Sustainability practices at private universities: a state-of-the-art assessment

Walter Leal Filho, Marina Kovaleva, Barbara Fritzen Gomes, Hubert Fudjumdjum, Kay Emblen-Perry, Johannes Platje, Liza Tuladhar, Claudio R. P. Vasconcelos, Todd Jared LeVasseur, Aprajita Minhas, Carla Sofia Farinha, Marian Buil-Fabregá, Isabel Novo-Corti, Diana Mihaela Țîrcă, Dênis Antônio da Cunha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Private universities also play a key role in the sustainability debate. But despite their importance, there a shortage of research on how sustainability is being implemented at private universities. Based on the need to address this gap, this paper investigates the nature and diversity of sustainability-based practices undertaken at private universities. It outlines the ways private universities see and perceive sustainability, and examines by means of a survey involving 10 universities from across all geographical regions which educate over 150.000 students, how these universities incorporate sustainability-related practices, as part of their operations. The results suggest that, unlike their public counterparts, about half of the respondents stated that they do not have projects undertaken to promote sustainability in local communities or in their respective regions. Also, some private universities perceive themselves as leaders in sustainability in higher education, while some are still developing a more robust sustainability profile. The conclusions of the paper are that the special features related to sustainable development teaching and research at private universities need to be better identified, in order to involve them more on sustainability efforts. Also, whereas many of them are highly engaged on improving energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote sustainable water usage and promote sustainable landscaping, there is a need for them to also engage in other areas. Finally, private universities should engage on further efforts to increase their sustainability activities, which are beneficial to them in financial terms, as well as in respect of their image and their operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-416
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal Of Sustainable Development And World Ecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • private university
  • sustainability in higher education
  • Sustainability practice
  • sustainable development network
  • sustainable university


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