Wellbeing in Higher Education in context of UN Sustainable Development Goals


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Bengü E., Aslantaş Ateş B.

Eğitimde Kuram ve Uygulama (EKU), vol.19, no.1, pp.1-13, 2023 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 19 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Journal Name: Eğitimde Kuram ve Uygulama (EKU)
  • Journal Indexes: TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-13
  • Abdullah Gül University Affiliated: Yes

Abstract

Introduction This study examines the role of higher education institutions in relation to two Sustainable Development Goals: Health and Wellbeing, and Quality Education. It focuses on the provision of a qualified workforce and the delivery of quality education to students. The research begins with a literature review that explores the role of wellbeing in improving educational quality and the overall quality of life in higher education institutions. The study emphasizes the importance of including the concept of wellbeing in Turkish literature and presents policy recommendations for enhancing wellbeing in higher education, with a focus on the benefits for students, faculty members, and administrative staff in improving educational quality.
Concept of Wellbeing Scholarly studies in Turkiye address wellbeing using various concepts such as quality of life, welfare, and wellness in different disciplines. However, these concepts do not fully capture the holistic perspective of wellbeing. Therefore, this study uses the term "wellbeing" instead of its Turkish counterparts. Wellbeing refers to a holistic state of overall wellbeing and its sustainability. The concept of sustainability has become important due to resource depletion and increased waste. Individuals and institutions need to sustain themselves and contribute to sustainability efforts. By doing so, they can achieve the benefits of wellbeing, such as physical health, disease prevention, improved psychological functioning, hope, and resilience. Wellbeing, which includes preventive medicine protocols and a personalized approach, promotes holistic health. Holistic health is a synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, encompassing the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of individuals. Having a holistic perspective, wellbeing involves considering and maintaining the health of all aspects of an individual's being. This includes the physical, mental, and emotional bodies being healthy, which signifies holistic health and balance. Additionally, it is important for individuals to be healthy in terms of environmental, economic, and other conditions. When all these elements come together, and a state of wellbeing is achieved in each of them, the individual's overall wellbeing increases, leading to holistic health. This holistic perspective of wellbeing is also evident in studies conducted by Gallup, which have identified five universal elements that constitute wellbeing: physical, financial, career, social, and environmental wellbeing. These elements are interconnected and interact with each other. Elevating all these elements together contributes to an individual's overall wellbeing. While there is no strict distinction among these elements, it is emphasized that they should be considered together. The majority of study participants stated success in at least one of these areas, but only a small percentage expressed success in all five elements.
Wellbeing in Higher Education When examining the implications of wellbeing elements in higher education based on Gallup's classification, it becomes evident that the relationship between the three key actors in universities – faculty members, administrative staff, and students – plays a crucial role in determining wellbeing levels. While numerous studies have focused on the wellbeing and satisfaction levels of faculty members and students, the satisfaction and professional development of administrative staff have often been overlooked. It has been observed that high levels of wellbeing among faculty members and administrative staff have a positive impact on students' achievements and enhance satisfaction in their relationships with instructors. The stress and burnout experienced by faculty members and administrative staff also affect students and other individuals they interact with. Therefore, promoting wellbeing requires a collective effort within universities. Implementing programs aimed at equipping faculty members with wellbeing skills has proven effective in helping them coping with stress and create healthy learning environments for students. Similarly, providing wellbeing training to instructors has positive effects on their ability to emotionally support students and show greater sensitivity to their needs. Likewise, designing wellbeing programs and integrating wellbeing content into the curriculum for students helps them effectively cope with stress and enhance their personal wellbeing. Such practices have been observed to contribute to students' stress management and academic achievements. Institutions that embrace a wellbeing approach create a proactive and high-level wellbeing environment through positive thinking and mindful awareness. Consequently, institutions should develop comprehensive approaches to wellbeing and devise strategies that enhance the recognition of wellbeing. In this study, policy recommendations have been compiled based on recent literature, sustainability reports, and other academic studies, focusing on how wellbeing practices can be integrated into higher education. These recommendations are presented separately for faculty members, administrative staff and students. Additionally, the study includes recommendations for increasing wellbeing levels in universities.
Discussion & Conclusion The wellbeing levels of individuals involved in higher education deeply influence one another. In addition to the wellbeing of students and faculty members, the wellbeing status of administrative staff should also be taken into consideration. Supporting the wellbeing of faculty members and administrative staff through institutional training programs and in-service/professional development workshops is crucial. The wellbeing level of students is directly related to the motivation of faculty members and the job satisfaction of administrative staff. However, there is a limited number of studies investigating the effects of wellbeing practices on faculty members and administrative staff, making it important to conduct research on the wellbeing level of faculty members to understand their concerns and challenges and prevent burnout. Integrating wellbeing indirectly into the curriculum and formal education is vital. The positive mood and motivation of faculty members significantly influence the wellbeing level of students. This study aims to introduce the concept of wellbeing to the local literature and emphasizes the need to incorporate educational wellbeing into the elements of wellbeing identified by Gallup. It is acknowledged that implementing all the recommendations immediately may pose challenges. Therefore, institutions, researchers, and practitioners should be encouraged to experiment with wellbeing approaches using small participant groups and improve the process through observation.

Sürdürülebilirliğin sık duyulduğu COVID-19 pandemisiyle birlikte yaşamımıza, eskisi gibi devam etmenin akıllıca olmayacağı açıktır. Değişen dünya düzenine küresel olarak uyumlanma çabalarının arttığı bugünlerde bizden sonraki kuşakların ve gezegenimizin geleceği için çabalamalıyız; bu çalışma, tam da bu noktadan hareketle yapılmıştır. Küresel Amaçlar olarak da bilinen Sürdürülebilir Kalkınma Amaçları (SKA) 2015 yılında Birleşmiş Milletler tarafından yapılmış evrensel bir eylem çağrısıdır. Tüm insanların 2030 yılına kadar barış ve refah içinde yaşamasını sağlamak amacıyla on yedi tane amaç belirlenmiştir. Çalışmada, Sürdürülebilir Kalkınma Amaçlarından Sağlık ve Kaliteli Yaşam kapsamında yükseköğretim kurumlarında wellbeing halinin tesis edilmesi noktasında öneriler sunmak amaçlanmaktadır. Yükseköğretim kurumlarında eğitim gören ve meslek hayatlarında dünya vatandaşı olma sıfatlarıyla da söz sahibi olacak öğrenciler için karara katılım ya da bizzat karar mercii olma anı da yakındır. Dolayısıyla üniversite öğrencilerinin wellbeing halinin yükseltilmesinin, konuya başlangıç ve iş yaşamında hızlı verim alma açısından doğru nokta olduğu düşünülmektedir. Bu çalışma wellbeingin eğitim kalitesini artırma üzerinde katkısına değinmekte, yalnızca üniversite öğrencilerinin değil bu öğrencileri meslek hayatlarına hazırlayan akademisyenlerin ve üniversite hayatları boyunca iletişim kurmak durumunda oldukları idareci ve idari personellerin wellbeing düzeylerini artırma ile ilgili öneriler sunulmaktadır.