that the combination of net-zero pressures and the restructuring of teaching and learning models will fundamentally transform campuses that are ready (and punish those that are not).  In this session we will anticipate radical changes we might see in the coming decades and explore ways to get ahead of the curve for a soft (and sustainable) landing.


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3. Visualizing societal impact: Research and Education dashboards of the Sustainable Development Goals

Ivar Maas and Neele van den Bongardt, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Wednesday June 8th, 15:00 – 16:30 Central European Time (UTC+2)
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How can you make the impact of the university on the SDG’s visible? In collaboration with the Aurora Alliance, VU has developed a SDG research dashboard that demonstrates the societal relevance and societal impact of research. This dashboard shows the research contributions to these societal challenges, and how policymakers have used the research available to tackle these challenges.

Additionally, VU has also developed an SDG inventory of VU courses. There, students can see what SDG courses the university has to offer. During the session, we will present how the development of the dashboard was approached and what the next steps are.


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4. Accelerating Sustainability in Higher Education: Perspectives and Experiences from Latin American Universities

ISCN-Latin American Chapter Steering Committee
Wednesday June 8th, 11:00 – 12:30 Central Daylight Time (UTC-5)
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The ISCN-LATAM Steering Committee members will outline the unique challenges and opportunities universities are facing in advancing sustainability and share work to date on the development of the ISCN-LATAM Chapter. Each member will showcase sustainability initiatives at their respective universities and discuss opportunities for further collaboration. The session will help to generate ideas for the ISCN-LATAM Chapter work for the year ahead.


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5. How to report the transformation in higher education for global sustainability

Presentations from members of ISCN Sustainable Reporting Workgroup

  • Ana Carla Madeira, University of Porto
  • Andreas Dionyssiou, Cyprus University of Technology
  • Alexandra Bárzana, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Kristina von Oelreich, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
  • Omar Kassab, ETH Zurich

Followed by break-out rooms on specific topics moderated by Sonja Moghaddari, EPFL and Omar Kassab, ETH Zurich.

Thursday June 9th, 15:00 – 17:00 Central European Time (UTC+2)
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The pressure on communicating both internally and externally universities’ contributions to sustainable development has increased. This session will include four universities presenting how they have tackled sustainability reporting challenges and another presentation describing the survey on sustainability reporting that the Working Group will conduct during 2022.

This will be followed by interactive breakout rooms for more detailed discussions on specific issues related to sustainability reporting. The aim is to create smaller benchmarking groups on specific topics where the participants can continue sharing experiences during the year.


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6. Embedding Climate Change Education within HEIs

Dr. Vitalia Kinakh, The University of Manchester
Friday June 10th, 15:00 – 16:30 British Summer Time (UTC+1)
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Over the last decade Climate Change Education (CCE) at universities has increased (Filho et al. 2021; Thew et al., (2021). There is a range of published examples/case studies illustrating how CCE is embedded within certain courses/disciplines (Madden et al., 2018; Molthan-Hill et al., 2019; Kinakh, 2021). There are still challenges in addressing climate change within the teaching practices at universities.

This session seeks to further the debate on:

  • What are the attitudes of teaching staff to CEE, their knowledge of climate change and inclusion of ‘climate change’ topics in their teaching?
  • What strategies are more effective in educating modern-day students about climate change (e.g., how educators should teach and how undergraduate/postgraduate students might be engaged to learn about climate change and actions that can be taken to mitigate and adapt to climate change)?
  • To assist in embedding CEE in curricula, can the existing strategies, initiatives, case studies, etc. be replicated in universities across the globe and can challenges to implement CCE be addressed/resolved promptly?


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