Learning for and about sustainability in higher education – a regional perspective based on experiences from the Baltic and the Mediterranean

Michael Scoullos, Vicky Malotidi, Paula Lindroos, Sinikka Suomalainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to present and compare collective efforts of higher education institutions working through regional networks in introducing and promoting education for sustainable development (ESD) and environmental education (EE) in two most significant EU boarder regions. Efforts to support EE/ESD in higher education are usually undertaken at individual universities and, in some cases, at national level, still remaining very fragmented; therefore, the examples of University networks in the Baltic and the Mediterranean regions are of particular interest and importance. Both regions have regional conventions, protocols and strategies for the relevant seas, bringing EU and neighbouring countries of the regions together for the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development (SD) within which EE and ESD are embedded. Design/methodology/approach – This paper presents the driving forces for the establishment, evolution and design of relevant activities of these two networks, making also a few inter-comparisons and recommendations for further improvements. Findings – Both regions, the Baltic and the Mediterranean, have multiple needs and high potential for more efficient linking of SD with higher education. Early enough it was realised that regional networking could stimulate countries and universities towards this task. Two networks were set up: the Baltic University Programme (starting already in 1991) and the Mediterranean Universities Network for SD focusing on ESD (starting in 2007). The paper reviews main activities of the networks together with lessons learned and gives directions for their future operations. Originality/value – This paper is one of the rare case studies related to higher education networking on ESD and demonstrates how networking on ESD, apart from enhancing professional development, supports also SD and promotes cooperation and peace in regions that have a history of frequently turbulent relationships. Keywords Sustainable development, Competence development, Baltic University Programme, MedUnNET, Regional/international cooperation
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)877–893
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Sustainable development
  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • interregional cooperation

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