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The Role of Universities for the Development of Human Capabilities in the Sustainable World: Evidence from Italy

Published onJun 26, 2023
The Role of Universities for the Development of Human Capabilities in the Sustainable World: Evidence from Italy
Varriale L.1,*, Briganti P.2, Volpe T.3,

1University of Naples “Parthenope”, Department of Economics, Law, Cybersecurity, and Sports Sciences, Nola (NA), Italy; 2University of Naples “Parthenope”, Department of Sport Sciences and Wellbeing, Naples, Italy;
3 CNR-ISMed - Istituto di Studi sul Mediterraneo, Naples, Italy.
 *[email protected]


Universities, due to their main functions to perform, such as teaching and training, research, and collaboration with the external community, find themselves taking on a crucial role in promoting the development of human capabilities for a sustainable world, where they act to improve and promote a culture of total social inclusion and sustainability values inside and outside their organizations. Therefore, Universities play an elective role in the process of promoting and disseminating human capabilities in the sustainability perspective, providing the tools and practices, and the knowledge and enriching the skills needed to overcome any obstacle and/or barrier that prevents the acceptance and absolute domination of a culture of inclusion in any organizational context, especially in the workplace, the respect of the nature and environment in general, the research and application of sustainable business models according to effectiveness, efficiency and equity criteria. This exploratory study aims to investigate university organizations by adopting the multiple case study methodology and using secondary data. The study provides a portrait of Italian public and private universities by highlighting their strategies and initiatives for developing human capabilities in the sustainable world following two guidelines: university as a working environment which performs for employees engagement in sustainability initiatives (presence of sustainable policies, e.g., policies for supporting categories of workers with disabilities, environmental solutions, their own business organizational models, disability management policies, presence of women in governance bodies, work life balance policies, etc.); university as a higher education institution (dedicated training courses, active projects, courses on disability management, courses on sustainability issues, etc.).


Human capabilities, higher education, sustainability, social inclusion, sustainable policies. 


Faced with the unsustainability of our planet, defined by Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General, as "our common home," 193 countries adopted in September 2015 the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development, containing 17 Goals, 169 targets and more than 240 statistical indicators, to be achieved by 2030 (UN 2030 Agenda).

The UN 2030 Agenda represents a universal programmatic action for the pursuit of inclusive, universal, integrated, locally focused, and technology-driven development to make the most of the opportunities of the era in which we live, especially those derived from advances in information and communication technologies, and to address the equal number of existing challenges, from climate change to technological innovation, to gender equality and social inclusion.

The implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda and the concretization of its goals require the mobilization of businesses, institutions, and civil societies all committed to ensuring an inclusive and sustainable Planet for future generations. To do this, signatory countries were asked to plan a national strategy, the result of the process of declining the International Agenda from global to local, which would consider the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, environmental, and social) and that was supported by integrated action at the local, national, and international levels. For this reason, on December 22, 2017, the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (SNSvS), a strategic program for Italy, was approved by CIPE, as well as the first step in declining the International Goals at the national level.

To achieve the 17 SDGs it is necessary to focus the attention on the human capabilities, recognizing the crucial role of human resources for promoting and implementing sustainable business models, where human resources play a double role as internal stakeholders who benefit of sustainable programs and actions (training, welfare, gender equity, social inclusion, health and safety, etc.) and as intermediaries between organizations and all the external stakeholders for implementing sustainable programs and actions. Hence, human resources, as internal and external stakeholders, have been recognized as key actor for promoting and implementing sustainable business models, consequently, scholars and practitioners tend to pay and increasing attention to HRM practices and solutions for implementing sustainability (Ayuso et al., 2011; Ketata et al., 2015; Buller & McEvoy, 2016; Upward & Willard, 2017; Hamadamin & Atan, 2019; Alvino et al., 2020; Anwar et al., 2020).

In this direction, over the past three decades, the academic community has shown a growing interest in issues attributable to sustainable development, because of the diffusion by organizations of behaviors and actions marked by socio-environmental responsibility logics and the use of accountability tools that allow them to account to their stakeholders for their commitment to the pursuit of sustainability goals (CRUI, 2019a, 2019b, 2019c; Chankseliani & McCowan, 2021; RUS, 2021). Universities have simultaneously begun to play a role as agents and subjects of change, respectively, through the promotion of research and training courses for developing human capabilities in the economic, social and environmental sustainability perspective, and the internal definition and implementation especially of policies on waste and mobility management (analysis and improvement of home-university-home transportation of faculty and students) and inclusion of employees and students with disabilities and special needs (Sibbel, 2009; Purcell et al., 2019; Markauskaite et al., 2023).

