Developing Research Priorities with a Cohort of Higher Education for Sustainability Experts

Wright (2007) full text summary PDF

For which topic were research priorities identified?

higher education for sustainability

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?


Why was it conducted at all?

Despite the initial success of HES research to date, the international HES community has indicated a lack of cohesion amongst researchers due to the interdisciplinary nature of the emerging field and few opportunities for international intellectual exchange. Recent consultations held with HES researchers in the US (University Leaders for a Sustainable Future Consultation in March 2002), and Europe (CRE-Copernicus Consultation in September 2001) have focused on assessing the development of HES research internationally. The general conclusions drawn from these meetings was that due to the emerging nature of the HES field, researchers must continue to develop an understanding of the critical questions necessary to advance HES research.

What was the objective?

to develop research priorities for the emerging field of higher education for sustainability

What was the outcome?

a ranking list of 19 research topics

How long did the research prioritization take?

October 2005

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?


How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: Delphi round 1: survey asking participants: What are the priorities you see for HES research in the future?. Step 2: workshop with Delphi rounds 2 and 3: starting with round table discussions regarding current state of HES research, participants could suggest new research items. Step 3: Delphi round 2: participants were asked to review each item on the list and to rate them, group ratings were then reported back to participants, participants then engaged in group discussions. Step 4: Delphi round 3: list of 19 research topics, participants were asked to reflect on each research topic and then choose the 10 topics they felt were most important

Which stakeholders took part?

Higher education for sustainability experts. 35 participants in all 3 rounds.

How were stakeholders recruited?

Experts were purposively selected for their expertise in HES practice and/or research. Potential participants were identified in consultation with the Canadian Consortium for Sustainable Development Research, United Nations University - Institute for Advanced Studies, the Global HES Partnership, and University Leaders for a Sustainable Future. A list of 48 individuals was compiled and 35 of those individuals representing 17 countries responded positively to the invitation.

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders were mere participants of the research prioritization process; they were not actively involved in the process.