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Sustainability in Higher Education: Perspectives of Malaysian Higher Education System

Sustainability in Higher Education: Perspectives of Malaysian Higher Education System Sustainability describes how a system remains diverse and productive; this is the potential for long-term maintenance of well-being having ecological, economic, political, and cultural dimensions. Education for sustainable development (ESD) emphasizes on including the key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning, that is, climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption. This effort requires effective pedagogy to ensure a participatory teaching and learning method that will motivate and empower future leaders to ensure sustainability in their social systems. Malaysia has incorporated the principles of Agenda 21 as one of the important sustainable development documents into its national planning process. However, the effectiveness of these teaching–learning programs, and their effective pedagogical approaches and endpoints are not satisfactorily ensured. Therefore, at first, this article reviews the existing various programs and research activities of public and private higher educational institutions in Malaysia that address sustainability. It then discusses the pedagogical approaches of these programs and how they are related to the key concept of the ESD. Finally, some conclusions and recommendations have been suggested to improve the initiatives to develop a scientifically sound and effective pedagogy for the ESD programs in higher education systems in Malaysia. Keywords education for sustainable development (ESD), pedagogy, higher education system, disaster risk reduction, sustainable consumption sustainability (Tilbury, 2011). Higher educational institu- Introduction tions (HEIs) are leading social and cultural changes from the Education for sustainable development (ESD) or sustainabil- forefront through research-based findings and also through ity education (SE) suggests for a scientific and balanced cur- the education of intellectuals, leaders, and future makers riculum that will encompass sustainability in the academic (Lozano, 2006). This is also argued that higher education can courses and research. However, they are very poorly under- change the world through training and expand young minds, stood and implemented, and little attention has been paid for researching answers to challenges and supporting public a holistic effort to build a generation having awareness and policies. HEIs also can showcase an example to the society willingness to work for sustainable development. The educa- through its understanding and commitment through careful tion perspective brings significance to the individual’s learn- campus management. Eventually, they have been taking the ing, such as the pedagogy, and the emancipation. These responsibilities to providing capable employer and active perspectives of sustainable development combine the aspects member of the business and local communities (Galang, of policy and management of processes in institutions and 2010; Lotz-Sisitka, 2011). communities. Therefore, there appears to be a consensus that In the early 1970s, Stockholm Conference on the Human ESD as a force, phenomenon, or tool within the contempo- Environment (United Nations Environment Programme rary education includes issues of ethics, equity, and new ways of thinking and learning. In the educational system, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia formal and nonformal means of pedagogy have to be reck- Corresponding Author: oned with, and they all add values. Mohammad Imam Hasan Reza, Southeast Asia Disaster Prevention In recent time, sustainability challenges the current para- Research Initiative (SEADPRI), Institute for Environment and digms, structures as well as effective practices in higher edu- Development (LESTARI), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, cation. Universities and higher education institutions are Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. facing this reality as they need a meaningful contribution to Email: reza@ukm.edu.my Creative Commons CC-BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage). 2 SAGE Open [UNEP], 1972) was the first initiative to identify the role of higher education in progressing sustainable development at the international level formally, followed by the Belgrade Charter (1976) and the Tbilisi Declaration (1977; http://www.gdrc.org/ uem/ee/tbilisi.html). These are the outcomes of the world’s first Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education organized by UNESCO in cooperation with the UNEP. Brundtland Report—“Our Common Future” (1987; http:// www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf) is the further development of the idea of sustainable development and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (United Nations Sustainable Development, 1992); all acknowl- Figure 1. Federal government development expenditure on edged the importance of education and, in particular, higher education from 1970 to 2009. education in progressing sustainability in our societies and Source. Ministry of Finance. around the world. In 1997, a Kyoto Protocol treaty was an ini- tiative to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases among devel- Therefore, Malaysia needs to ensure its continued efforts oping countries. In 2000, the United Nations launched the to invest in human capital to achieve a sustainable growth Millennium Development Goals with a focus on reducing pov- trend. So far, the government’s investment priority has erty and improving educational opportunities. Agenda 21 been placed on the education sector, particularly on the (Chapter 36) has recognized education, public awareness, and higher education sector, as proven by the spectacular training as integral parts in helping the successful implementa- increase in the number of HEIs that have mushroomed tion of sustainable development (United Nations, 1992). within the last 15 years. The 10th Malaysian Plan has allo- Education is essential for promoting sustainable development cated 40% of the total development expenditure (RM 92b) and potential for improving the capacity of the people to on human capital development programs, which is double address environment and development issues. Many public the Ninth Malaysian Plan allocation (21.8% in 9MP). universities in Malaysia have taken vital initiatives to transform Reflecting from the 1960s when Malaysia or Malaya, as it into an institution of higher learning with sustainability as their was known then, had only one university to boast of, the central agenda. According to Mader (2007, p. 23), “Universities University of Malaya (UM). Now, Malaysia has 20 public educate future decision makers and bridge the gap between universities, 41 private universities and university col- research and society. Universities also have the role of trans- leges, and 485 private colleges. mitting knowledge to societies.” As a matter of necessity, the Figure 1 indicates the government’s interest in expand- future graduates will require a clear understanding of sustain- ing HEIs and the corresponding level of investment in ability to successfully leading the nation. higher education from the year 1970 to 2009. It shows an Therefore, at first, this article reviews the socioeconomic increasing trend in these two individual statistics, indicat- trends of Malaysia that facilitate the concept of sustainable ing the importance of education in developing Malaysia. development initiatives in various sectors, particularly in the While this is compared with the feature of economic growth HEIs. Then, Agenda 21, the principal driving force of imple- in Malaysia (Figure 2), it reveals that there is a significant menting the notion of sustainability in different areas, has relation between the economic growth and government been discussed. Eventually, the existing programs and plan to expand HEIs to lead in the educational horizon of research activities of public and private HEIs in Malaysia the region. that are addressing sustainability in their academic activities These statistics reveal the direct correlation between the are covered in a logical way. It will then discuss the peda- level of investment in higher education and the astonishing gogical approaches of these programs and how they are economic growth experienced in Malaysia. Besides, this related to the fundamental concept of the ESD. Finally, some policy stand showed a significant positive correlation with conclusions and recommendations have been suggested to the increasing number of students in the HEIs (Figure 3). The improve the initiatives to develop a scientifically sound and trend of gradual increase in the number of students is very effective pedagogy for the ESD programs in the higher edu- consistent in the public HEIs than in the private HEIs. cation systems of Malaysia. However, there is a little correlation observed with the Teacher’s Training Institutes and Polytechnic Institutes. As mentioned earlier, in conjunction with the need to sustain Trends of Malaysia’s Socioeconomic economic progress in tandem with advancement in higher Development and the Scope for ESD education, it needs to focus on producing excellent academic Malaysia as a nation has experienced unprecedented eco- leaders who possess the right blend of knowledge, skills, and nomic growth over the last three decades. The booming attitude to drive the HEIs in the right direction for sustain- education sector also contributes to the national economy. able development practices. Reza 3 Housing and Local Government (MHLG) initiated the Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) Pilot Projects in four pilot sites. These projects also mobilized the local community to be involved in dealing with their problems, a bottom-up approach. The Prime Minister’s Department has launched initiatives to eradicate poverty and to bring awareness for sustainable development. Similarly, most of the city corporations also adopted LA 21 for the awareness on sustainable development among the com- munities as well as for the sustainable development activities of their cities (see LA 21 Malaysian website: http://www.dbkl. gov.my/la21kl/index.php?menu=2&pg=pengenalan/la21/ la21_malaysia; and also Putrajaya City Corporation website: http://www.ppj.gov.my/portal/page?