The maturation process of incorporating sustainability in universities

Luis Vargas, Claudia Mac-Lean, J.J.A. Hugé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the past few decades, sustainability in higher education has become ever more prevalent, although the diversity in pace of adoption and the wide range of interpretations and practices is huge. The purpose of this study is to present recent research on organizational change processes in universities.
The methodological approach applied corresponds to the social issue maturation framework, to identify, describe and assess patterns of change across higher education institutions. The maturation of sustainability in universities can be divided into four stages: emergence, popularization, formalization and maturity.
The findings indicate that sustainability processes often begin as ad hoc processes which grow and mature over time as a range of different actors join in. However, sustainability in universities is increasingly connected with sustainability in the private sector and with other public actors. Moreover, there is a growing acknowledgement of the interactions between society, industry and academia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-451
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • higher education
  • sustainable higher education
  • universities


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