Global learning for sustainable development in higher education: recent trends and a critique

Elsie Anderberg (School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden)
Birgitta Nordén (International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)
Birgit Hansson (Learning Lund, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 18 September 2009



The purpose of this paper is to provide a synopsis of some major trends that have marked discussions on global learning for sustainable development (GLSD) in higher education. The aim is formulated against the background of the complexity represented in GLSD, as well as the fact that sustainable development (SD) is an issue of global interest for universities.


The authors conducted an overview in recent trends in research on GLSD in higher education over the last 20 years, based on the combination of the keyword higher education for Sustainable Development with global learning (GL) and global education.


The overview suggests that only relatively limited steps have been implemented to achieve GLSD, and rhetoric still dominates the discussions. It appears that little empirical research has been undertaken on learning in global settings. Several authors have identified the need for a competence‐based curriculum for GLSD.


Universities, professionals and students need to take greater responsibility. How knowledge, values and abilities are formed and developed from the global learner's perspective therefore, remains an open and fundamental question. The paper underlines the crucial role that higher education plays in GL for sustainability.



Anderberg, E., Nordén, B. and Hansson, B. (2009), "Global learning for sustainable development in higher education: recent trends and a critique", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 368-378.

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