Given their functions in the economic and social context in which they operate, universities have been called upon to adopt a different approach toward sustainability than other organizations (Sibbel, 2009; Walker, 2012; Zamora-Polo & Sànchez-Martìn, 2019). The core activities of universities are represented by teaching, research, and the development of socially useful links with the territory (Third Mission); hence they have found themselves playing an elective role in the development of human capabilities in the process of spreading the logic of sustainability.

This exploratory study aims to investigate the Italian Universities trying to outline their specific role and function in promoting human capabilities for a sustainable world adopting a double lens of reading the phenomenon where human resources have been central and considered both as internal (inside the university organization) and external stakeholders (outside the university organization) considering the idea of proposing new business models for a sustainable world in the stakeholder theory perspective (Freudenreich et al., 2020).

 Literature review about sustainability-embedding strategies in higher education institutions:
the Italian Universities practices

Education plays a central role for the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs): one stand-alone goal is dedicated to education (SDG4). Eisler and colleagues (2016) consider the universities the “elected” areas to transform individuals and society, orientating young people to develop the knowledge and the competencies that civic sensed citizens need to live sustainably, at subjective, professional, and community levels, through  concrete sustainable practices in classrooms, and in daily campus operations (Sonetti et al., 2019; Sonetti et al., 2016).

Education for sustainability (EfS) should suggest an alternate way of living (Carter, 2012; Ferreira et al., 2019), according to Evans which defines sustainability as “a set of lifeways, lived within specific historical circumstances. Within these life-ways, considerations of the long-term equilibrium of health and integrity remain the central focus for communities” (Evans, 2012).

The literature about universities strategies and practices to develop a culture of engagement with SDGs implementation is moving the beginning steps.

Some authors are identifying how universities are taking actions to embrace the SDGs within their organizations (Spangenberg et al., 2017), such as Aikens and colleagues’s review (Aikens et al., 2016), which explores geographic and methodological trends of EfS and, contemporary, elaborate qualitative content-based analysis on the subject. The few empirical articles found by the authors highlights teaching and learning programs, and policy development and implementation of the EfS within higher educational institutions. 

Filho and colleagues (2019) collect A worldwide survey analysing 167 questionnaires around the world on the SDGs and sustainability teaching at universities: most of the participants declared to have some knowledge about the SDGs and agreed with their integration at higher education institutions thorough institutional engagement and the enactment of specific teaching programs, despite the results of the survey showed low levels of application of broader SDGs as key course content, curriculum contents, assessment programs.

According to these results, Lozano and colleagues (2014) show that the implementation of sustainability in higher educational institutions has been compartmentalized and not integrated within the whole institutions, through a survey with 87 respondents by 70 higher educational insitutions throughout the world engaged in sustainability efforts at different levels: institutional framework, education, research, collaboration, campus life experiences, and assessment and reporting.

Universities are considered as significant contributors to develop sustainability education initiatives, but they struggle to implement the new paradigms of EfS into shared practices (Wemmenhove & de Groot, 2001; Boks & Diehl, 2006) to generate new generations of leaders and local actors, to contribute to the promotion of sustainability in the socio-technical systems, into the management of large scale portions of cities (e.g., buildings, laboratories, dormitories), in which sustainability principles could be practised, and sustainability literate students could be provided with sustainability skills (Lozano, 2010),  but the way to apply the changes is unclear.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Australia/Pacific (2017), to promote solutions, policies and public education for sustainable development, propose six ways in which universities can contribute to sustainable development (SD): including SD into all undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as graduate research training (Filho et al., 2019; Pallant et al., 2020), delivering training on SD to all curriculum developers, course coordinators and professors (Ferreira et al., 2019; Albareda-Tiana et al., 2020); offering executive education and capacity building courses for external stakeholders based on SD (Kolb et al., 2017); defending the implementation of national and public education policies that support education for SD (Disterheft et al., 2016; Jorge et al., 2015); involving students in the co-creation of learning environments that sustain learning on SD (Mulder et al., 2015; Mawonde & Togo, 2019); developing courses directed to real-world collaborative projects for change (Bammer et al., 2020).