_pageid=311,1&_ dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL#2048). Nevertheless, many international agencies like World Wide Fund for Nature’s Malaysian (WWF-Malaysia) office have taken initiatives to Figure 2. Economic growth of Malaysia from 2007 to 2012. Source. Department of Statistics Malaysia. promote sustainable development concept among the younger Note. Showing gross national income (GNI), gross domestic product generation through Eco-Schools program. (GDP), and growth rates at constant 2005 prices. Simultaneously, academic institutions have taken many initiatives to incorporate the themes of Agenda 21 within their academic syllabuses as well as campus-based activities. In particular, HEIs have introduced sustainable development issues into their curricula for teaching, learning, and research. Institutes and centers have been established in different uni- versities aiming to set the target to achieve sustainability. However, evaluation of the effectiveness of these teaching– learning programs, and their pedagogical approaches and endpoints has not been done adequately. Sustainability in Malaysian Higher Education Sustainability in Pedagogy Figure 3. Number of students in different higher education institutions. The academic programs offered by the HEIs of Malaysia Source. Department of Statistics Malaysia. were reviewed to see how these institutions are addressing Note. HEI = higher educational institution. different aspects of sustainability in their academic pro- grams. Table 1 documents the field of study and programs Agenda 21 in Implication for offered at various levels. It revealed that sustainability has Sustainability: Malaysian Perspectives been covered within science, social science, and engineering disciplines at the graduate and postgraduate levels. There are Malaysia has incorporated the principles of Agenda 21 as one some institutes and centers that have been offering the multi- of the important sustainable development documents in its disciplinary approach to teaching and learning of sustainabil- national planning process (Hassan, 1998; Ngah, Mustaffa, ity. Some of these are concentrated on research and relate Zakaria, Noordin, & Sawal, 2011). Malaysia’s recent 10 inno- research to the policy. While it is important to evaluate how vative initiatives for sustainable development within the con- students are learning from these approaches of sustainability text of Agenda 21 are noteworthy. From high-tech smart regarding knowledge development, it is also important to villages, smart cities, and sustainable condominium to green- know how these approaches are building their sense of ing higher education campuses are among the innovative responsibilities to implement those in their practical life and ideas. Malaysia has implemented it in the country’s develop- use for the social development. The role of an institution to ment planning and monitoring systems. In particular, the Malaysian 5-year plans (Malaysia Plan) accounted this that extent was not verified using an appropriate methodol- Agenda 21 with high priority for various sectors (Makmor, ogy. However, consultation with various academic experts Ismail, Hashim, & Nasir, 2012). It is observed that many gov- from different HEIs revealed that a comprehensive evalua- ernmental departments and agencies have been following this tion scheme is still lacking. While searched the key sustain- policy directive in implementation. For example, Ministry of able development issues, for example, climate change, 4 Table 1. Typical and Major Sustainability Programs Offered by Malaysian HEIs. University/college Faculty/institute/school/Kulliyyah Field of study Programs offered UKM Faculty of Science & Technology Environment & Natural •• Environmental Sciences & Natural Resources (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and Resources research) Faculty of Social Science & Environment •• Environmental Studies (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Humanities Faculty of Engineering & Built Environmental Engineering •• Environmental Engineering Environment •• Expert Systems for Solid Waste Management (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) LESTARI Environment and Development •• Multi-, Cross-Disciplinary and Policy Research (for postgraduate research) Institute for Climate Change Climate Change •• Postgraduate Research on Climate Change SEADPRI Disaster Research •• Postgraduate Research, Training on Climatic, Geological and Technological Hazards (multidisciplinary) Research Centre for Tropical Climate Change Science •• Postgraduate Research on Climate Change Science (for postgraduate taught courses and research) Climate Change System UM Faculty of Arts and Social Environment and Geography •• Environment and Geography (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Sciences Faculty of Science Biodiversity and Environment •• Ecology and Biodiversity •• Sciences and Environment Management •• Sciences and Technology Studies •• Sustainability Science (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) USM School of Housing, Building & Environment and Disaster •• Environmental Sciences & Technology Planning Management •• Environmental Management •• Environment (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) •• Disaster Management (PhD program) CGSS Sustainability Research •• Sustainability Studies (postgraduate research) UPM Faculty of Environmental Studies Biodiversity and Environment •• Environmental Science & Technology •• Environmental Management (graduate program) •• Environmental Studies •• Biodiversity and Conservation of Natural Resources (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) UMS Natural Disaster Research Unit Disaster Management •• Natural Disaster (postgraduate research) UPNM Faculty of Medicine and Defence Disaster Management •• NBC Environmental Impact and Protection (postgraduate research) Health UNISEL Faculty of Science & Biodiversity and Conservation •• Biodiversity and Conservation Biotechnology •• Biotechnology (postgraduate research) IIUM Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environment •• Architecture and Environmental Design (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Environment Design KLIU Faculty of Architecture & Built Environment •• Architectural Studies Environment •• Built Environment (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) SEGI College Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment •• Environment Technology Environment •• Environmental Sciences by Research (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Taylor’s University School of Architecture, Building Environment •• Foundation in Natural and Built Environments (graduate course) & Design UTAR Faculty of Engineering & Green Sustainability •• Environmental Engineering Technology •• Environmental Science (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Note. HEI = higher educational institutions; UKM = Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; LESTARI = Institute for Environment and Development; SEADPRI = Southeast Asia Disaster Prevention Research Initiative; UM = University of Malaya; USM = Universiti Sains Malaysia; CGSS = Centre for Global Sustainability Studies; UPM = Universiti Putra Malaysia; UMS = Universiti Malaysia Sabah; UPNM = National Defence University Malaysia; NBC= Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical; UNISEL = University of Selangor; IIUM = International Islamic University of Malaysia; KLIU = Kuala Lumpur Infrastructure University; UTAR = Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman. Reza 5 disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and programs to increase awareness among teachers and learn- sustainable consumption, are being addressed in the curricu- ers, to revise the existing curriculum and provide more scien- lum, a significant knowledge gap was observed among the tific pedagogy which addresses sustainability, and increases various programs offered by these institutions. funding for more in-depth research and also to modernize the research facilities. Strengths and weaknesses of sustainable higher educa- Sustainability in Academic Research tional (SHE) assessment approaches were studied by In Malaysia, recently many research projects of HEIs have Saadatian, Dola, Salleh, and Tahir (2011). SHE is a tool or aimed to identify the potential barriers and probabilities for framework which assesses the level of sustainability in HEIs. applying sustainable approaches to various sectors. Green The method used is archival research technique, content Technology is one of them which incorporates the develop- analysis, and interview. The study has identified 18 popular ment and application of products, equipment, and systems SHE assessment approaches, out of which Campus used to conserve the natural environment and resources, Sustainability Assessment Framework (CSAF) was found to which minimizes and reduces the negative impact of human have more strength in comparison with other SHE assess- activities (http://www.kettha.gov.my). Lay, Ahmad, and ment approaches. Ming (2013) also reported about high-technology adoption cost, lack of environment knowledge, lack of green aware- Evaluation of Effectiveness of ESD ness, lack of trust, adoption cynicism, institution adoption rate, and switching as the concerning issues for Green The different aspects of sustainability may cover with vari- Technology. This study used a secondary source of reading ous programs, but a student very often failed to relate those previous studies to identify barriers existing in applying the from their individual sets of modules of the program, this is Green Technology. because the relationship of these aspects is not included in However, sustainable development required economic their detail syllabus. As a result, for example, green-econ- growth in line with poverty alleviation, social welfare, and omy students can rarely identify the importance of ecosys- environmental conservation (Siwar, 2004). A human econ- tem approach in sustainable development. However, a omy should consider the availability of the resources for student of Ecology and Natural Resources Management future generation, and participation of communities must experiences difficulties in relating his or her knowledge with be ensured for adapting them with local action. In that con- sustainable infrastructural development or to the sustainable text, a considerable number of