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Education for Sustainable Development and Environmental Communication in the National University of General Sarmiento, Argentina
Megacities in developing countries such as Buenos Aires in Argentina experience significant environmental impacts and therefore its higher education institutions (HEI) are challenged to teach and research about sustainable development (SD) in very unsustainable contexts. One of the aspects of SD in universities and HEI is the sustainability in campus operations, as solid waste management programs and efficient energy and water consumption. As other authors, we found in a previous work that lack of institutionalization of these programs, limited allowance and a shortage of communication plans are some of the barriers to progress. Other relevant aspects to implement of SD in universities and HEI is its inclusion in regular courses and curricular plans and in related activities with communities. In this context, this work proposes to study two indicators in HES: Performance in Education for Sustainable Development (PESD) and Environmental Communication for SD (ECSD). These indicators are estimated by applying case study methodology to the university campus of Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento (UNGS) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. PESD is obtained through the quantification of subjects, formal programs and undergraduate and postgraduate courses linked to environmental issues, and whether they are either optional or mandatory. ECSD intends to assess how university exhibits its environmental performance on its website and the periodicity of the information´s renewal, provided that the environmental issue counts with a description. The necessary information for these indicators was extracted from the UNGS website and its curricular plans for each career. Our conclusions put into evidence that, regarding PESD indicator, UNGS includes very scarce subjects linked to environmental issues in postgraduate, undergraduate, and extension programs. The outcomes also showed that ECSD is limited since UNGS does not publish neither its environmental policy, nor its informational reports about the participation in universities´ networks on SD (both national and international), and nor its environmental actions on campus in which its eco group (a group of volunteers of students, graduates, professors and supporting personnel) periodically takes part. This work is still in early stages, and it will be complemented with the answers of the surveys that will be done on campus in 2019. We should confirm our premise that although the university community has no formal environmental training, it knows and practices sustainable habits such as the reduction solid waste generation, efficient energy and water consumption and promotes environmental conservation. It is expected that results would contribute to show to our authorities the relevant role of universities and HEI in forming professionals with SD criteria as one of the key aspects to transitions to SD in our countries.