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Towards Higher Education for Sustainable Development in BRICS: Focus on Brazil and South Africa


Scholarly literature informs that education for sustainable development (ESD) has become a significant educational initiative to address global challenges in the past decades. However, academic attention was mainly devoted to primary and secondary education. Some scholars report that the main focus on these two levels of education has averted scholarly attention from research exploring the relationship between higher education and sustainable development (SD). Academic dialogue about ESD in higher education has only recently gained momentum. Although all levels of education have an essential role to play in sustainability, the role of higher education is critical as higher education institutions (HEIs) are responsible for ensuring that future leaders understand the needs of the present and future. This responsibility is delegated to HEIs since they educate professionals who will take up leadership positions within society and incorporate sustainability into their organisations’ operations. In addition, the commitment of HEIs to sustainability serves as an example to other institutions. It is evident from the findings that maximising the implementation of ESD in higher education first calls for thorough identification of challenges limiting such implementation. Driven by the need to fill the gap in the existing literature, this study, based on systematic document analysis, brings attention to challenges associated with implementing ESD in institutions under investigation in the two BRICS countries, namely Brazil and South Africa. The two-folded research purpose was to (a) systematically examine relevant documents to explore the effectiveness of HEIs in South Africa and Brazil in implementing ESD and (b) provide recommendations for how HEIs in both contexts can enhance the implementation of ESD.


Higher Education in BRICS, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Sustainable Development, ESD in Brazil and South Africa



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