research projects have been city planning practices of a region. The situation is similar done on the socioeconomic aspects of sustainable develop- for a student of a mono-disciplinary or a multidisciplinary ment. While it is also reported that education for sustain- institution as well. ability helps in better understanding of the environment, Also, research outcomes of a field-based pedagogical raising awareness on the importance of environment, con- approach (Reza, Choy, & Pereira, 2013) revealed that it is structing ethical society, enhancing the students’ good char- important to have a case or field-based learning approach acteristics, and produce a balanced human being (Azizan, which may help students understand sustainability in a broad 2009). Hence, HEIs play a leading role in achieving sus- and efficient way. This study summarizes that a more field- tainable development. based practical pedagogical approach is crucial for graduate In the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), research students who are more mature and at the final stage to take has been conducted using three models: Knowledge, Attitude, the responsibility of social services. Therefore, academia and Practice (KAP) tool on a sample of 191 students and 45 should take this vital issue into account while they design a staff. Data were collected using validated questionnaires and curriculum for their graduate students. It is not enough to evaluated by descriptive analysis. Findings indicated that incorporate some modules such as field-based practical knowledge about sustainability among student and staff is activities, and it is much important to provide adequate different, while both staff and student showed a similar posi- financial and structural support to make the program more tive attitude about the idea of adopting a sustainable lifestyle, effective. and practice for a friendly environment (Nur‘ashiqin et al., The mission and vision of 13 public and private HEIs of 2011). Malaysia, which are known as good academic institutions, Shari and Jaafar (2006) experimented the level of integra- were also studied (Table 2). It is revealed from the table that tion and implementation on sustainability issues in the aca- the institutions show some of the great ambitious visions, demic curriculum of the schools of Architecture in Malaysian and they do not differ much among these establishments. HEIs. The study used questionnaires to collect data from the However, questions arise how these organizations are achiev- students who were selected randomly from public universi- ing these goals gradually. Thus, it can be recommended for ties and private HEIs. The questionnaire was divided into further evaluation in this regard from the institutional as well quantitative and qualitative parts. SPSS software used as a as the student’s point of view. However, principally, it was tool to analyzing data. This study suggests organizing more tried to identify how these institutes are offering the courses. 6 Table 2. Mission and Visions of Different Institutes, Centers and Faculties of the HEIs of Malaysia With the Proportion of Representation in Covering Sustainability Courses. Institute/ center Types of programs Vision Mission Prop % UKM Taught courses and research •• To make Malaysia as an international reference •• Balancing trade-offs between environment and development. 65 in graduate and postgraduate center •• Linking policy and building capacity to meet the aspirations of level •• To be a center of excellence in research and sustainable development training in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific •• Enhance human capital and capacity at national and regional levels •• Generating innovative research and knowledge •• Support knowledge-based decision making for sustainable sharing development UM Taught courses and research •• To conduct basic and applied research for better •• Facilitate and coordinate Malaysian scientific efforts to global 65 in graduate and postgraduate understanding sciences level •• To maximize the effectiveness of academic •• To promote multidisciplinary and cross-institutional research, and programs to influence policies and decisions •• Integrating research results with sustainable •• Promote and maintain Malaysia’s presence as a significant player in development Antarctic research •• To influence public attitudes and promote community involvement in sustainability UMS Taught courses and research •• To conduct world-class research •• To be a research and reference center in sustainability science in graduate and postgraduate •• Integrating research and policies for sustainable •• To provide well-trained and skilled manpower in the field level development •• Market-driven educational programs and strategic research UniMAP Taught courses and research •• An Internationally Competitive Academic and •• To produce human capital to serve the nation’s development and 20 in graduate and postgraduate Research Institution industrial competitiveness agenda level UNIMAS Taught courses and research •• To become a leading academia in knowledge •• To promote and conduct fundamental and applied research 30 in graduate and postgraduate development and research in SEA region •• To develop understanding of the ecological principles which level support conservation and sustainable use of natural resources UTM Taught courses and research •• To be a leading academic institution in •• To stimulate, encourage, and enhance research programs in 40 in graduate and postgraduate environmental-related academic activities environmental-related areas level •• To establish collaboration among academics in various disciplines and agencies •• To provide advisory and consultancy services to public and private agencies on environmental issues UiTM Taught courses and research •• To be an internationally reputed academic •• Committed to promoting continuous professional education 30 in graduate and postgraduate institution, committed to pursuing excellence, in and research in the technology-driven built environment and to level professional learning, research, and sustainable further enhance the Bumiputera’s competitiveness in the global development market UMP Taught courses and research •• To be a world-class center in management for •• Provide high-quality services and research in earth resources for 25 in graduate and postgraduate engineering and technology of earth resources sustainable development level USM Taught courses and research •• To establish a renowned sustainability-led •• To contribute, through education for sustainable development, 70 in graduate and postgraduate university based on the fusion of the sciences scientific assessment, policy research, and capacity building, to level and humanities in our striving for global efforts to resolve pressing problem confronting our Malaysian sustainability and poverty alleviation society and the global community today and the future •• To adopt a holistic research and develop various •• To accelerate the realization of urban drainage metamorphosis to new technologies in sustainability issues transform the quality of life in urban areas •• To establish a platform for scientists and social scientist from Malaysia and South East Asia region •• To promote research network and international cooperation (continued) 7 Table 2. (continued) Institute/ center Types of programs Vision Mission Prop % UNITEN Taught courses and research •• To become center of excellence of research •• Providing and promoting research on sustainable development 40 in graduate and postgraduate on environmental aspects at local, regional, and •• Develop strong networking with internationally reputed centers level global scales and organizations •• To be recognized nationally and internationally •• Advancing engineering knowledge through research and design for excellence and leadership in application of in sustainable/Green Technology and ecosystem management for Sustainable/Green Technology to conserve the conservation of environment natural environment and resource •• To conduct independent research and contribute toward •• To be the premier energy policy research capacity building in energy and environment issues relevant to institute in Malaysia and the Asia-Pacific Region the country’s socioeconomic goal which will benefit the public, government, regulators, industry, and academia UTAR Taught courses and research •• The establishment of a leading center of •• To promote multidisciplinary research, product development, 20 in graduate and postgraduate excellence for research, development, and and training of personnel in priority areas to drive local industries level commercialization of natural resources toward sustainable utilization of natural resources •• To be a center of excellence in leading-edge •• To establish a focal point for research and development in various basic and applied research for environmental aspects of environment and Green Technology, to develop engineering and Green Technology niche green technologies meeting national and regional needs, and to provide education and training opportunities in Green Technology for students, public, industries, and local professionals MMU Sustainable system management •• To produce graduates with skills in business and •• To establish a focal point for relating business and engineering 10 (postgraduate level) engineering management to become the change sector devoted to support sustainable development through agents in technology and sustainable energy innovative research and development industries •• To develop business leaders who are innovative and able to spearhead the advancement of technology-based industry in the country UPM Taught courses and research •• To be an excellent international research center •• To develop high impact and competitive research to generate 50 in graduate and postgraduate for sustainability studies new knowledge and human capitals for achievement of level •• To be a leading research center for the sustainability advancement of sustainable agriculture •• To provide and stimulate economic growth through •• Become a world-class research institute in the interdisciplinary, cutting edge and knowledge-intensive research field of nanotechnology and advanced materials activities •• Contribute significantly toward sustainable development and conserving natural resources Note. HEI = higher educational institutions; UKM = Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; UM = University of Malaya; UMS = Universiti Malaysia Sabah; UniMAP = Universiti Malaysia Perlis; UNIMAS = Universiti Malaysia Sarawak; SEA = Southeast Asia; UTM = Universiti Teknologi Malaysia; UiTM = Universiti Teknologi Mara; UMP = Universiti Malaysia Pahang; USM = Universiti Sains Malaysia; UNITEN = Universiti Tenaga Nasional; UTAR = Universiti Tun Abdul Razak; MMU = Multi-Media University; UPM = Universiti Putra Malaysia. 