Fostering Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility in Higher Education: The Case of Tor Vergata University of Rome
AbstractIn the panorama of international strategies and commitments to sustainability, education is central to the pursuit of sustainable development. Educational institutions at all levels are playing a new role in promoting values and ideals linked to sustainable behavioral models. These models can face the complexity of reality in a cooperative, active and responsible way, leading to a vision for solidarity and progress. In this context, universities face huge challenges. They must recognize the changes happening in society and change accordingly. Universities are therefore increasingly required to actively introduce attitudes and behaviors that favor sustainable development and involve the entire academic community in this process. This paper aims to define the role of universities in sustainable development. As well as training professionals, their roles and responsibilities mean that they strongly influence the societies in which they operate. To become sustainable and ensure that their respective territories follow suit, universities must change internally and initiate systemic processes to engage all members of their communities. Moreover, dynamic bottom-up models of learning and dissemination of environmental sustainability and social responsibility should aim to encourage students to be active inside and outside their universities. After a detailed literature review, this paper explores how sustainable development should be used in educational paths as well as didactic activities to influence the way students think, act and engage within their academic communities. Based on the objective of this work, the case of the Tor Vergata University of Rome is used to describe the results of the active change.
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