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This is sustainability to us

Clarification of the concept of sustainability within the framework of the Sustainability Initiative at the School of Economics, Business and Law

The term sustainable development is used in a wide variety of contexts and with partly differing meanings. Prior to the far-reaching process that is about to commence of integrating sustainability perspectives into our educational programmes, is appropriate to specify in greater detail what we mean by this concept.

We use the term sustainability in a broad sense and our starting point can be found in the definition presented in the Brundtland Report. For us, the term embodies environmental, economic and social sustainability with responsibility for the potential of future generations to live a good life. Our use of the term is naturally open to interpretation and must be subjected constantly to critical, scientifically based discussion.

Environmental sustainability is related to the natural conditions for our existence and the ways in which human activity affects these conditions. This includes ecological stability in the central ecosystems, the energy and climate issue, the health effects of emissions and contaminated food, the risks associated with genetic modification of plants and animals, our use of finite natural resources and overutilisation of renewable natural resources.

Economic and social sustainability is related to the economic and social structures that human beings have created to organise society. This includes ethical issues and issues related to responsibility on the individual, organisation and society level as well as cultural norms and the meaning and protection of human rights. Likewise, it includes stability in basic social structures, such as economic and financial systems, and allocation of resources, which also involves discrimination and poverty issues.

We would like to emphasise that we regard sustainability issues and related insights and skills to be key features in our programmes and that they should be compulsory to the same extent as the other elements. This also applies to the special student days, where there is a particular focus on sustainable development. It is important to point out that sustainability-related elements should have a scientific foundation and maintain a strong link to current research to the same extent as other elements in our programmes.

In conclusion, we generally encourage students to question critically the theories and methods mediated by the teacher and this naturally applies in this context. We are also well aware that here, as in other areas, scientific links are not always clear-cut and this should naturally be reflected in the teaching. At the same time, we should not shy away from discussing ethical and normative issues that ought to be addressed.

The aim is to ensure that when our students leave the School they are armed with relevant tools in the form of concrete skills and insights related to key sustainability issues and that they grow as individuals. Ultimately, we are endeavouring to ensure that they succeed well as individuals on the labour market they are about to enter and that in due course they will contribute to making the world a slightly better place.


English translation of the Swedish text that was approved by the Faculty Board 29/5, 2013.

Page Manager: Mattias Sundemo|Last update: 4/19/2016
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