8 SAGE Open It is observed that the strategy taken by the Ministry of organized and managed by the Institute for Environment and Higher Education (MoHE; 2007, 2010), Malaysia, has a sig- Development (LESTARI), which has been established for nificant impact on these organizations. However, the degree promoting sustainability in the academia as well as to link of representation of the sustainability disciplines were found with the practitioners and the policy makers. The meaning of to be varied largely among different institutions offering LESTARI is sustainability, which is a product of Agenda 21 those into their academic courses. The further in-depth study and the Malaysia’s global agreement of initiatives for sus- may define the impact of these courses, while the number of tainability. In practice, these programs may provide strong students and the ratios will be obtained from the continuous messages to all related with the institution. Although these monitoring and time-series data. are not a usual pedagogical approach, it has an immense Minghat and Yasin (2010) investigated sustainability in HEIs impact on society; this is also an important objective of sus- system emphasizing on Technical and Vocational Education in tainability in pedagogy. However, students who do not have Malaysia. The qualitative research method is used in this study a sustainability course in their graduate or postgraduate study interviewing 12 respondents according to their position. Findings may also be aware of the approach and understand the impor- showed that 16 elements contribute to sustainable development. tance of a green and sustainable environment having integ- These elements are creativity, innovation, networking and part- rity, beauty, and safety. nerships, staff development programs, methods of teaching, generic skills, industrial relations and training, counseling, entre- Concluding Remarks preneurship, information and communications technology (ICT) It revealed that considerable efforts had been put forth by the skills, benefits, recognition, knowledge, competency-based governmental initiatives to include sustainable development training, articulation, and management commitment. agendas in higher education system in Malaysia. As a result, a Education for sustainability is a process of developing con- satisfactory proportion of academic courses have been devoted cerns, abilities, attitudes, and values toward the next leadership to sustainability studies. However, many aspects of sustainability of society. This process ensures their participation in sustain- are yet to be included in the educational systems; that is, curricu- able development activities more effectively in the local, lum, pedagogy, extracurricular and campus-based activities. national, and international levels and helps them to work Implying, that the domains of sustainability—environment, toward a more sustainable future (Lea, Stephenson, & Troy, economy, and society, are interrelated and thus they all have to be 2003). University students do not only get knowledge in their weighted by a significant proportion in various initiatives. At the particular area but also gain more than the academic degrees. same time, a scientific evaluation scheme should apply to evalu- Higher institutions of a region are responsible to their society, ate the outcomes of these approaches to the students, and this is and leaders of these academies should relate various aspects particularly lacking in Malaysian education system. and issues of sustainability in their research niche through Development of a suitable and effective pedagogy for opera- innovation, technology transfer, engaging with the community, tive teaching–learning is necessary. Therefore, it is important to and interact with mass people. Hence, it is important for the evaluate the effectiveness of existing curriculum and modules, education system to be harmonized with sustainable develop- and changes in restructuring or improving the curriculum based ment aspects effectively in HEIs (Zain et al., 2009). on in-depth research must be taken into account from time to time. Besides, an all-inclusive center or faculty for learning and Sustainability in Practice (Other Than the Formal research of all domains of sustainability, including climate Curricula) change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, renewable energy, Green Campus Initiative is one of the initiatives that is in fact sustainable business, Green Technology, poverty reduction, and a better approach to make the future generation aware of sus- sustainable consumption, is needed. Presently, no institute or tainability. Owens and Halfacre-Hitchcock (2006) reported center exists having all these domains under the same umbrella. that several researchers acknowledged the positive role of Although many aspects have been addressed separately across HEIs in promoting sustainability through such program. In the HEIs, the integration and coordination of the outcomes are Malaysia, several universities such as UKM, UM, Universiti not sufficiently done. Therefore, the outputs of many research Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia projects have remained in dark and failed to contribute to the (UTM), and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) have a similar society. As a result, the effort of sustainability remains far away program. In UKM, a forum of “Sustainable Campus” (gener- from the adequate achievements. A national platform designated ally known as Kampus Lestari, in the Malay language) works for integrating various institutions devoted to achieving sustain- on building awareness and promoting a culture to leave ability goals may be helpful. Furthermore, a more in-depth study through sustainability and green livelihood. The USM and is required to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs, identi- UTM also have similar programs. UKM’s another program fying gaps in the pedagogy and developing effective curriculum on a sustainable river flow “Flow or Knowledge” (known as for sustainability knowledge development and relating them to Alor Ilmu, in the Malay language) also incorporated various the society. In addition to that, all parties need to overcome the stakeholders to become aware of ecology and sustainability. limitations of working on the same platform to establish a sus- Both these “Kampus Lestari” and “Alor Ilmu” have been tainable society at the national to the regional scales. Reza 9 Declaration of Conflicting Interests Ngah, K., Mustaffa, J., Zakaria, Z., Noordin, N., & Sawal, M. (2011). Formulation of Agenda 21 process indicators for The author declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to Malaysia. Journal of Management and Sustainability, 1, 82-89. the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Nur‘ashiqin, W., Choy, E. A., Ali, N., Lyndon, N., Saadiah, H., & Buang, A. (2011). Diagnosing knowledge: Attitudes, and prac- Funding tice for a sustainable campus. World Applied Sciences Journal, The author disclosed receipt of the following financial support for 13, 93-98. the research and/or authorship of this article: The author express Owens, K. A., & Halfacre-Hitchcock, A. (2006). As green as we his gratitude to the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for the finan- think? The case of the College of Charleston green building cial support through the University Research Grant DLP-2014-015 initiative. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher provided to this study. Education, 7, 114-128. Reza, M. I. H., Choy, E. A., & Pereira, J. J. (2013, April 19-20). A References field based pedagogical approach is needed for understand- ing sustainability: The context of disaster risk reduction in Azizan, S. A. (2009). Environmental education in Malaysian Malaysia. 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International Journal on Hassan, M. N. (1998, August 20). Indicators for sustainable devel- Sustainable Tropical Design Research and Practice, 1, 57-64. opment: The Malaysian perspective. Proceedings of Regional Siwar, C. (2004). Sustainable development: Win-win strategy for Dialogue on Geo-Indicators for Sustainable Development, poverty eradication and environmental conservation. Bangi, Bangi, Malaysia. Malaysia: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Press. (In Malay) Lay, G. C., Ahmad, R., & Ming, B. H. (2013). The barriers to Tilbury, D. (2011). Education for sustainable development: adoption of green technology by higher education institu- An expert review of processes and learning. Paris, France: tions in Malaysia. Malaysian Online Journal of Educational UNESCO. Management, 1, 23-34. United Nations. (1992). The Rio declaration on environment and Lea, S. J., Stephenson, D., & Troy, J. (2003). Higher education development. Geneva, Switzerland: Centre for Our Common students’ attitudes to student-centred learning: Beyond “edu- Future. cational bulimia”? Studies in Higher Education, 28, 321-334. United Nations Environment Programme. (1972). Declaration of Lotz-Sisitka, H. (2011). The “event” of modern sustainable devel- the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. opment and universities in Africa. In Higher education in the Retrieved from http://www.unep.org/documents.multilingual/ World 4, Higher education’s commitment to sustainability: default.asp?documentid=97&articleid=1503 From understanding to action (pp. 41-57). Barcelona, Spain: United Nations Sustainable Development. (1992, June 3-14). Global University Network for Innovation. United Nations Conference on Environment & Development, Lozano, R. (2006). Incorporation and institutionalization of SD into Rio de Janerio, Brazil (Agenda 21). Retrieved from http:// universities: Breaking through barriers to change. Journal of sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/ Cleaner Production, 14, 787-796. Agenda21.pdf Mader, C. M. (2007). Integration of sustainability into univer- Zain, S. M., Badaruzzaman, W. H. W., Elfithri, R., Basri, N. E. sities—Good practices and benchmarking for integration. A., Khatimin, N., Zaharim, A., & Suja, F. (2009, December Norderstedt, Germany: Books on Demand. 