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Today becomes tomorrow: Re‐thinking business practice, education and learning in the context of sustainability

Daniella Tilbury (International Research Institute in Sustainability, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucester, UK)
and
Alexandra Ryan (International Research Institute in Sustainability, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucester, UK)

Journal of Global Responsibility

ISSN: 2041-2568

Article publication date: 27 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The present preoccupations of businesses and business educators include the increasing global debt, rising unemployment and expanding carbon footprints, and the societal and governmental pressures to minimise the impact of these challenges. Meanwhile, the urge towards technical fixes and problem solving is shaping the way that business is done today and constraining business practices for tomorrow. The repercussions for business education are serious and systemic, as these responses neglect the need to critically question, innovate and rethink business futures, through our educational processes. The purpose of this paper is to provide context and orientation to this special issue collection which showcases current thinking and practice in higher education aimed at addressing this predicament and finding new responses.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper offers a critical review of developments geared towards more sustainable and responsible forms of business education and practice. It takes an inclusive view of “sustainability” that embraces issues such as poverty and inequality, environmental degradation, human rights and access to resources. The concept reaches beyond the practice of “corporate social responsibility” to take into account the complex challenge of reorienting business practice to improve development processes and life chances worldwide, in the context of the inevitable limits to planetary resources.

Findings

The paper considers the influences of international movements in ushering in a vision of learning for sustainability in business education. It discusses challenges that have come to light through recent initiatives and in literature on curriculum innovation in this area. The paper calls for a re‐envisioning of business practice, education and learning which goes beyond remedies for current symptoms of unsustainable development and unmasks the need to reconnect business with people and planet.

Originality/value

This paper foregrounds lessons learned from several areas of thought and practice that have bearing on the communities of practice for business education. It frames and situates the contributions presented in this collection, exploring upcoming agendas in this critically important field.

Keywords

Citation

Tilbury, D. and Ryan, A. (2011), "Today becomes tomorrow: Re‐thinking business practice, education and learning in the context of sustainability", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 137-150. https://doi.org/10.1108/20412561111166012

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited