The importance of teaching ethics of sustainability

Kelly Biedenweg (School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Martha C. Monroe (School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Annie Oxarart (School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 4 January 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the importance of a focus on ethics in sustainability education and present results from a pilot graduate‐level course titled the Ethics of Sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a case study presenting a qualitative evaluation from a pilot 14‐week Ethics of Sustainability course. Data are based on observations, surveys and interviews with students.

Findings

Students from diverse fields found the ethical concepts new, stimulating and crucial for their careers. Ethical concepts provide a framework for thinking about sustainable practices in their personal and professional lives.

Research limitations/implications

Findings are based on a single pilot course and post‐participation responses. Future research could explore different teaching strategies and different institutions, and use pre/post studies.

Practical implications

This study suggests that a course on ethical principles related to sustainability is a useful and potentially critical component to any curriculum intending to prepare future professionals to be effective contributors to a sustainable society. Higher education may adopt the course concepts and learning tools to enhance their curriculum and businesses and corporations will benefit from entry‐level professionals with a solid ethical foundation for making more sustainability‐oriented decisions.

Originality/value

The paper discusses an innovative course designed with funding from the US National Science Foundation. It confirms the benefit and provides some content advice for a course oriented toward ethics in sustainability curricula.

Keywords

Citation

Biedenweg, K., Monroe, M. and Oxarart, A. (2013), "The importance of teaching ethics of sustainability", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 6-14. https://doi.org/10.1108/14676371311288912

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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