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Justin Edric G. Yturzaeta and Maria Assunta C. Cuyegkeng*

Creating Sustainable Value for Higher Education Institutions: Using A Sustainability Framework to Promote Social Innovation

Social innovation has been defined in many ways, but the common elements are new ideas, processes, collaborations; innovative activities; and addressing a social need. (Mulgan, 2007; Grimm, Fox, Baines & Albertson, 2013 and literature cited therein). One imperative for all institutions is to address the need for sustainable operations and practices. In particular, higher education institutions (HEIs) find themselves playing a dual role: developing students to become change-agents for sustainable development while operating as sustainable campuses themselves. This paper introduces a tool that could be used by HEIs to assess their sustainability and then plan for new processes and innovative activities to address environmental, social, governance, and academic (ESGA) aspects. The tool was adapted from the framework of Hart and Milstein (2003) for creating sustainable value based on two dimensions, namely a temporal dimension (today-tomorrow) and an organizational boundary dimension (internal-external). Nine HEIs served as respondents regarding their ESGA activities for each of the four quadrants of the Sustainable Value Framework. Their responses showed that the resulting sustainable values for each quadrant could be classified as 1) institutional, environmental, and social well-being; 2) the development of sustainability goals; 3) institutional reputation and social responsibility; and 4) the development of sustainability solutions. Figure 1 shows the result for one HEI. The placement of the initiatives was analyzed according to the degree of portfolio balance and the strategic positioning of the initiatives. The results can thus be used to assess the HEI’s sustainability, showing the areas of strength as well as those that need to be improved. Based on the assessment, the tool could also provide strategic direction to improve the HEI’s portfolio balance of sustainability initiatives. The degree of portfolio balance can be assessed by looking at how well-represented each dimension is in the four quadrants. Specific metrics for this can be developed per HEI depending on their sustainability principles. Furthermore, the adapted framework sets principles and guidelines, rather than a standard that has requirements or specifications or a rating or index. This allows HEIs to assess and plan according to their respective contexts, e.g., their geography, resources, mission, target market, specializations. This means that if the HEIs look for solutions within their particular contexts, they could use this as a social innovation tool that could creatively address their sustainability needs. (Figure 1. Sample scorecard for University Epsilon showing the sustainable values created per quadrant, as well as the number of initiatives (in parentheses) under each initiative type per quadrant.)