An Investigation into Canadian Student Leaders' Conceptualizations and Perceptions Related to Sustainability in Higher Education
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While universities have a responsibility to engage in sustainability, efforts to do so are not yet standard practice. This may be due to the limited knowledge about how university stakeholders understand sustainability. This study investigated conceptualizations of sustainability and sustainable universities by student union presidents at 27 Canadian universities; it also examined perceived barriers and motivators to sustainability in higher education (SHE). This investigation utilized thematic analysis and the amount of participant support to analyze semi-structured interviews and concept checklists. Findings indicated considerable conceptual variance regarding sustainability although there was a greater consensus of ideas regarding what constituted sustainable universities. Participants noted that while many barriers to SHE exist, including finances and attitudes, there are also many possible motivators, including finances and student pressure. This study demonstrates that a single definition of sustainability or sustainable universities is unlikely and recommends including all stakeholders in localized discussions of SHE.