Interconnection between education, entrepreneurship, sustainability, and the green transition

Submission Deadline Extended: 30th June 2023

Guest Editors:

Tamer Abu-Alam – UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway

Vera Helene Hausner – UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway

Verena Liszt-Rohlf – University of Applied Sciences of Burgenland, Austria


Submission deadline: 30 June 2023

Special issue call:

Sustainability, climate action, green growth, and circular economy are among the key pillars of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which was adopted by all United Nations Member States (United Nations, 2015). The UN's 2030 agenda cannot be achieved unless the education system is equipped with knowledge about these challenges and take an active role in the transformative changes necessary to attain these goals (e.g. Vasiliki and Voulvoulis, 2020; Chankseliani and McCowan, 2021). Therefore, one of the objectives of the UN's 2030 agenda is to improve the quality of education at all levels. This means by the UN that all people should have access to life-long learning opportunities that help them to acquire knowledge and skills needed to exploit opportunities and to participate fully in society (United Nations, 2015). Participation in society also includes participation in finding solutions to preserve biodiversity and mitigate climate change. Therefore, new ideas (Wamsler, 2020) and technologies (Nowotny et al., 2018) concerning education for sustainability as a means are needed. In case of training future leaders, educators should empower them to i) recognise that social change is affected by people at all levels and through social processes and ii) understand that leadership development is about both learning new ideas and unlearning existing ones, and iii) realise that human & social capitals are more valuable than physical & financial capitals (Bendell et al., 2017). Brundiers et al. (2021) developed and studied sustainability key competencies (e.g., strategic-thinking competency, implementation competency, futures-thinking competency, integrated problem-solving, interpersonal competency) and programs at universities. There is an ongoing discussion on the right competencies and frameworks in higher education institutions to train students in sustainability competencies (Holdsworth & Sandri, 2021; Pacis & VanWynsberghe, 2020).

There is no doubt that human knowledge is the key to finding suitable solutions to these challenges (e.g., Carayannis and Campbell, 2010; Bhaskar, 2010; Carayannis et al., 2012). Besides education, the academic sector should consider improving and paving the way to create a new environmental-based economy (e.g., circular economy, economic activities that support societal change, green transition, and blue growth) by doing research and dissemination. Not only the environmental-based economy; political conflicts, climate change, and social conflicts (e.g., IPPC, 2007, UNDP, 2007, 2008) require modification of current educational/research programs or even create new ones. As a result, the academic sector represents the core helix (i.e., a driver for knowledge production and innovation) of the different innovation models. In the Triple Helix innovation model (e.g., Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff, 2000), the academic sector comes as an engine of change together with industry and governmental institutes. While in the Quadruple Helix innovation model (e.g., Carayannis and Campbell, 2009), the values of “media”, “creative industries”, “culture”, “values”, “lifestyles”, “art”, and “creative class” were added to the model as the fourth helix the ‘public’. Even when the 'natural environment component was added to the innovation models (i.e., the Quintuple Helix model; Carayannis and Campbell, 2010), the academic sector preserves the core helix of the model. Given such complexity, interdisciplinary analysis of sustainability requires an in-depth study of interactions between different factors and stakeholders.

Moreover, the academic sector works as a hub for creating technologies that are required to implement the transformation. Monitoring biodiversity (e.g. Masaki, 2022), measuring the emission of CO2 & greenhouse gases (e.g. Maraveas et al., 2022), analysis of satellite data (e.g., Kimothi et al., 2022) and finding creative ways to store CO2 and remove pollutants are some examples of the innovative role of the academic sector to face different challenges. These new technologies should find their ways to be included in different educational programs in order to provide students with the skills and knowledge required to pursue their careers at the boundaries between science and society. Moreover, education should be a process beyond training students with basic skills and knowledge. The education processes should give students the skills required to raise public awareness around topics and challenges of sustainable development in a community.

In the present special issue, we aim to examine the role of Higher Education Institutes as a driver of transformation to sustainable futures that considers SDGs as both interconnected and contradictory. Such a debate provides a summary of the various challenges, pathways, and prospects.

We invite projects related to EIT HEI Initiative to submit contributions to highlight the role of the initiative as a changing platform that aims to bridge the gaps between the different stakeholders in society putting HEIs as an engine of such change. Similar projects and initiatives are invited to submit contributions to highlight the needs, opportunities, and challenges facing such institutional change.

Submissions are welcome from a wide range of theoretical, methodological, and empirical approaches. Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

  1. Governance and Higher Education Institutes mechanisms when implementing the SDGs, including for example awareness raising and education transformation.
  2. The identification of the challenges in the field of sustainability that are necessary to address using triple, quadruple or quintuple helix innovation models.
  3. The links between the drivers, barriers, and enablers of innovation and the ecosystem in a circular or green economy.
  4. Assessment of existing research projects in the field of sustainability concerning the actual impact on stakeholders and the existing challenges that need to be considered further.
  5. Analysis of the promising factors of transformative innovations that lead to beneficial impacts in the field of sustainability at companies, in politics, education and society.
  6. The role of academic education on the advancement of technologies and topics e.g. big data and artificial intelligence for sustainable development, blue growth, or green transition.
  7. The role of academic education in increasing awareness of challenges related to SDGs including environmental-related challenges.
  8. Ways and possibilities of communication for the involvement and integration of different stakeholders, e.g. via media coverage or via networks.
  9. Analysis of the impact factors in the sustainability area with regard to the measurement of the impact and with regard to the different time horizons.


Submission and review process:

Authors are invited to contact the Guest Editors should they want to suggest a theme of inquiry or validate whether a research topic falls within the scope of the call for papers. The closing for submissions to this special issue is 30 April 2023. Papers will be published online once they are accepted. It is anticipated that the full special issue will be published in September 2023.

Submitted papers will be assessed in line with SAMPJ’s objectives, originality, novelty, the amalgamation of related literature, methodology, and theoretical background. Predominantly papers will be selected based on their contributions to advancing understanding of the sustainability research field. Full papers will be subject to the SAMPJ standard double-blind review process. 

All submissions should be made through the Emerald Editorial System for Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal: Submissions must adhere to the format and style guidelines of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal:

Submissions will be subject to an initial screening by the Guest editors of the special issue and papers which fall outside the scope of the special issue, or which are considered unlikely to be suitable for the special issue will be desk rejected. The remaining papers will then be subject to double-blind refereeing. There is no submission fee. All accepted papers must have originality in their contributions and have attained the high standards of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal.

Any queries or enquiries about the special issue should be directed to any of the guest editors at the following addresses:

Tamer Abu-Alam

UiT The Arctic University of Norway - Norway

[email protected]


Vera Helene Hausner

UiT The Arctic University of Norway - Norway

[email protected]


Verena Liszt-Rohlf

University of Applied Sciences of Burgenland - Austria

[email protected]



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