Regenerative Sustainable Development of Universities and Cities
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Regenerative Sustainable Development of Universities and Cities

The Role of Living Laboratories

Edited by Ariane König

Now that the Earth has reached the limits of its biophysical carrying capacity, we have to change technologies, social practices and social norms relating to material production and consumption to ensure that we do not further jeopardize the functioning of our planet’s life support systems. Through research, education and civic engagement, universities have a pivotal role to play in this transition. This timely book explores how universities are establishing living laboratories for sustainable development, and examines the communication networks and knowledge infrastructures that underpin impact both on and beyond the campus.
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Chapter 7: Reconciling the pursuit of excellence with sustainable development at the University of Hong Kong

Ann Kildahl and Sarah Liao


With recent evidence of record greenhouse gas emissions pointing to a period of dangerous climate change in the coming decades (Clark, 2011; Harvey, 2011), there is an urgent need for institutions in the public and private sectors to adopt new approaches to low-carbon living for their own survival as well as for the communities they serve (Hunt and Li, 2011; National Research Council, 2009; Romm, 2007). In a growing number of universities around the world, sustainability researchers and practitioners are seeking ways to scale up their efforts, with a view to transforming higher education and wider society. While the overarching challenges of climate change and sustainability are common across cultures and continents, the development of responses clearly requires localized approaches tailored to the needs of individual institutions and communities. Research in the field of organizational change suggests that times of uncertainty can encourage imitation as ‘organizations tend to model themselves after other organizations in their field that they perceive to be more legitimate or more successful’ (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983, p. 152).

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