13-15). The study of environmental education and the need Makmor, M., Ismail, Z., Hashim, R., & Nasir, N. M. (2012). for sustainable development in teaching and learning pro- Malaysia under the purview of the United Nations and Agenda cesses in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment. 21. International Journal of Social, Behavioral, Educational, Presented in Seminar at the Congress of Engineering Education Economic, Business and Industrial Engineering, 6, 3700-3704. for Teaching and Learning, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Minghat, A. D., & Yasin, R. M. (2010, November 10-11). A frame- Langkawi. (In Malay) work of sustainable development for technical and vocational education in Malaysia. Proceedings of the 1st UPI International Author Biography Conference on Technical and Vocational Education and Training Bandung, Indonesia. Mohammad Imam Hasan Reza is a senior lecturer and fellow at Ministry of Higher Education. (2007, August 27). The National Higher the Institute for Environment and Development (LESTARI), Education Action Plan 2007-2010. Triggering higher education Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. His research encompasses the transformation. Putrajaya, Malaysia: Ministry of Higher Education. area of sustainability, environmental management, natural resources Ministry of Higher Education. (2010). Shaping minds building management, socioeconomic aspects of biodiversity conservation, geographical information system (GIS) use for sustainable land- leadership 2010 programmes. Putrajaya: Higher Education scape planning, and decision support system. Leadership Academy (AKEPT), Ministry of Higher Education. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png SAGE Open SAGE

Sustainability in Higher Education: Perspectives of Malaysian Higher Education System

SAGE Open , Volume 6 (3): 1 – Aug 26, 2016

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Abstract

Sustainability describes how a system remains diverse and productive; this is the potential for long-term maintenance of well-being having ecological, economic, political, and cultural dimensions. Education for sustainable development (ESD) emphasizes on including the key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning, that is, climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption. This effort requires effective pedagogy to ensure a participatory teaching and learning method that will motivate and empower future leaders to ensure sustainability in their social systems. Malaysia has incorporated the principles of Agenda 21 as one of the important sustainable development documents into its national planning process. However, the effectiveness of these teaching–learning programs, and their effective pedagogical approaches and endpoints are not satisfactorily ensured. Therefore, at first, this article reviews the existing various programs and research activities of public and private higher educational institutions in Malaysia that address sustainability. It then discusses the pedagogical approaches of these programs and how they are related to the key concept of the ESD. Finally, some conclusions and recommendations have been suggested to improve the initiatives to develop a scientifically sound and effective pedagogy for the ESD programs in higher education systems in Malaysia. Keywords education for sustainable development (ESD), pedagogy, higher education system, disaster risk reduction, sustainable consumption sustainability (Tilbury, 2011). Higher educational institu- Introduction tions (HEIs) are leading social and cultural changes from the Education for sustainable development (ESD) or sustainabil- forefront through research-based findings and also through ity education (SE) suggests for a scientific and balanced cur- the education of intellectuals, leaders, and future makers riculum that will encompass sustainability in the academic (Lozano, 2006). This is also argued that higher education can courses and research. However, they are very poorly under- change the world through training and expand young minds, stood and implemented, and little attention has been paid for researching answers to challenges and supporting public a holistic effort to build a generation having awareness and policies. HEIs also can showcase an example to the society willingness to work for sustainable development. The educa- through its understanding and commitment through careful tion perspective brings significance to the individual’s learn- campus management. Eventually, they have been taking the ing, such as the pedagogy, and the emancipation. These responsibilities to providing capable employer and active perspectives of sustainable development combine the aspects member of the business and local communities (Galang, of policy and management of processes in institutions and 2010; Lotz-Sisitka, 2011). communities. Therefore, there appears to be a consensus that In the early 1970s, Stockholm Conference on the Human ESD as a force, phenomenon, or tool within the contempo- Environment (United Nations Environment Programme rary education includes issues of ethics, equity, and new ways of thinking and learning. In the educational system, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia formal and nonformal means of pedagogy have to be reck- Corresponding Author: oned with, and they all add values. Mohammad Imam Hasan Reza, Southeast Asia Disaster Prevention In recent time, sustainability challenges the current para- Research Initiative (SEADPRI), Institute for Environment and digms, structures as well as effective practices in higher edu- Development (LESTARI), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, cation. Universities and higher education institutions are Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. facing this reality as they need a meaningful contribution to Email: reza@ukm.edu.my Creative Commons CC-BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage). 2 SAGE Open [UNEP], 1972) was the first initiative to identify the role of higher education in progressing sustainable development at the international level formally, followed by the Belgrade Charter (1976) and the Tbilisi Declaration (1977; http://www.gdrc.org/ uem/ee/tbilisi.html). These are the outcomes of the world’s first Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education organized by UNESCO in cooperation with the UNEP. Brundtland Report—“Our Common Future” (1987; http:// www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf) is the further development of the idea of sustainable development and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (United Nations Sustainable Development, 1992); all acknowl- Figure 1. Federal government development expenditure on edged the importance of education and, in particular, higher education from 1970 to 2009. education in progressing sustainability in our societies and Source. Ministry of Finance. around the world. In 1997, a Kyoto Protocol treaty was an ini- tiative to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases among devel- Therefore, Malaysia needs to ensure its continued efforts oping countries. In 2000, the United Nations launched the to invest in human capital to achieve a sustainable growth Millennium Development Goals with a focus on reducing pov- trend. So far, the government’s investment priority has erty and improving educational opportunities. Agenda 21 been placed on the education sector, particularly on the (Chapter 36) has recognized education, public awareness, and higher education sector, as proven by the spectacular training as integral parts in helping the successful implementa- increase in the number of HEIs that have mushroomed tion of sustainable development (United Nations, 1992). within the last 15 years. The 10th Malaysian Plan has allo- Education is essential for promoting sustainable development cated 40% of the total development expenditure (RM 92b) and potential for improving the capacity of the people to on human capital development programs, which is double address environment and development issues. Many public the Ninth Malaysian Plan allocation (21.8% in 9MP). universities in Malaysia have taken vital initiatives to transform Reflecting from the 1960s when Malaysia or Malaya, as it into an institution of higher learning with sustainability as their was known then, had only one university to boast of, the central agenda. According to Mader (2007, p. 23), “Universities University of Malaya (UM). Now, Malaysia has 20 public educate future decision makers and bridge the gap between universities, 41 private universities and university col- research and society. Universities also have the role of trans- leges, and 485 private colleges. mitting knowledge to societies.” As a matter of necessity, the Figure 1 indicates the government’s interest in expand- future graduates will require a clear understanding of sustain- ing HEIs and the corresponding level of investment in ability to successfully leading the nation. higher education from the year 1970 to 2009. It shows an Therefore, at first, this article reviews the socioeconomic increasing trend in these two individual statistics, indicat- trends of Malaysia that facilitate the concept of sustainable ing the importance of education in developing Malaysia. development initiatives in various sectors, particularly in the While this is compared with the feature of economic growth HEIs. Then, Agenda 21, the principal driving force of imple- in Malaysia (Figure 2), it reveals that there is a significant menting the notion of sustainability in different areas, has relation between the economic growth and government been discussed. Eventually, the existing programs and plan to expand HEIs to lead in the educational horizon of research activities of public and private HEIs in Malaysia the region. that are addressing sustainability in their academic activities These statistics reveal the direct correlation between the are covered in a logical way. It will then discuss the peda- level of investment in higher education and the astonishing gogical approaches of these programs and how they are economic growth experienced in Malaysia. Besides, this related to the fundamental concept of the ESD. Finally, some policy stand showed a significant positive correlation