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Strategic Environmental Assessment in higher education: Portuguese and Brazilian cases

Ramos, Tomás B., Montaño, Marcelo, Joanaz de Melo, J., Souza, Marcelo P., Lemos, Clara Carvalho de, Domingues, Ana Rita, Polido, Alexandra
Journal of cleaner production 2015 v.106 pp. 222-228
curriculum, decision making, decision support systems, educational institutions, educational research, environmental assessment, environmental education, higher education, issues and policy, laws and regulations, planning, surveys, sustainable development, Brazil, Portugal
Environmental Impact Assessment is well established in higher education worldwide, with a history going back to the 1970s. In contrast, the teaching and training of Strategic Environmental Assessment is a relatively novel, less consolidated and implanted, but of growing importance as a decision support tool in planning and policy. Therefore, training needs in this domain have grown accordingly, demanding new answers from higher education institutions. Despite the existence of relevant work on sustainability in higher education, and on impact assessment education, there is a dearth of research on education of environmental assessment approaches for strategic levels of decision making. The goal of this research paper is to characterize the profile of Strategic Environmental Assessment in higher education in two distinct situations; Portugal and Brazil. Surveys were conducted to assess Strategic Environmental Assessment integration in their higher education institutions' curricula. Bachelor and masters' programmes and course curricula were analysed through a content analysis based approach. The main results showed a medium state of integration for Strategic Environmental Assessment, while stressing that it is still an unconsolidated area. These results also emphasized that there is a need to discuss the design of Strategic Environmental Assessment specialized courses that respond to societal needs, rethinking the impact assessment educational initiatives and approaches. The integration of this assessment instrument in curricula could have significant implications for the enhancement of higher education practices for sustainable development, by promoting better assessment and management of strategies, policies, legislation, plans and programmes and the decision-making processes involved.