Transcript Slide 1

Modelling Institutional Change for
Sustainability in Universities
Carolyn Roberts
Director, Centre for Active Learning
University of Gloucestershire
ICEE Conference, Ahmedabad,
India, 24-27th November 2007
Institutional change
• Several examples of the nature and process of
institutional change in universities working
towards more sustainable practices in the West
– e.g. Downey, for Sheffield Hallam UK; Gudz,
for British Columbia; Thomas for Melbourne,
Australia; von Oelreich for Mälardalen, Sweden
• Also many examples of the changes occasioned
by particular activities such as environmental
auditing of a campus (Bardati, for Bishop’s
University, Quebec)
• Few are long term studies, and most separate
out curriculum from ‘housekeeping’ issues in
considering whole institutional practices.
The University of
Gloucestershire case study
• University based in the Midlands/South
West of England
• Higher Education courses since 1847,
University title since 2003
• ‘Liberal arts’ College plus+
• c. 10,000 Bachelor’s, Masters and PhD
students, including some distance learners
• Teaching-led, research-informed
• Diverse set of five campuses in three
locations (Cheltenham, Gloucester,
London), some historic, some modern
The University Mission
“is to create a dynamic and sustainable
portfolio of learning opportunities for the
communities it serves. Within this
overarching mission, the University will
contribute fully to the economic, social
and cultural life of Gloucestershire and its
region, while fostering national and
international links. It will also develop an
approach to social responsibility which
reflects its commitment to sustainability
and social justice.”
BS14001 Environmental
Management Standard
• First English university to achieve British
Standard ISO14001 Environmental
Management System for the whole
institution, in July 2005, after three years
of specifically working towards this
• ISO14001 provides a framework for
targets, responsibility and accountability,
plus a driver for continuous improvement
Other indicators of
‘sustainability’ practice
• Forum for the Future (NGO) identified the
university as a – ‘Trailblazer’ institution,
1997, in their HE21 initiative funded by
central government
• Highly commended for transport policy,
‘Green Gown Award’, 2006
• Highly commended, Times Higher
Education Supplement Award
‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable
Development’ 2006
• Shortlisted for curriculum development,
‘Green Gown Award’ 2007
Institutional Background to
• Environmental and sustainability
commitment in the University ‘Vision’
• Institutional level policy and
implementation strategies on sustainable
• Vice Chancellor’s commitment to
sustainability, including in the curriculum
• Strongly centralised quality assurance
systems for teaching
Modelling Institutional
Change – Simple models 1
1. Initiation
Structure, clarity, advocacy, champions,
2. Implementation
Responsibility, empowerment, pressure,
Faculty development
3. Institutionalisation
Embedding, organisational, strength,
spread, facilitation
In Hopkins, 2002
Modelling Institutional
Change – Simple models 2
Choosing the target (beginning)
Expanding the scope of change
Making connections and sustaining the
change process
5. Rebalancing the campus to support
different ways of doing things
6. Reflection on the significance of what
we have done
7. Ending
Ramaley, 1994
Modelling Institutional
Change – Simple models 3
The Four Factors for Success
1. Pressure for change
2. A clear, shared vision
3. Capacity for change
4. Action
UK Government Office for the South West, 2004
Modelling Institutional
Change – Simple models 4
Appreciative Enquiry Approach
1. Appreciating and valuing the best of
‘what is’
2. Envisioning ‘what might be’
3. Dialoguing ‘what should be’
4. Innovating ‘what will be’
Hammond, 1998
Modelling Institutional
Change – Simple models 5
Super-ordinate goals
McKinsey, 2002
Another simple change model
Models of change in Higher
Education, according to
Trowler et al, 2003
Resource allocation
Kai Zen or continuous quality
• Models using complexity
Kotter’s Eight Stages of
Establishing a sense of urgency
Creating a guiding coalition
Developing a vision and strategy
Communicating the change vision
Empowering broad-based action
Generating short term wins
Consolidating gains and producing
more change
8. Anchoring new approaches in the
Kotter, 1995
The Ladder of Divine
Ascent metaphor
St. John Climacus’s text
explains the ‘journey to
Heaven’ as involving many
challenging steps. The icon
shows monks on the ladder,
demons trying to pull them off,
the mouth of Hades
swallowing up those who have
fallen off, the angels lamenting
over those who have fallen,
and people on the earth
praying for those on the
ladder. Christ is depicted at
the top of the ladder, waiting
for the successful ones to
enter His holy Kingdom.
Establishing an initial sense
of urgency
Need for compliance
with legislation (e.g. on
waste) at the time of
external audit of the
University (fear??)
Vice Chancellor’s personal
UK Higher
awareness of
issues’ was
strong in
Potential employability
imperative for students
Regional Development
Agency interest in
‘environmental issues’
Need for a unique
institutional ‘selling point’
for student recruitment
Desire to link curriculum and
research activity in the
School of Environment to
local, national and
international communities
Establishing an initial sense
of urgency
1. Drivers for
• Generic
Pressures to HE
• Specific
2. Drivers for
• Political
• Economic
• Socio-cultural
• Technological
• Legal
• Environmental
Creating a guiding coalition
• From 1992 the ‘Environmental Management
Committee’ and from 2001 the ‘Sustainable
Development Committee’, with sufficient power
to drive the agenda
• The ‘best’ people, regardless of their roles,
including academic staff/Faculty and
professional support staff with responsibilities in
key areas such as purchasing, estates, human
resource management, external relations,
curriculum, teaching and learning
• Need for understanding of both the external
context and philosophy of SD, and the internal
processes of the University
• A subsidiary ‘ISO14001 Working Group’ created
in 2002
Developing a vision and
• Wide ranging aspirations embracing all
areas of the university’s practice
• Multiple goals and targets – managerial
and educational
• Initially ‘environmental’ goals, and latterly
‘sustainability’ goals
• Evidence-based practice
• Involving all staff and students as
The University Vision
Is to be a high quality university with
global reach which is passionate about:
The creation and transmission of
Its students and staff working in
partnership for mutual benefit
Providing accessible opportunities for
learning at all ages and levels
Diversity, sustainability and social justice
Building on its Christian foundation
Sustainable Development
“underpins each of the University’s
strategic priorities and informs all
elements of University life. The
University promotes sustainable
development, locally and globally,
through teaching, research,
knowledge transfer and the general
conduct of its business.”