with conclusions and recommendations have been suggested to the increasing number of students in the HEIs (Figure 3). The improve the initiatives to develop a scientifically sound and trend of gradual increase in the number of students is very effective pedagogy for the ESD programs in the higher edu- consistent in the public HEIs than in the private HEIs. cation systems of Malaysia. However, there is a little correlation observed with the Teacher’s Training Institutes and Polytechnic Institutes. As mentioned earlier, in conjunction with the need to sustain Trends of Malaysia’s Socioeconomic economic progress in tandem with advancement in higher Development and the Scope for ESD education, it needs to focus on producing excellent academic Malaysia as a nation has experienced unprecedented eco- leaders who possess the right blend of knowledge, skills, and nomic growth over the last three decades. The booming attitude to drive the HEIs in the right direction for sustain- education sector also contributes to the national economy. able development practices. Reza 3 Housing and Local Government (MHLG) initiated the Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) Pilot Projects in four pilot sites. These projects also mobilized the local community to be involved in dealing with their problems, a bottom-up approach. The Prime Minister’s Department has launched initiatives to eradicate poverty and to bring awareness for sustainable development. Similarly, most of the city corporations also adopted LA 21 for the awareness on sustainable development among the com- munities as well as for the sustainable development activities of their cities (see LA 21 Malaysian website: http://www.dbkl. gov.my/la21kl/index.php?menu=2&pg=pengenalan/la21/ la21_malaysia; and also Putrajaya City Corporation website: http://www.ppj.gov.my/portal/page?_pageid=311,1&_ dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL#2048). Nevertheless, many international agencies like World Wide Fund for Nature’s Malaysian (WWF-Malaysia) office have taken initiatives to Figure 2. Economic growth of Malaysia from 2007 to 2012. Source. Department of Statistics Malaysia. promote sustainable development concept among the younger Note. Showing gross national income (GNI), gross domestic product generation through Eco-Schools program. (GDP), and growth rates at constant 2005 prices. Simultaneously, academic institutions have taken many initiatives to incorporate the themes of Agenda 21 within their academic syllabuses as well as campus-based activities. In particular, HEIs have introduced sustainable development issues into their curricula for teaching, learning, and research. Institutes and centers have been established in different uni- versities aiming to set the target to achieve sustainability. However, evaluation of the effectiveness of these teaching– learning programs, and their pedagogical approaches and endpoints has not been done adequately. Sustainability in Malaysian Higher Education Sustainability in Pedagogy Figure 3. Number of students in different higher education institutions. The academic programs offered by the HEIs of Malaysia Source. Department of Statistics Malaysia. were reviewed to see how these institutions are addressing Note. HEI = higher educational institution. different aspects of sustainability in their academic pro- grams. Table 1 documents the field of study and programs Agenda 21 in Implication for offered at various levels. It revealed that sustainability has Sustainability: Malaysian Perspectives been covered within science, social science, and engineering disciplines at the graduate and postgraduate levels. There are Malaysia has incorporated the principles of Agenda 21 as one some institutes and centers that have been offering the multi- of the important sustainable development documents in its disciplinary approach to teaching and learning of sustainabil- national planning process (Hassan, 1998; Ngah, Mustaffa, ity. Some of these are concentrated on research and relate Zakaria, Noordin, & Sawal, 2011). Malaysia’s recent 10 inno- research to the policy. While it is important to evaluate how vative initiatives for sustainable development within the con- students are learning from these approaches of sustainability text of Agenda 21 are noteworthy. From high-tech smart regarding knowledge development, it is also important to villages, smart cities, and sustainable condominium to green- know how these approaches are building their sense of ing higher education campuses are among the innovative responsibilities to implement those in their practical life and ideas. Malaysia has implemented it in the country’s develop- use for the social development. The role of an institution to ment planning and monitoring systems. In particular, the Malaysian 5-year plans (Malaysia Plan) accounted this that extent was not verified using an appropriate methodol- Agenda 21 with high priority for various sectors (Makmor, ogy. However, consultation with various academic experts Ismail, Hashim, & Nasir, 2012). It is observed that many gov- from different HEIs revealed that a comprehensive evalua- ernmental departments and agencies have been following this tion scheme is still lacking. While searched the key sustain- policy directive in implementation. For example, Ministry of able development issues, for example, climate change, 4 Table 1. Typical and Major Sustainability Programs Offered by Malaysian HEIs. University/college Faculty/institute/school/Kulliyyah Field of study Programs offered UKM Faculty of Science & Technology Environment & Natural •• Environmental Sciences & Natural Resources (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and Resources research) Faculty of Social Science & Environment •• Environmental Studies (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Humanities Faculty of Engineering & Built Environmental Engineering •• Environmental Engineering Environment •• Expert Systems for Solid Waste Management (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) LESTARI Environment and Development •• Multi-, Cross-Disciplinary and Policy Research (for postgraduate research) Institute for Climate Change Climate Change •• Postgraduate Research on Climate Change SEADPRI Disaster Research •• Postgraduate Research, Training on Climatic, Geological and Technological Hazards (multidisciplinary) Research Centre for Tropical Climate Change Science •• Postgraduate Research on Climate Change Science (for postgraduate taught courses and research) Climate Change System UM Faculty of Arts and Social Environment and Geography •• Environment and Geography (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Sciences Faculty of Science Biodiversity and Environment •• Ecology and Biodiversity •• Sciences and Environment Management •• Sciences and Technology Studies •• Sustainability Science (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) USM School of Housing, Building & Environment and Disaster •• Environmental Sciences & Technology Planning Management •• Environmental Management •• Environment (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) •• Disaster Management (PhD program) CGSS Sustainability Research •• Sustainability Studies (postgraduate research) UPM Faculty of Environmental Studies Biodiversity and Environment •• Environmental Science & Technology •• Environmental Management (graduate program) •• Environmental Studies •• Biodiversity and Conservation of Natural Resources (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) UMS Natural Disaster Research Unit Disaster Management •• Natural Disaster (postgraduate research) UPNM Faculty of Medicine and Defence Disaster Management •• NBC Environmental Impact and Protection (postgraduate research) Health UNISEL Faculty of Science & Biodiversity and Conservation •• Biodiversity and Conservation Biotechnology •• Biotechnology (postgraduate research) IIUM Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environment •• Architecture and Environmental Design (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Environment Design KLIU Faculty of Architecture & Built Environment •• Architectural Studies Environment •• Built Environment (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) SEGI College Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment •• Environment Technology Environment •• Environmental Sciences by Research (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Taylor’s University School of Architecture, Building Environment •• Foundation in Natural and Built Environments (graduate course) & Design UTAR Faculty of Engineering & Green Sustainability •• Environmental Engineering Technology •• Environmental Science (for graduate and postgraduate taught courses and research) Note. HEI = higher educational institutions; UKM = Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; LESTARI = Institute for Environment and Development; SEADPRI = Southeast Asia Disaster Prevention Research Initiative; UM = University of Malaya; USM = Universiti Sains Malaysia; CGSS = Centre for Global Sustainability Studies; UPM = Universiti Putra Malaysia; UMS = Universiti Malaysia Sabah; UPNM = National Defence University Malaysia; NBC= Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical; UNISEL = University of Selangor; IIUM = International Islamic University of Malaysia; KLIU = Kuala Lumpur Infrastructure University; UTAR = Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman. Reza 5 disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and programs to increase awareness among teachers and learn- sustainable consumption, are being addressed in the curricu- ers, to revise the existing curriculum and provide more scien- lum, a significant knowledge gap was observed among the tific pedagogy which addresses sustainability, and increases various programs offered by these institutions. funding for more in-depth research and also to modernize the research facilities. Strengths and weaknesses of sustainable higher educa- Sustainability in Academic Research tional (SHE) assessment approaches were studied by In Malaysia, recently many research projects of HEIs have Saadatian, Dola, Salleh, and Tahir (2011). SHE is a tool or aimed to identify the potential barriers and probabilities for framework which assesses the level of sustainability in HEIs. applying sustainable approaches to various sectors. Green The method used is archival research technique, content Technology is one