Biodiversity management in higher education institutions

Submission deadline date: 15 December 2023


The Convention of Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems” (CBD, 2016, p. 3). Previous and current global agendas promote biodiversity protection and sustainable use, among them the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (2011-2020) (CBD, 2020) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (UN, 2015), specifically SDGs 14 and 15. Meanwhile, biodiversity loss is just one part of the wider global environmental challenge facing humanity (Roberts et al., 2020) and is recognized as one of the top five global risks for the economy (WEF, 2020). Viewed within the framework of the nine planetary boundaries, the rate of biodiversity loss ranks as one of the highest risks (Rockström et al., 2009). Thus, protection and preservation of biodiversity is one of the great challenges for humanity as human well-being depends greatly on the diversity of genetics, species, and ecosystems, the three essential elements that form biodiversity. 

Higher education plays a crucial role in ensuring that the next generation of decision makers is capably responsive to global societal and environmental needs (Sassen & Azizi, 2018a, 2018b). These graduates will encounter a work environment that is challenging, constantly changing, and highly competitive, while at the same time being susceptible to sustainability dilemmas and various crises (Storey et al., 2017). In addition, higher education institutions actively work to reduce the negative impacts of their own actions and operations, which might be mitigated by sustainability related measures (Alonso-Almeida et al., 2015). 

In recent years, the increasing pressure on universities has led to an expansion of the focus from the traditional teaching and research model to a broader contribution to society which is called the third mission (Etzkowitz, 1983). Engaging in entrepreneurial models, universities contribute to the social, economic and cultural development of the regions in which they operate, by transferring knowledge and technologies to business sector and to society as a whole (Compagnucci and Spigarelli, 2020).

Prior research has shown that university campuses can provide living laboratory initiatives for species conservation, climate adaptation, and biodiversity restoration, preventing the environmental damages wrought by rapid urbanization (Liu et al., 2017; Susilowati et al., 2021; Kirpluk & Podstolski, 2015; Witte et al., 2018). For this reason, higher education institutions can position themselves through teaching, research and third mission activities as one of the solutions able to halt the further degradation of biodiversity.

Achieving biodiversity protection and preservation means that teaching, research, and third mission activities needs to be diffused throughout the entire higher education system, encompassing all elements of the higher education institutions (governance, teaching, research, outreach, campus operations) and interfaces among them.  In this context, there are some good practice examples where a university initiative led to greater conscience, preservation and understanding of biodiversity. For example, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main (Germany) works with an artificial biodiversity park (Palmengarten Frankfurt) as a lab, teaching and knowledge creation (Palmengarten, n.d.).  Furthermore, Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Delhi (India) is one of few green spaces around Delhi. Students from schools and universities visit this neighbourhood to learn about the environment and biodiversity (albeit shrinking). It is also a flash point where citizens have associated to protect it from further destruction into a high-value real estate (Delhi Biodiversity Foundation, n.d.). 
However, although many universities worldwide have carried out much research and released reports regarding sustainability, there is still a lack of literature focusing on biodiversity. To broaden the concept of biodiversity, higher education institutions play a vital role in providing knowledge and research to individuals, communities, and society. Classroom offerings in the field promote a wider scale of knowledge to strengthen the linkage between biodiversity and human well-being. These positive contributions from campuses also support urban ecosystems on a local scale and, on larger scales, for cities, society, and the globe. 

Thereby, this special issue aims at explicitly addressing the current state of the art, delivering good practice examples, identifying drivers, describing challenges, delivering guidance, and developing new approaches to biodiversity management in higher education and meeting the SDGs in the higher education sector (e.g., SDGs 14 and 15).


List of topic areas

The guest editors of this special issue are soliciting contributions from academia, in particular higher education institutions specialized in biodiversity management, as well as practitioners involved in projects for biodiversity integration within higher education institutions from different countries including, but not limited to, the following topical areas of biodiversity management at higher education institutions:

  • Strategic approaches to biodiversity management;
  • Reporting on and assessment of biodiversity;
  • Stakeholder involvement and building strategic partnerships for the implementation of biodiversity management;
  • Organizational capacity building to develop biodiversity management;
  • Identification of biodiversity related processes within sustainability transitions;
  • Integration of biodiversity topic into curriculum and research projects;
  • Drivers and obstacles in implementation;
  • Differences in biodiversity awareness and integration across countries.

Consistent with the aims of IJSHE and in line with the topical areas outlined above, contributions are invited on a range of empirical and conceptual issues, with priority given to papers expanding previous research while addressing challenges and methodologies related to biodiversity management of higher education institutions, taking a holistic approach, or focusing on biodiversity management for a special task or element of the higher education institutions (governance, education, research, outreach, campus activities). Contributions employing innovative and under-used methodological approaches or theoretical frameworks are particularly welcomed as well as elaborated case studies.


Submission information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see:

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title Biodiversity management in higher education institutions at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


Key deadlines

Abstracts due by 31 January 2023

Email for abstract submissions: [email protected]


Opening date for manuscript submissions: 25 August 2023

Closing date for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2023