Terms of reference

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Sustainability in Tertiary Education in New Zealand (STENZ)

Terms of Reference

STENZ is a working group dedicated to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development across all tertiary education in New Zealand


In 2014, all New Zealand tertiary graduates will understand the principles, values, and practices of strong sustainability.


1. To ensure graduates have the capability to embed sustainability principles, values and practices in their lifestyle and profession.

2. To enable the embedding of sustainability principles, values and practices into all tertiary education programmes.

3. To create opportunities for research in the sustainability domain, including education for sustainability that enhances curricula and pedagogy.

4. To support tertiary education providers in creating an institutional context that encourages sustainability thinking, policies and practices.


STENZ scope is limited to tertiary education providers in New Zealand – and in the first instance its focus is on public providers (i.e. universities, polytechnics and wananga).

Recognising the many avenues for embedding sustainability in tertiary education, for example (curriculum; research; policy; operations; campus community and wider community engagement). STENZ focus is predominately on promoting a systems perspective, with a particular focus on learning (curriculum and student research). STENZ acknowledges existing actors in the operations space; however it seeks to maximise opportunities where operations impacts student learning.

Modus operandi

STENZ aims to provide a whole-of-sector approach to Education for Sustainability. It is made up of people who have leadership roles in the sector and provides a focal point for their work. As such, STENZ has an advocacy, championing and networking role that both leverages off, and energises the work within individual institutions. It provides an opportunity for dialogue and collaboration, creating linkages for institutions working in similar spaces.


As part of the strategic plan for the UN DESD in New Zealand, a forum was held in November 2008 to engage New Zealand tertiary educators on possible avenues for implementing sustainability. Volunteers were initially sought from across the sector to establish a working group to develop specific plans.

The working group recognises that it may not be representative of all institutions, but remains small to maintain momentum and practicable working arrangements. The group will engage with and collaborate with a wider group of stakeholders.

The vision of "In 2014, all NZ tertiary graduates..." refers to those students starting their programmes in 2014.

Guiding Principles

In line with the Strategic Plan for the NZ UNDESD, STENZ seeks to:

  • Generate a sense of urgency, purpose and commitment in relation to education for sustainability
  • Celebrate and demonstrate the value of cultural diversity
  • Mainstream sustainable development and human rights principles
  • Incorporate principles of The Treaty of Waitangi
  • Support existing education for sustainability programmes in NZ.


Samuel Mann, Chair (Otago Polytechnic)

Pam Williams (Victoria University of Wellington)

Hilary Branthwaite (Tertiary Education Commission)

Kate Hewson (University of Canterbury)

Kate Kearins (Auckland University of Technology)

Jonathon Hannon and Terry Kelly (Massey University)

Rex Verity (Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology)

Carol Boyle (University of Auckland)

Kari Adams (Sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand)


Within STENZ, decisions are made largely by consensus among attending members. If required, a majority vote decides the outcome. In the event of split decision, the chair has the deciding vote.

While STENZ originated from a SANZ initiative, the group acts autonomously in its day-to-day operations. STENZ consults with SANZ ahead of taking major steps to ensure alignment with broader NZ UNDESD objectives. SANZ provision of consultative and administrative support to STENZ is acknowledged.


Tertiary education providers, staff and students, Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Vice-Chancellors Committee (NZVCC), Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), SANZ, New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS), research funders, industry training organisations and individual sustainability advocates across the sector.


All members provide time and expertise on a voluntary basis.

STENZ seeks funding on an as-required basis. All funding applications are signed by the Chair or nominee after consultation with SANZ.

Information sharing'

Information is shared via Wiki Educator http://www.wikieducator.org/Sustainabilty_in_Tertiary_Education_in_New_Zealand

The Wiki is used to encourage participation by all members and is maintained by the chair that has overriding authority to veto contributions.

Working Streams

  1. Advocacy and liaison: engagement with stakeholders to raise awareness of new graduate attributes required for meeting future global changes
  2. Benchmarking: understanding what is happening now, focussing on curriculum, leverage and benchmarking, identification of best practice, student demand, gap analysis, Building understandings, staff and student research
  3. Capacity building: Facilitate the development of frameworks for integration of EfS. Identification and promotion of innovative practices. Disseminate through showcase, liaison with professional development.

Work Schedule

Mar 09 Jun 09 Sep 09 Dec 09 Mar 10 Jun 10 Sep 10 Dec 10
Institutional liaison x x x x x x x
Curriculum audit x x x x
Student research x x
Promotion of best practices x x
Education policy x x
Student groups and networks x x