Sustainable University: Beyond the Third Mission


  • Jurgis Kazimieras Staniškis



Higher education, especially nowadays, is subject to endless discussions and substantial reforms of performance management in universities across the world. The roots of the modern university go back 1,000 years to the University of Paris, where the unique aim was education and training. This was the first mission realised in the context of the Catholic Church. The way and the form of the modern university development throughout history has always been influenced by social triggers. The trigger for the second mission of research was Humboldt who led to the establishment of the University of Berlin in 1810 (Trencher et al., 2014). The major catalyst of the third mission and the university role of technology transfer was the emergence of an independent relationship between science, industrial innovation and government policy leading to the so-called ‘knowledge-based’ economy. With the new mission, managerialism entered the university with performance management as its integral part. Traditionally, performance management in universities has had a development role, i.e. helping individuals to improve their (future) performance. However, the new system is more judgemental, i.e. seeking to qualitatively evaluate (past) performance. There is a danger that the new system could inhibit creativity and anxiety about how the systems are used (Bogt and Scapens, 2012). Yet, the emergence of global entrepreneurial approach is not the last step in the ever-evolving modern university. There are many good examples, where co-creative partnership for sustainability is implemented, which is fundamentally different from conventional third mission activities.

The paper analyses the way in which new performance systems are applied and their results and presents a case of co-creation for sustainability at the Institute of Environmental Engineering (APINI) at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU). It shows that the missions of education, research and technology transfer are able to potentially co-exist with co-creation for sustainability and complement the first three missions at a sustainable university.