New ISCN Peer Review Program

A critically important component of developing campus sustainability programs, strategic plans and policies is the engagement and feedback of the institution's core constituents. Less frequently, however, do universities actively seek feedback from other higher education institutions in the form of a peer review process. ISCN members have a wealth of experience and knowledge from which other members would greatly benefit.

We are excited to announce that we are launching a new ISCN Peer Review Program for members. This program connects members who are developing sustainability strategic plans, policies, and programs with other ISCN colleagues for review and feedback. The aim is to improve the final product delivered, as well as add further credibility to the process of how the document was developed.

Please email us at [email protected] if you would like to participate in the program or volunteer to be a reviewer.

Press Release: Research and university communities united to tackle global climate challenges


Brussels, 3 November 2022

Ahead of COP27, research and university organisations join forces to renew the call for collective, common global efforts for climate action, launched last year.

The European association of leading universities of science and technology (CESAER), the European University Association (EUA), the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), Science Europe, the Network of Universities in Capitals (UNICA), the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow the city hosting COP26, gathered to mobilise their expertise and call for cooperation in urgent climate actions.

Today’s online symposium on “Interdisciplinarity for the Net-Zero Transition”, a lead-up event to COP27, was an opportunity for the six organisations to present their commitment for climate action, share good practice, concrete examples, and call for the mobilisation of research and higher education communities. In 2021, CESAER, ISCN, Science Europe and the University of Strathclyde, in the city of Glasgow which hosted COP26, launched a Call to Action for research performing and funding organisations and universities regarding the Net-Zero Transition. This year, EUA and UNICA joined the four partners in co-organising the COP27 lead-up symposium focused on “interdisciplinarity”.

Universities and research performing and funding organisations are key contributors to the global Net-Zero Transition effort in reducing their energy consumption and, most importantly, providing new insights into challenges, as well as solutions, including ‘green’ technologies and societal innovations. The climate crisis has multiple causes but only collective efforts and action, embedding whole-systems approaches will address and mitigate it effectively. Innovative and scientifically rigorous methods for estimating and mitigating increases in greenhouse gas and harmful emissions are needed to enable a more effective, robust and concentrated effort with resources being enabled for long-term investments to expedite the Net-Zero Transition.

With our commitment for the Net-Zero Transition, together with partners from the research and university systems, we want to mobilise policymakers and societal stakeholders in a collective effort for the most pressing challenge of our time: climate change,” declared Professor Rik Van de Walle, President of CESAER.

European universities are committed to responding to societal concerns about the climate crisis, including by tailoring our educational offerings to ensure maximum impact through our graduates. The efforts and reforms we are seeing on the part of universities are informed by the demands of our students and engagement with our local communities, two drivers that are just as meaningful for climate action as regulations or targets for specific industries” declared Michael Murphy, President of EUA.

The Net-Zero Transition is needed now, more than ever. The energy crisis, the war in Ukraine, and the lingering effects of COVID are all striking and dramatic revelations of the interconnectedness of our world, of which climate and sustainability are the ultimate examples. We are therefore committed to promoting international collaboration and working to build bridges between our institutions, to deepen our impact and accelerate our efforts toward realizing the Net-Zero Transition,” stated Professor Gisou van der Goot, President of ISCN.

Interdisciplinary research is not a new concept: we know we need to further mobilise all disciplines and organisations to tackle the climate crisis. We have just published a report with the experiences of Science Europe members. We need to scale up these efforts and work together involving all disciplines, research partners and societal stakeholders,” stated Angelika Kalt, Vice-President of Science Europe.

UNICA universities have the unique privilege of being in capital cities, which gives them the ability and the responsibility to influence European and government policies on the crucial challenges affecting our societies and our planet. We are determined to build on this specificity by encouraging our members to harness their academic research, innovative grit, and heterogeneous communities to impact policies in the direction of a green transition. We are committed to reach a sustainable future,” said Professor Luciano Saso, President of UNICA.

We share a vision of a world where research and education communities work together to solve urgent global challenges and believe that research and education will underpin a sustainable relationship between the use and preservation of natural resources, and human activity,” said Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (UK).

The organisers propose a systemic approach where universities, national research performing organisations and research funding organisations shall work together, involving policymakers, business sectors, and non-government organisations, in Europe and globally.


