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Higher education for sustainable development in Japan: policy and progress

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to review key developments and the role of governmental support in the field of education for sustainable development (ESD) in higher education in Japan. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This is an analytical review paper on policy and practice, using an evaluative perspective to consider developments, challenges and prospects for ESD in higher education in Japan and the significant drivers for existing and ongoing activities. Findings ‐ This paper reveals the significance of the initiatives taken by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of the Environment for the development of ESD in Japanese universities. Government policies and funding supports have been critical, but the current dependency on them also poses a significant challenge for the continuous development of ESD in Japanese higher education institutions over the longer term. Analysis suggests that encouraging leadership development for sustainability amongst university executive staff members is critical to continuing and strengthening efforts in this area in Japanese higher education. Originality/value ‐ Although environmental education and awareness is well developed in Japan, the engagement of higher education with the more inclusive field of ESD has been less well researched and documented. This review foregrounds the distinct historical platform for ESD in Japanese higher education and the strength of government support, to examine the role of these drivers for ESD and to inform understanding of sustainability efforts in higher education worldwide.
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Keywords: Government policy; Higher education; Japan; Sustainable development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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