Recently, in Italy it has been created the Italian Network for Sustainable Universities (RUS, 2020),  according with the 74% of all the Italian universities (actually 68, continuously growing), recognised by the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) in July 2015, perfectly aligned with the SDGs implementation, to coordinate the actions of all universities engaged for a more sustainable future.

RUS is articulated in six working groups on the following topics: climate change, education, energy, food, mobility and waste, to be declinated in higher educational practical operations and educational offering. RUS collaborates with important national associations, such as AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) (AIESEC, 2020) and ASviS (Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development) (ASviS, 2020).

Firstly, from 2016-to 2019, RUS organized a national call to identify and collect the best practices in Education for Sustainability in the Italian educational system, through  semi-structured survey about which strategies have been applied.

Sonetti and colleagues (2020), selected 18 case studies analyzed thorugh the cited RUS national call for best practice in Sustainability Education. The authors scheduled the activities identified thorugh the national call according to declared goals and approaches, searching on archival data and institutional websites information about number of students, european funds, declared sustainable initiatives, etc. They constructed a matrix with two variables: macro-areas of institutional change strategies toward SD, and methods/approaches found in the literature review, to collected, systematised and reorganised declared and inferred data, finally producing a map illustrating the actual structure of the Italian educational system in terms of education for sustainability, not referring to the details of particular programmes of a specific athenaeum, but to the most common characteristics of the Italian programmes.

Within the Italian Universities, the predominant mission has been represented by  teaching, and the primry driver by top-down process, in the most part of SDGs educational initiatives. Furthermore, sustainability has been considered as a separate discipline inserted into existing teachings, and as a conceptual societal challenge explored in workshops and fieldworks.


This exploratory study adopts a multiple case study as the research method using secondary data sources. Starting from a review of the main contributions in literature and practice and adopting a qualitative methodology, this study provides an in-depth look at the strategies, policies and initiatives introduced in Italian universities for the development of human capabilities in the perspective of sustainability.

Such empirical analysis provides an overview of the sample Italian universities, exploring their role and function in developing human capabilities for promoting sustainability. According to Yazan (2015) and Yin (2015), this multiple case study approach allows us to achieve descriptive purposes. In fact, it addresses the description of the current state of the degree of involvement and responsibility of higher education in making the world much more sustainable focusing on the development of human capabilities.

The sample of Italian universities was constituted using the Universitaly website, the portal of the Ministry of Universities and Research (MUR), an online platform that allows the collection of all useful information regarding the universities operating on the Italian territory with their educational offerings and referrals through links available to their official websites and all their existing communication channels. The portal provides a summary sheet for each university highlighting its size (mega, large, medium, and small), nature (state, non-state, telematics) and geographical area of reference (North, South, Center, Islands). Sampling was, therefore, carried out through the Universitaly portal by selecting only universities that met the chosen criteria, namely "presence in the Universitaly portal, ANVUR-MUR accreditation, and website presence."

We conducted a manual content analysis of all documentation; precisely secondary data were considered. The framework of strategies, policies and initiatives promoted and implemented by the Italian universities investigated was built by collecting and processing information and data through reports (MUR, Istat, etc.), analysis of archival data, university documentation, university websites, university social network sites (SNS), press and journals, focusing on issues related to human capabilities and sustainability.

We identified and investigated all strategies, policies and initiatives promoted and introduced by the analyzed universities to outline their overall involvement in developing human capabilities in the sustainability perspective.

Accordingly, we constructed a portrait of Italian universities following two distinct directions: 1. University which develops and supports human capabilities creating a sustainable work environment through an internal analysis of the organization in order to identify and investigate strategies, policies, and initiatives to promote and spread sustainability within the structure for teaching and non-teaching staff and students; 2. University as a higher education institution which develops and supports human capabilities in the sustainability perspective through the investigation of dedicated training programs, active projects, courses on disability management, gender diversity management policies, and so forth.

 Results and Discussion

The sample analyzed consists of 94 universities; 62 are state (public) universities and 19 non-state (private) universities, 12 are telematic universities and 1 university for foreigners. Universities tend to play the role of agents and subjects of change, respectively through the promotion of research and training courses for the development of human capabilities with a view to economic, social, and environmental sustainability. In recent years, especially starting from 2015 with the introduction of the UN Agenda 2030, Italian universities have shown growing attention towards sustainability issues, trying to promote and implement initiatives and policies to make their organization sustainable and to stimulate and educate to sustainability. Universities promote the culture of sustainable development in all their institutional activities, teaching, and research. The main lines of activities promoted and implemented by universities with a view to sustainability can be traced back to four areas of competence: 1) promotion of responsible research 2) environmental sustainability, 3) international cooperation, 4) equal opportunities (Varriale et al., 2022).