 Further information

 Call To Action to Research Organisations for the Net-Zero Transition (pdf)

 Press contact

Valentina Garoia, Science Europe Communications Manager

Email: [email protected]

Tel.: + 32 (0)2 226 03 06



CESAER is the European association of leading specialised and comprehensive universities of science and technology that: champion excellence in higher education, training, research, and innovation; influence debate; contribute to the realisation of open knowledge societies; and deliver significant scientific, social, economic, and societal impact.

European University Association (EUA) represents more than 850 universities and national rectors’ conferences in 49 European countries. EUA plays a crucial role in the Bologna Process and in influencing EU policies on higher education, research, and innovation. Through continuous interaction with a range of other European and international organisations, EUA ensures that the independent voice of European universities is heard.

International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) is a global network of 100 universities in over 30 countries. The mission of the network is to provide an international forum to support higher education institutions in the exchange of information, ideas, and best practices for achieving sustainable campus operations and integrating sustainability in research and teaching.

Science Europe is the association representing 40 public research funding and performing organisations across 30 European countries. It brings together the scientific expertise of its members to push the frontiers of how scientific research is produced and delivers benefits to society. It advocates science and the scientific community to help build the European Research Area.

UNICA is an institutional Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe. It is currently made up of 56 universities from 41 capital cities of Europe. UNICA seeks to facilitate international collaborations and promote academic leadership through understanding and sharing between its Members throughout the European Higher Education Area. UNICA articulates the views of Member Universities to European institutions, to national, regional, and municipal governments, and internationally.

University of Strathclyde is a leading international technological university based in Glasgow, UK. Inspired by the founding principle ‘a place of useful learning’, its mission is to make a positive difference to the lives of its students, to society and to the world. It is a member of CESAER and ISCN and works closely with government, industry and NGO partners on the Net-Zero Transition.

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Transformational Change and 3rd-Way People

Guest post written by Wendy M. Purcell, PhD FRSA, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The ISCN Conference 2022 opened with the session ‘Sustainability: A Manifesto for Change and ‘Third-way’ People’ that brought together authors from the forthcoming Bloomsbury Handbook of Sustainability in Higher Education (Editors: Wendy M. Purcell & Janet Haddock-Fraser; due out early 2023). Julie Newman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) and Shana Weber (Princeton University, USA), authors of Chapter 13 ‘Accelerating Response to a Changing Climate: Solutions Across Scales’, Julio Lumbreras (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain) author of Chapter 15 ‘University-City Partnerships for Sustainable Urban Transformations’ (co-authored with Jaime Moreno-Serna, Guillermo Palau, Jordi Peris, Valentia Oquendo, Teresa Sánchez-Chaparro, and Carlos Mataix), and Dave Gorman (The University of Edinburgh, UK), author of Chapter 16 ‘Transformational Change: Lessons from the University of Edinburgh (co-authored with Michelle Brown) and I (author of Chapter 14 ‘University Leadership and Governance Enabling Sustainability and the SDGs’) each shared highlights from our chapters. The book concludes with a ten-point manifesto for change in higher education fueled by sustainability and engagement with the SDGs.

The session then launched a dialogue with attendees around the topic of ‘third-way’ people, i.e., those able to traverse the academic and professional domains of a university or college to advance pan-institutional sustainability projects. It is worth noting that Julie, Shana, and Dave are each based in a university ‘green office’, while Julio works closely as a member of a cross-university interdisciplinary institute charged with addressing the SDGs. They each shared examples of ‘boundary spanning’ projects, revealing how they navigated the inherent tensions of discipline-based scholarly communities, professional domain groupings, and student subject communities. In this way they are able to advance sustainability projects that are multi-faceted, unbounded, and emergent.

As the work of sustainability in higher education extends beyond a focus on energy and estates into institutional strategy and academic mission, so too then university green offices are assuming new responsibilities. They are working horizontally across functions of the institution, vertically within the hierarchy of institutional leaders and subject leaders, engaging with stakeholder groups internally and externally, and extending their reach locally and globally. They are networked leaders, collaborating across these different boundaries to advance sustainability. To address the complexities inherent in the pursuit of sustainability within higher education and through the academy into society at large, demands leaders able to connect people to practice, translate strategy to action, and create value through delivery of the mission and brand.

The ISCN wants to keep this conversation going, and is furthering the webinar series featuring authors from the Bloomsbury Handbook of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Webinar 2:
Webinar 3:
Fourth webinar details to come

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Global climate summit launches worldwide education coalition

ISCN is proud to be a partner in a newly formed worldwide education coalition in support of the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit.

The December 1–4 summit is co-hosted by United Nations Human Rights and the University of Colorado Boulder and will take place virtually and in person on the university’s campus in Boulder.

