Educating for Sustainability: The Crucial Role of the Tertiary Sector

  •  Wendy Fehlner    


The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations represent a universal response to current global challenges that include climate change, poverty, political instability and the massive displacement of people worldwide. The central role of education in achieving sustainable development has been internationally acknowledged and successfully promoted: Global enrolment rates are now 90 percent for primary education and over 70 percent for secondary education. Building on these achievements, this paper focuses the role of tertiary education in contributing to sustainable development. This study reviewed recent theoretical and empirical research relating to the field. Conclusions from theoretical studies confirm that building on human capital is crucial for achieving the sustainable development goals. The majority of empirical studies also confirm a positive correlation between tertiary education and sustainable development. This study highlighted, however, that the full benefits of tertiary education to society may have been underestimated and that there are significant research gaps in the field. Furthermore, current challenges including funding, equity and market relevancy in tertiary education need to be addressed. Given the pressing global issues and the mounting evidence of positive impacts, this paper calls for more research and attention to be devoted to tertiary education in the sustainable development debate.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • Issn(Print): 1913-9063
  • Issn(Onlne): 1913-9071
  • Started: 2008
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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