of them which incorporates the develop- analysis, and interview. The study has identified 18 popular ment and application of products, equipment, and systems SHE assessment approaches, out of which Campus used to conserve the natural environment and resources, Sustainability Assessment Framework (CSAF) was found to which minimizes and reduces the negative impact of human have more strength in comparison with other SHE assess- activities (http://www.kettha.gov.my). Lay, Ahmad, and ment approaches. Ming (2013) also reported about high-technology adoption cost, lack of environment knowledge, lack of green aware- Evaluation of Effectiveness of ESD ness, lack of trust, adoption cynicism, institution adoption rate, and switching as the concerning issues for Green The different aspects of sustainability may cover with vari- Technology. This study used a secondary source of reading ous programs, but a student very often failed to relate those previous studies to identify barriers existing in applying the from their individual sets of modules of the program, this is Green Technology. because the relationship of these aspects is not included in However, sustainable development required economic their detail syllabus. As a result, for example, green-econ- growth in line with poverty alleviation, social welfare, and omy students can rarely identify the importance of ecosys- environmental conservation (Siwar, 2004). A human econ- tem approach in sustainable development. However, a omy should consider the availability of the resources for student of Ecology and Natural Resources Management future generation, and participation of communities must experiences difficulties in relating his or her knowledge with be ensured for adapting them with local action. In that con- sustainable infrastructural development or to the sustainable text, a considerable number of research projects have been city planning practices of a region. The situation is similar done on the socioeconomic aspects of sustainable develop- for a student of a mono-disciplinary or a multidisciplinary ment. While it is also reported that education for sustain- institution as well. ability helps in better understanding of the environment, Also, research outcomes of a field-based pedagogical raising awareness on the importance of environment, con- approach (Reza, Choy, & Pereira, 2013) revealed that it is structing ethical society, enhancing the students’ good char- important to have a case or field-based learning approach acteristics, and produce a balanced human being (Azizan, which may help students understand sustainability in a broad 2009). Hence, HEIs play a leading role in achieving sus- and efficient way. This study summarizes that a more field- tainable development. based practical pedagogical approach is crucial for graduate In the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), research students who are more mature and at the final stage to take has been conducted using three models: Knowledge, Attitude, the responsibility of social services. Therefore, academia and Practice (KAP) tool on a sample of 191 students and 45 should take this vital issue into account while they design a staff. Data were collected using validated questionnaires and curriculum for their graduate students. It is not enough to evaluated by descriptive analysis. Findings indicated that incorporate some modules such as field-based practical knowledge about sustainability among student and staff is activities, and it is much important to provide adequate different, while both staff and student showed a similar posi- financial and structural support to make the program more tive attitude about the idea of adopting a sustainable lifestyle, effective. and practice for a friendly environment (Nur‘ashiqin et al., The mission and vision of 13 public and private HEIs of 2011). Malaysia, which are known as good academic institutions, Shari and Jaafar (2006) experimented the level of integra- were also studied (Table 2). It is revealed from the table that tion and implementation on sustainability issues in the aca- the institutions show some of the great ambitious visions, demic curriculum of the schools of Architecture in Malaysian and they do not differ much among these establishments. HEIs. The study used questionnaires to collect data from the However, questions arise how these organizations are achiev- students who were selected randomly from public universi- ing these goals gradually. Thus, it can be recommended for ties and private HEIs. The questionnaire was divided into further evaluation in this regard from the institutional as well quantitative and qualitative parts. SPSS software used as a as the student’s point of view. However, principally, it was tool to analyzing data. This study suggests organizing more tried to identify how these institutes are offering the courses. 6 Table 2. Mission and Visions of Different Institutes, Centers and Faculties of the HEIs of Malaysia With the Proportion of Representation in Covering Sustainability Courses. Institute/ center Types of programs Vision Mission Prop % UKM Taught courses and research •• To make Malaysia as an international reference •• Balancing trade-offs between environment and development. 65 in graduate and postgraduate center •• Linking policy and building capacity to meet the aspirations of level •• To be a center of excellence in research and sustainable development training in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific •• Enhance human capital and capacity at national and regional levels •• Generating innovative research and knowledge •• Support knowledge-based decision making for sustainable sharing development UM Taught courses and research •• To conduct basic and applied research for better •• Facilitate and coordinate Malaysian scientific efforts to global 65 in graduate and postgraduate understanding sciences level •• To maximize the effectiveness of academic •• To promote multidisciplinary and cross-institutional research, and programs to influence policies and decisions •• Integrating research results with sustainable •• Promote and maintain Malaysia’s presence as a significant player in development Antarctic research •• To influence public attitudes and promote community involvement in sustainability UMS Taught courses and research •• To conduct world-class research •• To be a research and reference center in sustainability science in graduate and postgraduate •• Integrating research and policies for sustainable •• To provide well-trained and skilled manpower in the field level development •• Market-driven educational programs and strategic research UniMAP Taught courses and research •• An Internationally Competitive Academic and •• To produce human capital to serve the nation’s development and 20 in graduate and postgraduate Research Institution industrial competitiveness agenda level UNIMAS Taught courses and research •• To become a leading academia in knowledge •• To promote and conduct fundamental and applied research 30 in graduate and postgraduate development and research in SEA region •• To develop understanding of the ecological principles which level support conservation and sustainable use of natural resources UTM Taught courses and research •• To be a leading academic institution in •• To stimulate, encourage, and enhance research programs in 40 in graduate and postgraduate environmental-related academic activities environmental-related areas level •• To establish collaboration among academics in various disciplines and agencies •• To provide advisory and consultancy services to public and private agencies on environmental issues UiTM Taught courses and research •• To be an internationally reputed academic •• Committed to promoting continuous professional education 30 in graduate and postgraduate institution, committed to pursuing excellence, in and research in the technology-driven built environment and to level professional learning, research, and sustainable further enhance the Bumiputera’s competitiveness in the global development market UMP Taught courses and research •• To be a world-class center in management for •• Provide high-quality services and research in earth resources for 25 in graduate and postgraduate engineering and technology of earth resources sustainable development level USM Taught courses and research •• To establish a renowned sustainability-led •• To contribute, through education for sustainable development, 70 in graduate and postgraduate university based on the fusion of the sciences scientific assessment, policy research, and capacity building, to level and humanities in our striving for global efforts to resolve pressing problem confronting our Malaysian sustainability and poverty alleviation society and the global community today and the future •• To adopt a holistic research and develop various •• To accelerate the realization of urban drainage metamorphosis to new technologies in sustainability issues transform the quality of life in urban areas •• To establish a platform for scientists and social scientist from Malaysia and South East Asia region •• To promote research network and international cooperation (continued) 7 Table 2. (continued) Institute/ center Types of programs Vision Mission Prop % UNITEN Taught courses and research •• To become center of excellence of research •• Providing and promoting research on sustainable development 40 in graduate and postgraduate on environmental aspects at local, regional, and •• Develop strong networking with internationally reputed centers level global scales and organizations •• To be recognized nationally and internationally •• Advancing engineering knowledge through research and design for excellence and leadership in application of in sustainable/Green Technology and ecosystem management for Sustainable/Green Technology to conserve the conservation of environment natural environment and resource •• To conduct independent research and contribute toward •• To be the premier energy policy research capacity building in energy and environment issues relevant to institute in Malaysia and the Asia-Pacific Region the country’s socioeconomic goal which will benefit the public, government, regulators, industry, and academia UTAR Taught courses and research •• The establishment of a leading center of •• To promote multidisciplinary research, product development, 20 in graduate and postgraduate excellence for research, development, and and