Sustainable Development Goals at Universities: A Case Study on how Discourse Shapes the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda at Copenhagen Business School

Anca Patricia Dinu & Julia Posch

Student thesis: Master thesis


In an effort to address the global challenges the world is facing, the UN formulated 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SD). These are universally applicable and intended to be mainstreamed by all stakeholders of society (United Nations, 2017). Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are the primary educators of society and play a vital role for a sustainable future. One such institution officially committed to mainstream the SDGs is the renowned Danish university Copenhagen Business School (CBS), which has been chosen as case for this thesis. This research aims to understand how discourse shapes the implementation of the SDGs in the context of CBS. A combination of Discourse Theory by Laclau and Mouffe (1985, 2014) and Critical Discourse Analysis by Fairclough (1989, 1991, 1993, 2001) enabled us to understand the relation between linguistic interaction and the social context. Our findings reveal that the dynamics of discourse prevent the SDGs from being mainstreamed at CBS. We discuss that the different perceptions have strong and diverse implications for praxis and that the main barriers for integrating the SDGs are decentralization, academic freedom, communication, and the lack of support structure. We suggest that for HEIs to incorporate the SDGs, it requires a university-wide approach to change.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Diversity and Change Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages216
SupervisorsOleg Koefoed