At national level, the CRUI - Conference of Italian University Rectors - during the General Assembly of 21 July 2016 officially approved the agreement for the establishment of the Network, the RUS - Network of Universities for Sustainable Development. This is the first experience of coordination and sharing among all the Italian universities involved in the issues of environmental sustainability and social responsibility. The main purpose of the Network is to disseminate the culture and good practices of sustainability, both inside and outside the universities (at an urban, regional, national, and international level), in order to increase the positive impacts in environmental terms, ethical, social and economic aspects of the actions implemented by members of the Network ( In our analysis, only 12 universities are not registered in the sustainability network, 1 is state, 7 are online and 4 are non-state, and these are mainly small and medium-sized universities located in central Italy. Only 34 universities have a specific figure, such as delegate, pro-dean, or adviser to the Dean, who is entrusted with the function linked to the sustainability area. This figure is mainly present in mega, large, and medium-sized universities. On an international level, however, the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) is an international network in support of universities, thanks to which it is possible to exchange information, ideas, and good practices to implement sustainable interventions on campuses and integrate sustainability into research and in teaching. Many universities organize days entirely dedicated to sustainability to raise awareness and inform the university population and the local community on sustainable development issues, with reference to the objectives of the 2030 Agenda. Cà Foscari University has launched the 'Sustainable Ca' Foscari' program. The project deals with promoting sustainability within all the University's activities with study courses, at various levels, focused on the issues of environmental, social and economic sustainability. The sustainability skills, included in the study plan, allow the acquisition of 1 extra-curricular credits and a certificate at the time of graduation. At the LUM "Giuseppe Degennaro" online university, the single-cycle master's degree course in Medicine and Surgery has instituted the course: Health and sustainability of the health system, Management of Sustainability and Natural Resources. Or the International Telematic University Uninettuno which has programmed a degree course in urban planning and sustainability. Among the many courses available, we find a degree course for the protection of nature and environmental sustainability, a free online course on introduction to sustainability, sustainable finance and the role of law, and a course in Green Economy & Sustainable Energy". The I.U.S.S. - Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori has instituted a Phd in Sustainable Development and Climate Change – and a Phd in international policies for sustainability. The Unitelma Sapienza Online University has set up a higher education school on sustainability and the circular economy. The University of Naples Federico II, in collaboration with the Polytechnic of Turin, have set up a new master's degree course in Industrial Chemistry for Circular and Bio Economy in English, thus characterizing itself as a course of international value. The new "PoliMI Ambassador in Inclusivity Design" advanced training course has been active since this year, training new experts with multidisciplinary skills to guide the transformation of organizations towards sustainability, which will be born thanks to these academic proposals. It aims to create new professional figures who have both advanced skills in specific areas (inclusivity/green/smart), and a high degree of systemic skills, interdisciplinary vision, digital skills, attention to innovation and streamlining of processes.

The University of Cassino and Southern Lazio has set up a "Committee for Sustainable Development, which intends to apply an integrated approach, of a transdisciplinary nature, aimed at the transformation and development of social responsibilities. The Committee pursues the elaboration and transmission of knowledge, combining research, teaching and Third Mission in an organic and coherent way, in view of scientific, cultural, civil, social and economic progress. The Committee has the priority of setting up research groups to study the integration of sustainability objectives. (

With a view to environmental sustainability, universities have activated numerous projects. The University of Bergamo has operated on three fronts: university premises, places, and spaces where academic activities take place; inside and outside the University, it invites everyone, students, professors and university staff, to adopt sustainable behaviors, through research laboratories that work on green initiatives every day, the abolition of disposable plastic, the use of public transport and bicycles compared to cars and mopeds. The University of Bergamo has provided 16 drinking water dispensers with the aim of reducing the use of plastic; university merchandising, in addition to offering a catalog full of useful and excellent quality objects, is made up of recycled and recyclable materials. The LUISS Guido Carli university has installed a mains water dispenser (still and sparkling water) to enhance the use of public drinking water, thus reducing the environmental impact deriving from PET bottles ( The University of Catania promotes equitable development and facilitates access to university studies also for prisoners, foresees initiatives from a plastic-free perspective (drinking water dispensers), has launched an Action Plan for the environmental sustainability of services and supplies ( Ca' Foscari University has promoted the 'Orto in Campus' project, which aims to make students aware of sustainability practices, through the rediscovery and application of an approach to agriculture that explores and respects the functions ecological aspects of a small agro-ecosystem. The university also adopts plastic-free policies by providing students with metal water bottles, carafes and glasses in all the main meetings and a sustainable catering service that eliminates single-use plastic. The University annually draws up its own Sustainability Report in which it presents the results to its stakeholders. (

