Reach out and touch: student training community projects for sustainability a case study

Ilona E. De Hooge*, Ynte K. van Dam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: As one of the five concrete actions recommended for implementing sustainable development at universities (internal operations, institutional framework, research, education and capacity building), capacity building has received the least research attention. Although capacity building can be a tangible implementation of outreach that offers empowerment to universities, it is currently unclear how capacity building can be operationalised in concrete activities and which parties represent the university and the community. The purpose of this study is to provide the idea that capacity building can be organised through student training projects. Design/methodology/approach: To provide support for our suggestion that student training projects can act as an implementation method for capacity building, an illustrative case study is presented. The case study concerns an academic consultancy training project for students in the domain of sustainable development. Findings: The case study analysis reveals that, as an implementation method, student training projects can provide benefits for both universities and communities. It appears that student training projects do not depend on individual engagement, on individual university staff members or on research grants and that they provide community members with access to resources, expertise and experiences of academics. Moreover, student training projects overcome the major challenges of both power distance and continuity. Originality/value: To summarise, student training projects may provide a new, promising avenue as an implementation method for capacity building that provides substantial benefits and overcomes the challenges of other methods mentioned in the existing literature.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2019


  • Academic outreach
  • Capacity building
  • Case study
  • Empowerment
  • Student training projects
  • Sustainability


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