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From Talloires to Turin: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Declarations for Sustainability in Higher Education
Paul Sylvestre 1 , Rebecca McNeil 1 , Tarah Wright 2
1  School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada
2  Environmental Programs, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada

Published: 25 March 2013 by MDPI in Sustainability
MDPI, Volume 5; 10.3390/su5041356
Abstract: Declarations for sustainability in higher education are often seen as a set of guiding principles that aid institutions of higher learning to incorporate the concept of sustainability into their various institutional dimensions. As the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development draws to a close and in the shadow of the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, it seems appropriate to re-evaluate how these declarations have changed over the past two decades. In this study, we apply critical discourse analysis to examine how sustainability and the university are socio-politically constructed within these documents. Our analysis uncovers evidence of ideological assumptions and structures that are potentially misaligned with notions of sustainability often discussed in the Sustainability in Higher Education (SHE) literature. It is not the purpose of this study to provide a definitive reading of the documents, but rather to ply a novel critical lens to help elucidate how some taken-for-granted assumptions present in the declarations may work against their stated goals.
Keywords: critical discourse analysis, sustainability, Higher education, declarations
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