Almost 40% of the universities analyzed are implementing studies on sustainable mobility. This is the case of the Vanvitelli University and the Milan Polytechnic which have joined "U-MOB LIFE", a European project financed by the LIFE program of the European Commission, aimed at creating a university network for the exchange of knowledge and good practices on sustainable mobility. One of the main objectives of the Politecnico di Milano is to progressively reduce the use of private cars, encouraging the use of public transport or sharing vehicles. It has also provided for: discounts for the purchase of public transport season tickets for University employees; agreements for shared mobility for the polytechnic community in the use of bike, car, scooter sharing services, bus and airport shuttle services, scooter rental and carpooling; free service of the PoliCiclo university cycle shop, founded in 2014 and entirely managed by student volunteers; installation of bike racks; redevelopment of Campuses, depraving of parking lots and reorganization of vehicle parking areas and thanks to projects such as VIVIPOLIMI9 and Renzo Piano10, and installation of new infrastructures (covered racks and columns for recharging electric vehicles); communication and awareness-raising activities through participation in events such as the European Mobility Week or the Sustainable Development Festival; networking with local authorities (Municipality of Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Lombardy Region), participation in national networks (RUS, Mobility Working Group). ( The University of Siena is part of the small group of Italian universities that signed, in 2012, as part of the Rio Conference, the Commitment on Sustainable Practices of Higher Education Institutions at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ( The University of Genoa provides, thanks to local agreements, a free bus service for UniGe freshmen and discounts for under 25s. ( The LUISS Guido Carli University offers the 'Vehicle Sharing Luiss Green Mobility' which consists of a service offered by Electric Drive Italia and dedicated to students, professors, and administrative staff of the University. The University of Bergamo has promoted the 'Life in the university' project, to promote forms of sustainable mobility through various initiatives. For example, by making an agreement, making UniBg teachers and staff use electric bikes for travel from home to university and between campuses; Living labs and urban experiments which, thanks to the institution of the figure of the University Mobility Manager, make it possible to organize numerous moments of meeting with the university community and citizens to stimulate and implement ideas of sustainable mobility. Through the agreement signed between CRUI, the Marevivo Association and Conisma (National Inter-University Consortium for Marine Sciences), UniBg also adheres to the #StopSingleUsePlastic campaign.” (

Italian universities are trying to guarantee a study and work environment that respects gender identities, different abilities, cultures and origins. In our study, 59 universities have a delegate, pro-dean or a councilor to the dean dedicated to disability or inclusion. Only 33 universities have a delegate, pro-dean or a councilor to the dean who is dedicated to the area of equal opportunities. The Polytechnic of Milan is making a lot of projects, with the POP program (Equal Opportunities Politecniche) developing 5 strategic lines of action: gender identity, culture, nation and religion, sexual orientation, different abilities, and psychological well-being. The university aims to create an inclusive environment that allows students, researchers, teaching, and administrative staff to pursue their careers successfully, inside and outside the university. (

The Gender Equality Plan (GEP) represents one of the answers to the current cultural trends in terms of gender equality. Specifically, it is a tool that universities and research institutions can use to have a strategic impact on the promotion of equality between men and women, responding to the requests of the new EU Strategy 2020-2025 on the subject, which indicates the key actions to be taken for the full achievement of gender balance in all its aspects. The University of Verona establishes and promotes initiatives for the implementation of the constitutional principle of equal opportunities and the enhancement of differences. The university pays attention to working and study conditions, to well-being in carrying out activities, to the reconciliation of life and work times; to overcome barriers for disabled people. It is interesting to underline that the university has activated a "Baby University".

