Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education

2019 Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho

Cultural Sustainability in Higher Education

  • Lynn PayneEmail author
  • Joy Kcenia O’Neil
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-11352-0_109


Culture is defined as both material and nonmaterial attributes of a society, as well as social organizations, oral and written literature, religion, myths, and values and norms representing the important aspects. Social practices, technologies, and tool usage (e.g., cooking, shelter, and clothing) and expressive forms of art (e.g., music, dance, rituals, and religion) are universal by nature (Macionis and Gerber 2011) and should be valued as inclusive within the higher educational setting. Cultural sustainability in higher education recognizes the need to honor and transmit culture for future generations, achieved by infusing pluralistic, transformative learning to foster socio-ecological change.


Cultural sustainability is a multifaceted term encompassing a variety of perspectives, making a clear and concise definition difficult. At the most basic level, Bekerman and Kopelitz define cultural sustainability as “an attempt to transmit culture, or particular ways...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bekerman Z, Kopelowitz E (eds) (2008) Cultural education – cultural sustainability: minority, diaspora, indigenous, and ethno-religious groups in multicultural societies. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Bezbatchenko AW (2010) Sustainability in colleges and universities: toward institutional culture shifts, vol VI. J Stud Aff New York University, p 1Google Scholar
  3. Cajete G (1994) Look to the mountain: an ecology of indigenous education. Kivaki Press, DurangoGoogle Scholar
  4. Colorado State University (n.d.) Todo Santos Center. https://todossantos.colostate.edu/. Accessed 12 Nov 2017
  5. Cortese AD (2003) The critical role of higher education in creating a sustainable future. Plan High Educ 31(March–May):8Google Scholar
  6. Cortese AD, Hattan AS (2010) Research and solutions: education for sustainability as the mission of higher education. Sustainability 3(1):48–52.  https://doi.org/10.1089/SUS.2009.9802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dehghanmongabadi A, Shirkhanloo N (2013) Questioning the contribution of higher education institutions to the cultural sustainability of local communities. In: Paper presented at the people and the planet 2013 conference: transforming the future, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  8. Duxbury N, Gillette E, Pepper K (2007) Exploring the cultural dimensions of sustainability. In: Paper presented at the people and the planet: transforming the future conference, Melbourne. http://www.creativecity.ca/news/special-edition-4/index.html
  9. Gilboy M, Karpinski C (2009) Cultural experience project: expanding college students’ worldview. J Nutr Educ Behav 41(2):146.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2008.06.003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Giovannini P (2009) Research and consultancy in ethnobotany: What is biocultural diversity and why is it important? (2009). http://petergiovannini.com/what-is-biocultural-diversity-definition-introduction.html. Accessed 26 Feb 2018
  11. Hogg TC, McComb MR (1969) Cultural pluralism: its implications for education. http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el_196912_hogg.pdf. Accessed 26 Feb 2018
  12. IES: National Center for Education Statistics (n.d.) Enrollment fast facts. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=98. Accessed 18 Dec 2017
  13. Laine M (2016) Culture in sustainability – defining cultural sustainability in education. Discourse Commun Sustain Edu 7(2):52–67.  https://doi.org/10.1515/dcse-2016-0016CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Macionis JJ, Gerber LM (2011) Sociology. Pearson Prentice Hall, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  15. Maffi L (2010) Biocultural diversity conservation: a global sourcebook. Earthscan, London/Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  16. Navarro M (2009) A step beyond anthropology. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/education/edlife/03sustain.html. Accessed 26 Feb 2018
  17. Orr DW (ed) (2004) Earth in mind: on education, environment, and the human prospect, 10th anniversary edn. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  18. Packalen S (2010) Culture and sustainability. Corp Soc Responsib Environ Manag 17(2):4Google Scholar
  19. Pope RL, Mueller JA, Reynolds AL (2009) Looking back and moving forward: future directions for diversity research in student affairs. J Coll Stud Dev 50(6):640–658.  https://doi.org/10.1353/csd.0.0097CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Springer J (2013) UNESCOs contribution to preserving traditional and indigenous knowledge. Int Preserv News (61):6–7Google Scholar
  21. Sterling S (2001) Sustainable education: re-visioning learning and change. Schumacher briefing no 6. Green Books, DarlingtonGoogle Scholar
  22. Sustainable Development (2015) Conclusions from the COST action IS1007 investigating cultural sustainability. University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. http://www.culturalsustainability.eu/conclusions.pdf. Accessed 23 Oct 2017Google Scholar
  23. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2017) Education for sustainable development goals: learning objectives. In: UNESCO (ed) UNESCO. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, ParisGoogle Scholar
  24. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (n.d.) Teaching and learning for a sustainable future: a multimedia teacher education programme. http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/mods/theme_c/mod11.html. Accessed 3 Dec 2017

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Wisconsin Stevens PointStevens PointUSA
  2. 2.School of EducationCollege of Professional Studies, University of Wisconsin Stevens PointStevens PointUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Tamara Savelyeva
    • 1
  1. 1.The Education University of Hong KongHong KongChina