Learners and educators of all ages, from primary school classrooms to university research labs, are invited to engage in this landmark event through the new Right Here, Right Now Education Coalition. Participating institutions and individuals will receive free access to a coalition toolkit—including information on how to host watch parties and how to spread the word about the connections between human rights and climate change, and why that connection matters to everyone.

“Climate change is already having significant impacts around the world, and marginalized communities often bear the brunt of the devastating impacts of these events. Through the new Right Here, Right Now Education Coalition, we aim to galvanize people around the world to focus on addressing the urgent issue of climate change through a human rights lens.”

—Heidi VanGenderen, CU Boulder chief sustainability officer, co-chair of the summit’s steering committee

Beyond ISCN, Right Here, Right Now Education Coalition partners include the Association of American Universities (AAU), American Council on Education (ACE), Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Association of Public & Land Grant Universities, Global Council for Science and the Environment, Second Nature and the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3). Through this coalition, the summit is already connecting with thousands of educational institutions and related entities around the world.

Departments, classes, clubs and people affiliated with educational institutions are encouraged to join the summit by watching events locally from their computers and phones—either live or through recordings.

Summit organizers are developing climate education and summit-specific resources for educators and will share them with coalition members as they become available.

“The summit organizers want to thank our amazing partners,” said Heidi VanGenderen, CU Boulder’s first chief sustainability officer and co-chair of the summit’s steering committee. “To solve the world’s climate crisis, young people from all nations need the chance to learn about how climate change is affecting their own communities. These organizations are helping to share those opportunities with the next generation of global leaders.”

The summit will bring together thought leaders, youth activists, and scientific, political, educational, cultural and industry experts from around the world for keynote addresses and panels exploring how climate change impacts fundamental rights, including the right to food, safe water, housing and health.

The event will include three keynote speakers, including former president of Ireland and climate justice advocate Mary Robinson, Indigenous rights advocate Sheila Watt-Cloutier and human rights advocate Kumi Naidoo, in addition to more than 30 other panelists and speakers from Colombia, Cameroon, Trinidad and beyond.

Learn more about and join this global network of students and educations


Sustainability Reporting Survey – Invitation to participate

Deadline extended to December 14, 2022.

You are invited and encouraged to participate in a survey on Sustainability Reporting at Higher Education Institutions. The survey will gain an understanding of existing sustainability reporting practices in the global higher education sector.

Your response is valuable and will help us to identify current practices for reporting sustainability, the associated opportunities and challenges, and will form the basis for policy recommendations.

The survey was created by experts from an international group of higher education institutions with the support of ISCN.

The deadline for completion is October 31, 2022 December 14, 2022 and the survey will take around 45 minutes to complete. It is possible to complete the survey in multiple sessions if the same browser is used.

Your participation is greatly appreciated in compiling a comprehensive picture of sustainability around the world. Anonymised results will be shared in a report in 2023.

Contact [email protected] if you have any questions about the survey.


Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

COP26 President convenes higher education sustainability and climate network leaders

On February 21, 2022, COP26 President Alok Sharma, in partnership with the UK COP26 Universities Network and the International Sustainable Campus Network, brought together leading global climate and sustainability networks to explore opportunities for collective impact in the run-up to COP27.

President Alok Sharma focused on the critical role that universities play in advancing climate action and emphasised that universities need to work together in order to maximise their climate impact. The session called on higher education institutions to unite under a collective vision to drive the Glasgow commitments forward and keep momentum going toward COP27.

ISCN Board President, Gisou van der Goot and ISCN Executive Director, Victoria Smith attended the meeting and will continue working with global network colleagues to plan for a coordinated presence at COP27.

Fund your project with an ISCN Grant!

We recognize that this is an exceptional time for all across the globe, and we hope you and your families are staying healthy and well.

As we think of ways of building resilience into our work in sustainability on our campuses, continued collaboration with ISCN members remains a top priority. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce the second round of ISCN Capacity Building Seed Funding for 2020.

These grants are designed to help ISCN members leverage the network and propel emerging projects forward. Given that much of our work is now virtual, we are keen to see projects with innovative engagement solutions for the near-term.

We are offering seed funding of up to $5,000 (USD) per project. To leverage the pool of funding for members most effectively, projects that can contribute match funding will receive a higher score (note - this is not a requirement to submit a proposal).

