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Aspects regarding the implementing of the concept of sustainable development in the educational management

Aspects regarding the implementing of the concept of sustainable development in the educational management

Key words: sustainable development, education, environment protection.

Abstract: The concept of Sustainable Development should be analyzed from multiple perspectives, out of which the human resources training is defined as the central aspect, and its lacking involves the implementing of the above mentioned concept in an unsuccessful way.

Implementing the concept of Sustainable Development initially engages changes of perspective for the business environment, secondly the development of legislation with facilities for the economic agents who want to be involved in this concept’s implementation, and thirdly the assuring of the labor force able to implement the concept.

Higher education, and mostly the technical field, has a large experience in the training of the human resources to implement this concept, guiding specialists to be able to find the best solutions for the optimal use of the local, material and human resources, under the purpose of increasing the living standard and the environment protection.

1. Defining the concept of sustainable development

The concept of 'Sustainable Development' has several definitions, among which the most usual one is: 'that development which ensures the needs of the present times without compromising the chances of the future generations to meet their own needs'.

Reported to a country, the concept of 'Sustainable Development' is defined as the ability of that country to achieve at national level the balance between economic-social development and environment, taking into account the natural resources, social conditions in the view of insuring economic and social prosperity for the future generations.

This concept has emerged as the result of the fact that currently the world is facing serious issues generated by the insufficient resources, the modality of distributing the resources on continents, and the fact that a large proportion of population is disadvantaged and suffers of poverty.

The concept of sustainable development can be defined in concrete terms by at least four major objectives:

Ø     Setting up programs for stimulating personal development through education, social ethics, developing practical abilities, stimulating intellectual creativity, etc.

Ø     Conceiving a universal awareness - environmental and social, by encouraging the respect for nature, by avoiding the environmental pollution, increasing quality of life for everyone;

Ø     Implementing and respecting the universal laws on environment protection;

Ø     Preserving the natural capital by reducing consumption of materials and energy by recycling materials and using renewable energy.

If today's environmental assessment is difficult, then assessing the future is at least as difficult. People are still looking to find answers to questions like: 'How the impact of long-term economic and social activities should be evaluated?'

2. Socio-economic implications of implementing the concept of Sustainable Development
Socio-economic implications of this concept’s implementation can be withdrawn on two action directions, namely:

Ø     Promoting the economic growth and environmental management, actions that include the subsidies elimination when using the resources, clarifying the property rights, accelerating the training and education process of the population;

Ø     Ceasing the altering process of the environmental through laws, sanctions and incentives.

Studies undertaken in the field of stimulating this concept have revealed that the administrative tools based on market criteria, and also generating financial obligations to those who pollute are more efficient than setting up quantitative restrictions or quota of materials or products.

In many countries, the intentions of Sustainable Implementation’s concept have failed due to the fact that there had been no institutional capacity for coordinating and tracking of the implementation of the concept. It should be noted that the World Bank provides technical assistance for supporting the states in strengthening institutional capacity for tracking the implementation concept.

The environmental approach of the concept of Sustainable Development or the so-called eco-development must directly ensure the protection of the biosphere, the biodiversity and the normal sequence of the phenomena and bio-geo-chemical cycles.

If by the end of last century the issue of exhaustion of resources was not closely approached, today this problem is more and more of an issue, mainly in the field of energy, fossil energy resources, coal, oil and gas.

As it was previously said, the natural resources were considered 'inexhaustible goods' and one could foreseen in these circumstances a continuous economic development based on resources.

Economic environment, as a relatively new field of study, now seeks solutions to establish environmental and social criteria in taking some economic decisions.

The economic approach of the concept of Sustainable Development may influence important decisions regarding the concept of economic and social life.

Economic environment, as field of study, is not new. In the past decades, the existent economic principles were built on and extended mainly to assess the impact of economic activity on the environment and biodiversity, more recently, especially in the case of developing countries. In the case of these countries, taking major decisions on economic development takes into account the impact of future economic activities on the environment and biodiversity.

Sustainable economic development (sustainable) is now interpreted as a process of maintaining the welfare projected indefinitely into the future.

Economists have introduced a new concept, namely economic optimality defined as maximizing the present value of consumption. This concept is antagonistic to that of continuous and sustainable development. Moreover, some economists consider that the concept of economic optimality is synonymous with non-sustainability.

Therefore today one is trying to combine the optimality with sustainability, looking to resolve the desire of maximum profit at any cost, with the concept of environmental protection, especially non-renewable resources.

Sociological approach of the Sustainable Development is quite new.

Sustainable social development means avoiding major problems, such as:

Ø     tensions generated by the major discrepancies between rich and poor;

Ø     dividing society on the basis of culture;

Ø     dividing society on ethnic criteria;

Ø     systematic breaching of the human rights.

All these, as history has shown, are sources of conflict, sometimes even violent and wars generators.

In this context, one should not neglect the slogan 'consider human the priority' within the framework of investments oriented towards sustainable and equitable development for all.

