How to walk the talk? Developing actions for sustainability in academic research.
Sustainability in higher education is a growing field of reflection and practice, yet integrating sustainability and academic research (as a distinct pillar of academia - next to education, societal service and campus operations) is still considered a challenge. This study: i. Proposes a conceptualization of sustainability in academic research based on an explorative literature review; ii. Suggests a range of actions fostering sustainability in academic research based on an expert-based workshop; and iii. Critically reflects on a case study entailing a university-wide sustainability transition initiative. The proposed conceptualization of sustainability in academic research is shaped by the diversity of perspectives in the scientific literature and focuses on the degree of disciplinary integration within and outside academia. Actions to foster sustainability in academic research include actions with regard to: i. Research funding; ii. Research & career evaluation; iii. Research organization; iv. Capacity building and v. policy. The emerging range of possible actions as designed by research managers as well as the early experience of individual higher education institutions in experimenting with sustainability in academic research contribute to the translation of sustainability into a range of tangible and realistic research actions for higher education institutions.
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