Role of HEIs in Fostering The Green Entrepreneurial Mind-set. Stefan cel Mare University (Romania) activities and the Role of ILCA project

Sustainable development is one of the most important challenges facing our generation at the present moment. Institutions of higher education are, first and foremost, necessary for the process of developing a more sustainable future. HEIs plays an important role to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to tackle difficult issues related to environmental sustainability.

A green entrepreneurial mind-set starts with the right set of beliefs, values, and practices that guide entrepreneurs in creating and managing businesses that are environmentally and socially responsible. It’s about recognizing the interconnectedness of business, society, and the environment and striving to create positive impacts for all three.

Ștefan cel Mare University from Suceava, Romania has embarked on a journey towards a greener mindset and practices, aiming to reduce its environmental impact and promote sustainability throughout its operations. This commitment is reflected in the university’s strategic plan, which outlines a series of initiatives to foster a more environmentally conscious campus and community.

Key initiatives for green transformation at USV:

Efficient energy management: USV is implementing energy-saving measures across its campuses, including LED lighting, modern heating and cooling systems, and smart metering devices. These efforts aim to reduce the university’s energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainable waste management: USV is transitioning towards a circular economy model for waste management, prioritizing waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. The university has installed waste sorting stations, composting facilities, and recycling bins to encourage responsible waste disposal practices among its staff and students.

Green procurement: USV is incorporating environmental criteria into its procurement policies, favouring products and services with minimal environmental impact and high sustainability standards. This approach extends to the procurement of building materials, furniture, and operational supplies.

Campus greening: USV is enhancing its landscaping with native plant species and implementing green infrastructure projects, such as rainwater harvesting systems and green roofs. These initiatives promote biodiversity, improve air quality, and reduce the urban heat island effect.

Sustainable transportation: USV is encouraging sustainable transportation options among its staff and students, promoting cycling and walking through dedicated bike paths, secure bike parking, and carpooling initiatives. The university is also exploring the possibility of electric vehicle charging stations.

Collaboration and partnerships: USV is collaborating with local environmental organizations, research institutions, and businesses to share knowledge, expertise, and resources for sustainable practices. These partnerships foster innovation and accelerate the transition to a greener campus and community.

But, the change starts with education – Environmental education and awareness: USV is incorporating environmental education into its curriculum, offering courses and workshops on sustainability, climate change, and environmental protection. The university is also organizing events and campaigns to raise awareness among its community about environmental issues and the importance of individual and collective action.

Entrepreneurship study programs must satisfy modern needs and comply with the current peculiarities of the business-creation process, such as turning towards green business, environment protection, circular economy, and sustainable development.

The personal engagement of the teaching staff and motivation of students, their understanding of the mindset of entrepreneurs, self-efficacy, enthusiasm, willingness to take a risk, and proactive approach are important for this process.

One positive aspect is the presence of a well-developed infrastructure at every university. USV has a well-established infrastructure that includes Research Laboratories and centers (INCUBAF – business incubator). Thanks to the ILCA project, we were able to expand our facilities by adding a new Laboratory focused on Climate Change and Innovation. The idea is to keep things straightforward– BE SUSTAINABLE will prioritize sustainability and focus on two main areas: sustainable tourism and digitalisation. The approach for “Digital transformation” starts with the fact that digital transformation is not only about technology itself but also about shifting organizational culture and how people work and interact with each other and (also with customers). It is an ongoing process that can be tailored to the specific needs and goals of each company or organization. Digital transformation involves major changes in process and work systems and it is interlinked with the green transition towards a zero carbon economy.

The digital transformation of companies aims to streamline processes and thus increase the efficiency of a company’s economic activities, leveraging data to make better decisions, adopting new business models geared towards sustainability, fostering communications and collaboration, and creating more tailored and green products.

The approach to sustainable tourism begins with recognising the significance of preserving cultural heritage. This preservation not only brings economic benefits to the local community, such as job creation and increased income, but also helps to revive heritage tourism and support small businesses in rural areas. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in the transfer and maintenance of craftsmanship skills.

Therefore, the “Stefan cel Mare” University of Suceava has crafted a course that combines local traditions from Bucovina with the SDGs objective assumed by the UN. The reuse of abandoned buildings or old traditional houses is fundamental not only for reviving communities and improving quality of life but also for educating people on the importance of responsible consumption and using eco-friendly materials to build houses that can foster energy efficiency.

The transition to a green economy is not just an environmental imperative; it also presents a tremendous opportunity for businesses to thrive while doing good for the planet and society. Embracing a green entrepreneurial mindset is a proactive approach to sustainability, innovation, and long-term success.

The green transformation efforts at USV are not just about reducing the university’s environmental footprint but also about promoting environmental awareness, education, and responsible practices among its students, staff, and the wider community. By adopting a green mindset, USV is setting an example for a more sustainable future for higher education institutions.

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