Purpose: There is a perceived need to develop approaches, methods and tools that may help higher education institutions to systematically introduce the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into research and teaching as an intrinsic part of their programs. It seems that the core of the sustainability curricula comprises a paradigm shift that is not only reflected in university teaching but also permeates the entire institution. This paper investigates the big ideas which could orient and accelerate this paradigm shift.
Method: Among 112 articles, 77 articles were selected according to inclusion criteria. The MAXQDA software was used for extracting the big ideas. During the analysis, the included studies were investigated and coded. Afterwards, the themes that had emerged among the studies were highlighted. Once themes were identified and defined, the similar and related categories into the theme that best described the purpose of study were adopted and ultimately the big ideas were defined
Findings: The findings suggest seven big ideas; Namely: whole system change & collective capacity, whole person learning, truly integrative curriculum, whole institutional approach, resolute leadership & strategic planning, intelligent accountability & wisdom.
Conclusion: This paper suggests a process-oriented collaborative approach toward SD change in HEIs which could help leaders and policy-makers adopt appropriate orientation toward strategic planning and acting. The scientific contribution of this paper value lies in the fact that this is one of the first papers to mention the need for procedural big ideas which caters to a more systematic integration of the SDGs in university programs.