Sustainability accounting courses, Talloires Declaration and academic research

Tehmina Khan (School of Accounting, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 4 January 2013



The purpose of this article is to identify the offering and nature (scope) of sustainability accounting courses at universities that have signed the Talloires Declaration and also at universities with prominent sustainability accounting researchers' affiliations. For this purpose a university web sites content analysis for sustainability accounting courses was conducted. This study can be replicated in order to evaluate web sites disclosures by universities across disciplines in relation to sustainability education. It can also be replicated to assess the theoretical versus implemented scope of sustainability education, and to determine the impact of prominent researchers in the area of sustainability education.


Talloires Declaration signatories' universities' web sites were searched for information regarding sustainability accounting subjects. A search was also conducted for the Curriculum Vitae and profile of prominent sustainability accounting researchers to collect data on involvement in sustainability accounting education by these researchers. The findings regarding the offering of a sustainability accounting course and its nature and scope (if found on the web sites) are presented in this article.


It is found that less than 30 per cent of the Talloires Declaration universities' web sites in Canada, USA, United Kingdom and Australia have information on sustainability accounting education in various forms including stand alone subjects (all electives) and sustainability accounting embedded in other accounting and non accounting courses, with limited scope. This percentage was found to be substantially lower or non‐existent at universities from other countries. The probability of sustainability accounting education being offered at the post‐graduate level (specifically as a PhD programme) is much higher at universities that have a prominent research profile in the area. It is also found that sustainability accounting education is not offered in majority of the cases, at the undergraduate level at universities where prominent sustainability accounting researchers are based. The focus is on post‐graduate and research education rather than on undergraduate and course work education.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of this study was the limited information available in English on universities' web sites from countries where English is not the primary language. Other technical limitations such as the absence of a search function on the university's web site were also found as a hindrance to data collection.


This paper addresses the existence and scope of sustainability accounting education, the gap between universities' expected comprehensive (including all disciplines) commitment to sustainability and the actual implementation of this commitment. It also addresses the absence of sustainability education involvement by prominent sustainability researchers and academics at the under graduate level.



Khan, T. (2013), "Sustainability accounting courses, Talloires Declaration and academic research", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 42-55.

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