training of personnel in priority areas to drive local industries level commercialization of natural resources toward sustainable utilization of natural resources •• To be a center of excellence in leading-edge •• To establish a focal point for research and development in various basic and applied research for environmental aspects of environment and Green Technology, to develop engineering and Green Technology niche green technologies meeting national and regional needs, and to provide education and training opportunities in Green Technology for students, public, industries, and local professionals MMU Sustainable system management •• To produce graduates with skills in business and •• To establish a focal point for relating business and engineering 10 (postgraduate level) engineering management to become the change sector devoted to support sustainable development through agents in technology and sustainable energy innovative research and development industries •• To develop business leaders who are innovative and able to spearhead the advancement of technology-based industry in the country UPM Taught courses and research •• To be an excellent international research center •• To develop high impact and competitive research to generate 50 in graduate and postgraduate for sustainability studies new knowledge and human capitals for achievement of level •• To be a leading research center for the sustainability advancement of sustainable agriculture •• To provide and stimulate economic growth through •• Become a world-class research institute in the interdisciplinary, cutting edge and knowledge-intensive research field of nanotechnology and advanced materials activities •• Contribute significantly toward sustainable development and conserving natural resources Note. HEI = higher educational institutions; UKM = Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; UM = University of Malaya; UMS = Universiti Malaysia Sabah; UniMAP = Universiti Malaysia Perlis; UNIMAS = Universiti Malaysia Sarawak; SEA = Southeast Asia; UTM = Universiti Teknologi Malaysia; UiTM = Universiti Teknologi Mara; UMP = Universiti Malaysia Pahang; USM = Universiti Sains Malaysia; UNITEN = Universiti Tenaga Nasional; UTAR = Universiti Tun Abdul Razak; MMU = Multi-Media University; UPM = Universiti Putra Malaysia. 8 SAGE Open It is observed that the strategy taken by the Ministry of organized and managed by the Institute for Environment and Higher Education (MoHE; 2007, 2010), Malaysia, has a sig- Development (LESTARI), which has been established for nificant impact on these organizations. However, the degree promoting sustainability in the academia as well as to link of representation of the sustainability disciplines were found with the practitioners and the policy makers. The meaning of to be varied largely among different institutions offering LESTARI is sustainability, which is a product of Agenda 21 those into their academic courses. The further in-depth study and the Malaysia’s global agreement of initiatives for sus- may define the impact of these courses, while the number of tainability. In practice, these programs may provide strong students and the ratios will be obtained from the continuous messages to all related with the institution. Although these monitoring and time-series data. are not a usual pedagogical approach, it has an immense Minghat and Yasin (2010) investigated sustainability in HEIs impact on society; this is also an important objective of sus- system emphasizing on Technical and Vocational Education in tainability in pedagogy. However, students who do not have Malaysia. The qualitative research method is used in this study a sustainability course in their graduate or postgraduate study interviewing 12 respondents according to their position. Findings may also be aware of the approach and understand the impor- showed that 16 elements contribute to sustainable development. tance of a green and sustainable environment having integ- These elements are creativity, innovation, networking and part- rity, beauty, and safety. nerships, staff development programs, methods of teaching, generic skills, industrial relations and training, counseling, entre- Concluding Remarks preneurship, information and communications technology (ICT) It revealed that considerable efforts had been put forth by the skills, benefits, recognition, knowledge, competency-based governmental initiatives to include sustainable development training, articulation, and management commitment. agendas in higher education system in Malaysia. As a result, a Education for sustainability is a process of developing con- satisfactory proportion of academic courses have been devoted cerns, abilities, attitudes, and values toward the next leadership to sustainability studies. However, many aspects of sustainability of society. This process ensures their participation in sustain- are yet to be included in the educational systems; that is, curricu- able development activities more effectively in the local, lum, pedagogy, extracurricular and campus-based activities. national, and international levels and helps them to work Implying, that the domains of sustainability—environment, toward a more sustainable future (Lea, Stephenson, & Troy, economy, and society, are interrelated and thus they all have to be 2003). University students do not only get knowledge in their weighted by a significant proportion in various initiatives. At the particular area but also gain more than the academic degrees. same time, a scientific evaluation scheme should apply to evalu- Higher institutions of a region are responsible to their society, ate the outcomes of these approaches to the students, and this is and leaders of these academies should relate various aspects particularly lacking in Malaysian education system. and issues of sustainability in their research niche through Development of a suitable and effective pedagogy for opera- innovation, technology transfer, engaging with the community, tive teaching–learning is necessary. Therefore, it is important to and interact with mass people. Hence, it is important for the evaluate the effectiveness of existing curriculum and modules, education system to be harmonized with sustainable develop- and changes in restructuring or improving the curriculum based ment aspects effectively in HEIs (Zain et al., 2009). on in-depth research must be taken into account from time to time. Besides, an all-inclusive center or faculty for learning and Sustainability in Practice (Other Than the Formal research of all domains of sustainability, including climate Curricula) change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, renewable energy, Green Campus Initiative is one of the initiatives that is in fact sustainable business, Green Technology, poverty reduction, and a better approach to make the future generation aware of sus- sustainable consumption, is needed. Presently, no institute or tainability. Owens and Halfacre-Hitchcock (2006) reported center exists having all these domains under the same umbrella. that several researchers acknowledged the positive role of Although many aspects have been addressed separately across HEIs in promoting sustainability through such program. In the HEIs, the integration and coordination of the outcomes are Malaysia, several universities such as UKM, UM, Universiti not sufficiently done. Therefore, the outputs of many research Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia projects have remained in dark and failed to contribute to the (UTM), and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) have a similar society. As a result, the effort of sustainability remains far away program. In UKM, a forum of “Sustainable Campus” (gener- from the adequate achievements. A national platform designated ally known as Kampus Lestari, in the Malay language) works for integrating various institutions devoted to achieving sustain- on building awareness and promoting a culture to leave ability goals may be helpful. Furthermore, a more in-depth study through sustainability and green livelihood. The USM and is required to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs, identi- UTM also have similar programs. UKM’s another program fying gaps in the pedagogy and developing effective curriculum on a sustainable river flow “Flow or Knowledge” (known as for sustainability knowledge development and relating them to Alor Ilmu, in the Malay language) also incorporated various the society. In addition to that, all parties need to overcome the stakeholders to become aware of ecology and sustainability. limitations of working on the same platform to establish a sus- Both these “Kampus Lestari” and “Alor Ilmu” have been tainable society at the national to the regional scales. Reza 9 Declaration of Conflicting Interests Ngah, K., Mustaffa, J., Zakaria, Z., Noordin, N., & Sawal, M. (2011). Formulation of Agenda 21 process indicators for The author declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to Malaysia. Journal of Management and Sustainability, 1, 82-89. the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Nur‘ashiqin, W., Choy, E. A., Ali, N., Lyndon, N., Saadiah, H., & Buang, A. (2011). Diagnosing knowledge: Attitudes, and prac- Funding tice for a sustainable campus. World Applied Sciences Journal, The author disclosed receipt of the following financial support for 13, 93-98. the research and/or authorship of this article: The author express Owens, K. A., & Halfacre-Hitchcock, A. (2006). As green as we his gratitude to the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for the finan- think? The case of the College of Charleston green building cial support through the University Research Grant DLP-2014-015 initiative. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher provided to this study. Education, 7, 114-128. Reza, M. I. H., Choy, E. A., & Pereira, J. J. (2013, April 19-20). A References field based pedagogical approach is needed for understand- ing sustainability: The context of disaster risk reduction in Azizan, S. A. (2009). Environmental education in Malaysian Malaysia. 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Leadership Academy (AKEPT), Ministry of Higher Education.

Journal

SAGE OpenSAGE

Published: Aug 26, 2016

Keywords: education for sustainable development (ESD); pedagogy; higher education system; disaster risk reduction; sustainable consumption

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