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Education for sustainable development and sustainability consciousness: evidence from Malaysian universities

Atif Saleem (College of Teacher Education, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China)
Sarfraz Aslam (School of Foreign Languages, Yulin University, Yulin, China)
Guoyuan Sang (Center for Teacher Education Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China)
Philip Saagyum Dare (Faculty of Education, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and)
Tianxue Zhang (College of Teacher Education, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 1 September 2022

Issue publication date: 5 January 2023

115

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to understand the practices and perceptions of education for sustainable development (ESD) in the university classrooms of Malaysia, exploring how holistic, pluralistic and action-oriented approaches to ESD were linked to their knowingness, attitudes and behavior regarding sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The perceptions of 2,678 students and 1,013 teachers from a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at four Malaysian universities were surveyed. Their views of ESD and sustainability consciousness (SC) were recorded on five-point Likert-type scales, and the resulting data was investigated using descriptive and analytical statistics.

Findings

Holistic, pluralistic and action-oriented approaches to ESD teaching and learning were widespread in Malaysian universities, with significant associations found between ESD approaches and SC. While all three approaches enhanced each aspect of SC, the results indicated the need to develop action-oriented approaches more fully.

Originality/value

This research underlines the importance of sustainability education in the context of higher education. It provides empirical evidence for developing action-oriented approaches to ESD and confirms the utility of holistic content and pluralistic pedagogy to the teaching and learning of sustainability.

Keywords

Citation

Saleem, A., Aslam, S., Sang, G., Dare, P.S. and Zhang, T. (2023), "Education for sustainable development and sustainability consciousness: evidence from Malaysian universities", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 193-211. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-05-2021-0198

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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