Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Italian Path toward SDGs Implementation: a First Mapping Exercise

Version 1 : Received: 28 January 2020 / Approved: 29 January 2020 / Online: 29 January 2020 (12:10:02 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Sonetti, G.; Barioglio, C.; Campobenedetto, D. Education for Sustainability in Practice: A Review of Current Strategies within Italian Universities. Sustainability 2020, 12, 5246. Sonetti, G.; Barioglio, C.; Campobenedetto, D. Education for Sustainability in Practice: A Review of Current Strategies within Italian Universities. Sustainability 2020, 12, 5246.


Unlike other SDGs, the SDG4 about quality education is not a goal in itself, but rather a tool to achieve different goals. Universities in this respect play a crucial role in the short-term implementation of SDGs for education, including new approaches and contents. Current academic debates explore the best practices via deductive-theoretical or inductive-experiential methods, yet not always considering the geographical, and therefore cultural and infrastructural factors affecting the success and the failure of such practices. In this paper, we systematize the implementation of SDGs in Italian universities from 2016 to 2019. Eighteen experiences have been collected after a national call by the Italian Network of Sustainable Universities (RUS) aimed at mapping the current landscape of SDG related actions. Results have been analyzed according to two criteria: 1- the educational "container" where the SDGs implementation takes place (from random workshops to dedicated courses); 2- the different organizational scales (from the foundation of a new department to the campaigns by local green teams). With this paper, we do not propose a total refunding or "deus-ex-machina" solutions, disregarding the local factors and the local resources in Italian universities. On the contrary, we draw a map to propose the reuse of an existing structure with adjustments, retrofitting and renewal actions towards holistic and coordinated sustainability efforts. Results show that, within the Italian context, SDGs implementation is still primarily understood as a strategic element for branding and promoting the green image of the Athenaeum. Secondarily, it is seen whether as a separate discipline to be inserted into existing curricula and original teachings or as a conceptual tool for remedying specific societal challenges through random workshops or fieldworks. Conclusions highlight the value of this first Country-wide systematization of the Italian Higher Education Institutions toward SDGs implementation. This exercise avoids individual experiences remaining isolated and self-concluded, and, most importantly, provides comparability and transferability criteria to help similar cases. Further works envisage the recognition of same elements in the broader European traditions, as well as the enhancement of stimuli for a personal and societal transformation generated by the partnership of all those people and institutions engaged in the exciting yet urgent defy of today's societal challenges.


Societal Challenges; mission-oriented; sustainability education; higher education institutions; partnership for the goals


Social Sciences, Education

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