Working together, driven apart: Reflecting on a joint endeavour to address sustainable development within a university
This source preferred by Chris Shiel
Authors: Shiel, C. and Williams, A.
Start date: 3 September 2014
A holistic and transformational approach to Sustainable Development within a university requires systemic change and embraces new ways of working. Champions must challenge silo mentalities, develop new processes to encourage synergies across university functions, and strive to re-align systems and goals towards the common endeavour of sustainability. But how easy is this to achieve? It is well documented that working across disciplines presents challenges but forging a synergistic relationship between the environmental management function of Estates and an academic champion for ESD is not only logical but might be an easier place to explore how two roles can work together to achieve change. This paper provides a reflective account of such an alliance, outlining a joint endeavour to address sustainable development. An analysis is provided of those factors which impede such working and the different role tensions that make working together challenging. It will also consider the benefits of collaboration, as the perspectives from the operational and academic domains provide a broader context for understandings, access to different forums, an ability to tackle conflicting agendas together and an opportunity to genuinely effect change, providing mutual support through shared perseverance. The paper will conclude by questioning the extent to which progress made will endure, if the benefits of this synergy are not acknowledged by university leadership.