Definition continued..
‘Sustainable development is recognised
internationally and by the UK
Government as having four main
components, namely
• Social progress which recognises the
needs of everyone
• Effective protection of the environment
• Prudent use of natural resources
• Maintenance of high and stable levels of
economic growth and employment’
The SD policy includes:
Curriculum Strategy
Utilities Strategy
Transport Strategy
Waste Management Strategy
Procurement Strategy
Buildings and Estates
Community Development (to come)
What did we do?
• Environmental Management Committee
initiated in 1991, with cross institutional
• Policy and strategies
• First ‘State of the Environment Report’
undertaken by staff and students in 1993,
following local government guidelines
• Individual initiatives such as recycling
drives, energy and paper awareness,
ecological art exhibitions, mass bicycle
rally, ‘environment week’, bus service
Communicating the change
• Using every mechanism possible to
communicate the new vision and
strategies to staff, students and
• Provide staff development for all
• Motivating and inspiring; going for
challenging targets
• Linking the ‘housekeeping’ and the
formal curriculum in projects
• Mixture of ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’
Empowering broad-based
• Getting rid of obstacles, including
maverick ideas (“well, of course this
doesn’t apply to me/our course/my
research/my area of responsibility”)
• Challenging structures and pushing the
boundaries, including University
regulations, and asking ‘why?’
• Recognising immovable objects and
circumventing them
• Drawing in student activity e.g. in
community programmes and in reviewing
the University’s operations
Generating short term wins
• Media interest in environmental ‘stories’
• University hosts part of the national
seminar series on ‘Taking Responsibility:
Promoting Sustainable Practice through
Higher Education Curricula’, 1994-5
• University identified as an environmental
‘Trailblazer’ in 1997
• School of Environment achieves success
and is identified as a national ‘Centre of
Excellence in Teaching and Learning’,
and wins £5M, in 2005. New ‘Centre for
Active Learning in Geography,
Environment and Related Disciplines’
The Gloucestershire
approach to active learning
“The distinctive feature of
the University of
Gloucestershire definition
of active learning is that it
centres on the mastery of
theory within a ‘learning
by doing’ approach
involving working in real
places with actual people
and live projects”
Consolidating gains and
producing more change
• Identifying ISO14001 as the vehicle for
maintaining progress
• Review suggests areas for improvement,
including limited progress on estates,
water management, some areas of the
• Need to involve more students, and reengage with the Students’ Union
• Need for more high profile initiatives
• ‘Fairtrade University’ status achieved,
July 2006
Anchoring new approaches
in the culture
• Using the Quality Assurance system for
teaching to promote ‘compliance’ in the
• Encouraging multiple interpretations of
the phrase ‘SD’ by different groups
• Producing an edited book of 37 case
studies – ‘Greener by Degrees’ (2007)
• Maintaining dialogue amongst different
groups internal and external
• Enabling activity; promoting links
What were the key drivers?
• External pressure/stimulus/risk
• Strong guiding coalition/team
• Drawing on existing diversity of strengths
and interests in the University
• Utilising a mixture of centralised and
decentralised decision making
• Utilising diversity in the campuses as a
‘laboratory’ for experimentation
• Publicity relating to early wins
• New goals being adopted e.g. ISO14001
• Serendipity
What did not drive change
• Significant expenditure of resources,
except time (especially ‘transactional’
time). Costs included a junior part time
‘environmental manager’ from 2005, but
the main responsibilities for
administration were linked with Health
and Safety
• Technology
• Agonising over ‘top down’ or ‘bottom up’
• Promotion or other financial rewards
Ambiguous issues
• Students’ interest and attitudes are variable,
and challenging to harness except through
the formal taught curriculum. Voluntary
groups come and go.
• University Quality Assurance systems for
teaching have vacillated in their support for
• Research and curriculum strengths will vary
with national patterns of recruitment and
• In the transformation from ‘environmentally
friendly’ to ‘sustainable’, ISO14001 is
Models of change
• Change is highly complex, not linear, but
can be steered to some degree
• Many changes occur concurrently,
change breeds change
• Change can be developmental or
• We shift rapidly and dynamically between
• Goals are adjusted and we move towards
a new goal without achieving the first
• No end point can be defined
What’s missing from the simple
models of change?
• Key roles and strengths of team members
• Communication amongst the team and
beyond – celebrating success:
• Developing mutual support, a ‘community
of scholars’, through staff development
• The role of the students, in joining and
supporting the enterprise
• Evaluating the change and developing as
a ‘learning institution’
• New opportunities, challenges (and risks)
Models using complexity
• Indeterminate systems, hence outcomes
are not predictable. Can create likely
conditions for change
• No locus of power; ‘power is’. System not
directly controllable but open to indirect
• Multiple small changes provide suitable
conditions for change
• Over-optimal supply of ‘tools’ required
• Change champions are organic,
intellectual and skilled in praxis and
creating affordances
Trowler, Saunders and Knight, 2003
Dreamtime as a metaphor of
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