3. Strategies and options in implementing the concept of Sustainable Development in training the human resources

During 17-18 of March 2005, in Vilnius (Lithuania), was adopted, under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Europe United Nations (UNECE), the Strategy in the Field of Education for Sustainable Development. The main objective is to incorporate in all the educational systems of the key themes of sustainable development, such as poverty diminution, peace, ethics, democracy, cultural diversity and the management of natural resources.

In terms of education, sustainable development involves the acquisition of key skills universally valid in the context of globalization and the need of easing labor market. 'Education for a sustainable development develops and improves the ability of individuals, groups, communities, organizations and countries to think and act in favor of the continuous development. It can generate a change in people’s mentalities, increasing their ability to create a safer healthier and more prosperous world, improving in this manner the quality of life [5].

Romania has underlined the importance of adopting this strategy, fact that means 'the formalizing the concern for future generations and promoting the balance between progress and economic development on the one hand, and social cohesion and environmental protection, on the other hand.' The conclusion of the participants was: 'We must take steps today to maintain for the future the fragile balance between the economic, social and environmental aspects and the challenge of this century is to learn how to live on a limited planet [7].

Responding to the efforts of promoting a development of the human society accepted  socially, economically viable and environmentally sustainable, the General Council of the United Nations adopted on 20 December 2002, a resolution that sets the period 2005-2014 'Decade of Education for Sustainable Development', which shows the importance of education for the sustainable development in the world. The resolution indicates the need of integrating the sustainable development into the educational systems at all known levels.

In this context, both academic and administrative staff, and also the management decision makers for education, must improve themselves in terms of knowledge on education for sustainable development so that they can provide their advice and support in this area.

Education is seen as a path to sustainable development being a process of social learning and in search of innovative solutions [6].

In this international context, the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca is continuously and intensively involved in applying this concept at national level.

Technical University of Cluj-Napoca has acted on two main directions, namely:

Ø     Training human resource to implement the concept;

Ø     Opening new lines of research in the field.

Regarding human resource training, the old specializations that only tangential approached  this concept, respectively 'Engineering and Environmental Protection in Industry” and the postgraduate course of study' Special Procedures of Control and Pollution Reduction for Environment ', have been analyzed and adapted the new concept, and in parallel new master courses have been organized, among which: 'Sustainable Development and Biodiversity Protection”, “Sustainable Development and Environment Protection”, “Environmental Management of Natural Resources and Wastes Recycling”.

All these forms of education include a series of basic disciplines that approaches the implementation of the concept of sustainable development, such as: Fundamentals of the Concept of Sustainable Development, Strategies and Policies for Sustainable Development and Protection of Biodiversity, Sustainable Development and Arrangement of Planning, Environmental Management of Natural Resources, etc..

The themes of Bachelor and Master Final Projects have topics of applicative research character, such as: Use of Indigenous Materials to the Development of Ion Exchange Filters, Biomass Use for Energy Obtaining, Alternative Energy Sources, Recovery of Useful Materials out of Wastes, Development of New Composite Materials from Wastes, Energy Recovery from Wastes, etc. There are themes that approach the issue of using local resources and protection of limited natural resources and environmental protection and biodiversity.

When finalizing the curricula, one of the aspects that were taken into consideration was establishing the competencies a graduate must acquire as a result of attending these courses. In this purpose, a form of competencies has been drawn up and distributed to over a hundred business agents, research institutes, agencies, municipalities, etc. The completed forms were synthesized and afterwards were defined the minimum mandatory competencies required by the labor market. These skills have been covered by the compulsory disciplines, which were foreseen in the curricula.

Regarding the research direction in the field of 'Sustainable Development', new research directions that have been approached are:

Ø               the use of local resources to produce new products,

Ø               eco-design of products;

Ø               protection of natural resources by obtaining new materials and waste products;

Ø               alternative sources of energy,

Ø               increasing energy efficiency of industrial processes,

Ø               sustainable spatial planning;

Ø               BAT technology implementation in SMEs.

Teaching and research staff of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca are aware that implementing the concept of 'Sustainable Development' will be beneficial, especially for future generations.

We must change our mentality and think more of future generations. We have a duty to take all the necessary steps to ensure future generations a cleaner and more prosperous environment.


1. Baboianu, G., Cornelia Benea, Rusu, T., Strategies and European Policies in Sustainable Development and Biodiversity Protection - UTPRESS Publishing Office, Cluj-Napoca, 2008, ISBN 978 - 973-662-430-8.

2. Candea, Melinda and others- Organization, Planning and Sustainable Development of the Geographic Area, University’s Publishing Office, ISBN-973-749-022-3.

3. Munteanu, R., Alternative Energy Sources - UTPRESS Publishing Office, Cluj-Napoca, 2008, ISBN 978 - 973-713-245-1.

4. Rusu, T., Fundamentals of the Concept of Sustainable Development, UTPRESS Publishing Office, Cluj-Napoca, 2008, ISBN 978 - 973-662-407-0

5. Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development - UN-Economic Commission for Europe, Vilnius 17-18 March 2005.

6. National Strategy for Sustainable Development of Romania. Horizons, 2013-2020-2030 - National Center for Sustainable Development, Bucharest, 2008

7. www.edu.ro - Synopsis Education for Sustainable Development, Press Release - 21 March 2005.


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