Many universities also carry out reception activities and offer accommodation or programs and solutions to combat all forms of discrimination. 17 Italian universities come together to launch university corridors and offer refugee students the possibility to continue their academic career in Italy. For example, the Career Alias was established to ensure and protect the privacy of gender transitioning “students”. This is provisional documentation (double booklet or alias booklet) to be used within the university while waiting for the registry correction process to be completed. In this way we want to protect all those who wish to use a name other than their personal name when interacting with the university.

Some universities, such as Sapienza University, organize Diversity Day, i.e. the career day dedicated to protected categories.

Most of the universities examined have accommodation without architectural barriers and equipped for various disabilities. The university of Trento offers the possibility of hosting a family member or a trusted person for assistance in the student residence. The university of Trento promotes participation in national and international networks aimed at developing disability policies, with particular reference to university contexts, including the National University Conference of Disability Delegates (CNUDD), the University Coordination del Triveneto for inclusion (Uni3V), which saw the university of Trento as one of the promoters of the National Conference of Equality Bodies of Italian Universities. (

The university of Rome Tor Vergata offers a psychological and sexological counseling service through the psychological counseling centre, where students are provided with psychological and psycho-aptitude guidance through interviews and psychometric assessments. In addition, the Sexological Consulting Service (SeCS Cathedra) is operational, unique in Italy, free of charge and aimed at the entire university community. (

The universities of Lombardy participate and share their experience with the CALD, the Coordination network of Lombard universities for disability. The network was set up by the Dean' Deputies in 2011 to implement university legislation more effectively in favor of the full inclusion and participation of students with disabilities and DSA to university life.

Almost all Italian universities have an internal Guarantee Committee (CUG) which aims to support the integration of gender equality in all university policies, through instruments such as the Gender and the Positive Action Plan. The intervention of the CUG becomes even more effective through the role of behavior guarantors. In particular, these guarantors promote and implement the following services and initiatives: reception services to make the university career easier for the weakest and most in difficulty categories; initiatives to promote the chosen training course; assistance services, technological aids, didactic and specialized tutoring; public selections for part-time contracts with "senior" students; initiatives to improve the working conditions of disabled personnel; the study of forms of activity aimed at improving the working conditions of personnel with dependent family members with disabilities; the monitoring of architectural barriers; relations with the CUG.

The main actions and programs promoted and implemented by universities with a view to sustainability can be traced back to the following areas of expertise: 1) social sustainability and inclusion through the support of people as part of minorities and/or with specific needs, such as students with disabilities or special educational needs; 2) environmental sustainability through the provision of specific training programs and bachelor degrees focused on the protection of the planet and the entire society (green policies, efficiency criteria for business models, etc.), as well as the adoption of solutions addressed to make the internal workplace environmentally sustainable; 3) economic sustainability through the focus on human capabilities, knowledge and competences for developing business models able to respect efficiency criteria in the perspective of the sustainable development.

The analysis conducted that briefly outlined a summary picture of Italian universities allows us to mature some considerations:

1. the majority of the universities that present policies and measures aimed at promoting sustainability in their working environment and externally tend to promote the same orientation through the development of specific human capabilities;

2. the universities with a greater orientation to inclusion and sustainability are concentrated in Northern and Central Italy going to feed the historical geographical gap that exists in the country;

3. mega, large and medium-sized universities stand out more for promoting and adopting inclusive and sustainable measures and policies thanks the major focus and their ability to develop huma capabilities in this direction;

4. the universities most sensitive to sustainability issues through specific human capabilities developed tend mainly to promote courses focused on the green economy, circular economy and environmental sustainability, still little attention is paid to targeted training on inclusion issues with courses on disability management (bachelor's or master's professionalizing courses) or on areas of social inclusion.

 Concluding remarks

This study provides a short portrait about the role and function of universities in developing human capabilities in the sustainability perspective. It allows us to be able to emphasize the need to create the conditions to activate an open comparison among Italian universities to share experiences and good practices with a view to creating sustainable organizations not only in the internal environment but also and above all by turning attention to the outside trying to clearly identify and focus on key human capabilities for a sustainable world. Indeed, there is not only a geographical and dimensional gap between universities in terms of adopting sustainable models and behaviors, promoting the development of the key human capabilities, but there is also a maturing need to promote internally at universities, as the ones exclusively responsible for the education of future generations, a process of radical change in individual and organizational culture in order to truly acquire the fundamental principles of sustainability, so as to continue this process of change externally by involving the entire community.



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