Evaluating the engagement of universities in capacity building for sustainable development in local communities
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Authors: Shiel, C., Leal Filho, W., do Paço, A. and Brandli, L.
Journal: Evaluation and Program Planning
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Universities have the potential to play a leading role in enabling communities to develop more sustainable ways of living and working however, sustainable communities may only emerge with facilitation, community learning and continual efforts to build their capacities. Elements of programme planning and evaluation on the one hand, and capacity building on the other, are needed. The latter entails approaches and processes that may contribute to community empowerment; universities may either lead such approaches, or be key partners in an endeavour to empower communities to address the challenges posed by the need for sustainable development. Although capacity building and the promotion of sustainable development locally, are on the agenda for universities who take seriously regional engagement, very little is published that illustrates or describes the various forms of activities that take place. Further, there is a paucity of studies that have evaluated the work performed by universities in building capacity for sustainable development at the local level. This paper is an attempt to address this need, and entails an empirical study based on a sample of universities in the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal and Brazil. The paper examines the extent to which capacity building for sustainable development is being undertaken, suggests the forms that this might take and evaluates some of the benefits for local communities. The paper concludes by reinforcing that universities have a critical role to play in community development; that role has to prioritise the sustainability agenda.