We are looking to fund projects across these three categories:

  • Ambassadors - a mentoring program for members and pilot institutions
  • Peer Exchange - a process for members to engage with other member schools
  • City-University - an opportunity for members to work with city partners to pilot joint initiatives

We are also open to new project streams, so please do share your ideas with us. Complete a letter of interest and identify your project partners, goals and budget by September 18th, 2020.

To download the ISCN Capacity Building Seed Funding Submission Template please click on this link: ISCN Capacity Building Seed Funding Template

Please fill out the project template and send to:

Victoria Smith,

Co-Executive Director, ISCN

[email protected]                                                      


The ISCN Leadership Team

ISCN establishes partnership with the Earth Day Network

As part of its strategic priorities, ISCN is actively working to:

  1. Enhance member value through robust exchange and engagement platforms
  2. Elevate ISCN’s presence with key peer networks, agencies and funders
  3. Mobilize the network around key themes/projects to focus activities, and to
  4. Increase student involvement with the network

In line with this priorities, ISCN has established a collaborative partnership with  the Earth Day Network.

For more information on the Earth Day Network and their current global campaign, Mobilize U,  please refer to the text below.

MobilizeU, Earth Day Network

Colleges and universities have been the central figures of Earth Day since its beginning in 1970. The higher education community is pivotal in creating the next generation of environmental leaders needed to protect our planet. Earth Day Network’s ever-growing international network of universities and students are creating change on their local campuses; through the MobilizeU campaign their voices are united and amplified, forming a global call for action that cannot be ignored.

There are 3 main ways to contribute to the collective impact on April 22nd, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

  1. By organizing Earth Day teach-ins, forums, and cleanups and, most importantly, registering them on our global map, your campus can join thousands of others around the world standing up for our planet and empowering students to further this mission.
  2. The innovation and organizing capacity of your students cannot be underrated. Encourage your passionate students to register as the MobilizeU Ambassador for your campus. These students will receive the support and tools they need to lead their peers in activism on Earth Day.
  3. Finally, join the MobilizeU Newsletter to stay updated with resources, opportunities and tips for universities to make the most impact on Earth Day.

ISCN direction image , International Sustainable Campus Network

Special Announcement: ISCN Presidency Transition

Dear All,

After three very enjoyable years as president of the ISCN Board I am pleased to hand over this exciting task to Etienne Marclay from EPFL who I am sure will be an excellent president and who will help to further develop the network with great enthusiasm. Over the past three years ISCN has taken important steps towards reaching its ambitious goal, i.e., to become the global network for sustainable transformation within universities. Much of the achievements have been due to some outstanding people who have put a lot of passion and enormous efforts into building a community that has now taken ownership of the network, which is a prerequisite for being successful in the future. In particular, I would like to thank Victoria Smith as well as Heather Vickery and Bernd Kasemir who have done a marvelous job in running the network and who have made it very easy for me to “play” president of the board. ISCN would also not be where it is today without Melissa Goodall, Heather Henriksen and the whole AC who have made sure that the network has kept its momentum and continues to do so. Thank you all very much! And, last but not least, I thank my colleagues of the ISCN Board for a very pleasant and fruitful collaboration. I am leaving the board with one laughing and one crying eye since being involved in the leadership of this great network has been a real pleasure which I will miss, at least a little bit ……. I wish ISCN all the best for the future and KEEP GOING!

René Schwarzenbach
ISCN outgoing President

Dear ISCN Members,

It is my great pleasure to take over ISCN Presidency as of 1 October 2019 and I would like to thank the Board and the Advisory Committee for this vote of confidence.

First of all I would like to express my warmest and most sincere thanks to René and Bernd for having made ISCN what it is today: an outstanding global network of academic institutions dedicated to working together to shift the world to a more sustainable path.

The ISCN team at EPFL and myself are very much looking forward to working with all of you to further strengthen the network as a global leader and make it an example of transparency, inclusiveness and diversity providing strong value for the ISCN members. I’m very pleased to be able to continue to count on the very important support of Victoria Smith from UBC and the contributions of the AC under the  leadership and strong dedication of Melissa Goodall from Yale, and Heather Henriksen from Harvard.  One of the key instruments to implement these goals is the ISCN strategic plan that has been developed by Victoria through a wide consultation process of ISCN members. The strategic plan will be shared with all of you in the next ISCN newsletter.

We are also very excited to announce the next ISCN conference that will take place at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland from 24-26 June 2020. The conference will focus on Sustainability in Education: Institutional and Student Perspectives. We really encourage you to be an active part of the ISCN community and attend the conference to jointly identify efficient solutions for a more sustainable future.

Etienne Marclay,
ISCN incoming President