The green economy learning assessment South Africa

Eureta Rosenberg (Department of Education, Rhodes University Environmental Learning Research Centre, Grahamstown, South Africa)
Heila Betrie Lotz-Sisitka (Department of Education, Rhodes University Environmental Learning Research Centre, Grahamstown, South Africa)
Presha Ramsarup (Rhodes University Environmental Learning Research Centre, Grahamstown, South Africa)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Publication date: 13 August 2018



The purpose of this paper is to share and analyse the methodology and findings of the 2016 Green Economy Learning Assessment South Africa, including learning needs identified with reference to the competency framings of Scharmer (2009) and Wiek et al. (2011); and implications for university and work-based sustainability education, broadly conceptualised in a just transitions framework.


The assessment was conducted using desktop policy reviews and an audit of sustainability education providers, online questionnaires to sector experts, focus groups and interviews with practitioners driving green economy initiatives.


Policy monitoring and evaluation, and education for sustainable development, emerged as key change levers across nine priority areas including agriculture, energy, natural resources, water, transport and infrastructure. The competencies required to drive sustainability in these areas were clustered as technical, relational and transformational competencies for: making the case; integrated sustainable development planning; strategic adaptive management and expansive learning; working across organisational units; working across knowledge fields; capacity and organisational development; and principle-based leadership. Practitioners develop such competencies through formal higher education and short courses plus course-activated networks and “on the job” learning.

Research limitations/implications

The paper adds to the literature on sustainability competencies and raises questions regarding forms of hybrid learning suitable for developing technical, relational and transformative competencies.

Practical implications

A national learning needs assessment methodology and tools for customised organisational learning needs assessments are shared.


The assessment methodology is novel in this context and the workplace-based tools, original.



Rosenberg, E., Lotz-Sisitka, H. and Ramsarup, P. (2018), "The green economy learning assessment South Africa", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 243-258.

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