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Sustainability in Brazilian federal universities

Lisiane Celia Palma (Federal Institute of Rio Grande do Sul, Canoas, Brazil Federal Univeristy of Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil and Organizations Study Group – GESTOR/UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Lessandra M. de Oliveira (Union of Business Integrated Schools – UNIFIN, Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Keitiline R. Viacava (Organizations Study Group – GESTOR/UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 11 July 2011




The purpose of this paper is to identify the number of courses related to sustainability offered in bachelor degree programs of business administration in Brazilian federal universities.


An exploratory research was carried out based on a descriptive scope. The process of mapping federal universities in Brazil was carried out using data available in the Cadastro das Instituições de Educação Superior (General Register of Undergraduate Institutions), on the Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas Educacionais – INEPE (National Institute for Educational Studies and Research) web site. Then, researchers collected business administration curricula from the universities' web sites. The present study was based on 40 of the 45 universities first considered, which represents 89 percent of the programs offered in Brazil. After data collection – performed from July to August 2009 – a qualitative analysis of the curriculum was carried out.


The inclusion of new courses that involve sustainability in business administration programs is still irregular and slow. Of the 40 universities investigated, only 13 (around 33 percent) offered courses related to the topic.

Research limitations/implications

The nature of the research does not allow generalizations regarding other public or private undergraduate institutions.

Practical implications

Results denote a deficiency in relation to the adoption of required courses on sustainability. This gap in the curriculum may compromise the ability of business administration students – who are the future managers and strategists – to reflect on the role of organizations in society.


The present study is the first to examine the teaching of sustainability in Brazilian business education. It also contributes to monitoring the performance of Brazilian federal universities in the teaching of sustainability in business administration programs.



Celia Palma, L., de Oliveira, L.M. and Viacava, K.R. (2011), "Sustainability in Brazilian federal universities", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 250-258.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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