Institutions of Higher Education and Partnerships in Education for Sustainable Development: Case Study of the Regional Center of Expertise (RCE) Penang, Malaysia

  •  Hamoon Khelghat-Doost    
  •  Zainal Sanusi    
  •  Tunku Fatimah Firdaus Dato’ Tunku Faridd    
  •  Govindran Jegatesen    


Sustainable development has become a central focal area in the global strategy for the development of the education sector’s future. The ultimate goal of this endeavor is to enable the recognition of Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) as major contributors to society's efforts at achieving sustainability.

Achieving sustainable development requires collaboration between different sectors and institutions, as well as the participation of all relevant stakeholders and individuals. That being said, there are many different ways through which people and organizations can work together to share knowledge, advocate causes and take action. As Willard and Creech (2008) argue, these may include campaign networks, communities of practice, knowledge networks, public-private partnerships, multi-stakeholder partnerships and strategic alliances. These have all become important mechanisms for identifying priorities, undertaking joint research and for engaging other stakeholders in developing workable solutions. By combining their efforts, members of networks and partnerships are able to have greater impacts on policies and practices than they would have been able to achieve on their own.

This paper seeks to highlight the reasons as to why Institutions of Higher Education serve as appropriate candidates in championing the cause of Education for Sustainable Development (EfSD) and why the success of this leadership by IHEs must occur with appropriate linkages between the government, communities, NGOs and the private sector. This paper also examines the different issues that arise as a result of such linkages by looking at a specific example, namely the Regional Center of Expertise (RCE) Penang on Education for Sustainable Development at Universiti Sains Malaysia

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