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International field experiences promote professional development for sustainability leaders

R. Bruce Hull (Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, Virginia Tech, Arlington, Virginia, USA)
Courtney Kimmel (Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, Virginia Tech, Arlington, Virginia, USA)
David P Robertson (Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, Virginia Tech, Arlington, Virginia, USA)
Michael Mortimer (Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, Virginia Tech, Arlington, Virginia, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 4 January 2016

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to describe, explain and evaluate a graduate education program that provides international project experiences and builds competencies related to collaborative problem-solving, cultural capacity to work globally and sustainable development.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative analysis of survey data from 28 students supplemented by observation and interviews conducted before, during and after a multi-week project and a ten-day trip to China in 2014. Supplemental data and contextual information were provided by a series of related projects and trips led by the authors in other cultural contexts including Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey.

Findings

Six pedagogic practices were perceived as effective by students and generate learning outcomes desired by faculty: authentic problems, learning cycles, shared inquiry, transdisciplinarity, exploration and engagement.

Practical implications

The pedagogy was effective, especially the engagement pedagogy in which students interviewed peers, professionals, residents and others in China.

Originality/value

These learning outcomes and pedagogies have been studied before, but not in this particular combination or as applied to a mix of business, non-governmental organization and government mid-career professionals seeking professional development in leadership for sustainable development.

Keywords

Citation

Hull, R.B., Kimmel, C., Robertson, D.P. and Mortimer, M. (2016), "International field experiences promote professional development for sustainability leaders", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 86-104. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-07-2014-0105

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited