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Exploring the relationship between dispositions to think critically and sustainability concern in HESD

Kerry Shephard (Higher Education Development Centre, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Qudsia Kalsoom (Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan)
Ritika Gupta (School of Education, Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India)
Lorenz Probst (Institute for Development Research, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Wien, Austria)
Paul Gannon (Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Montana State University Bozeman, Bozeman, Montana, USA)
V. Santhakumar (Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, School of Development, India)
Ifeanyi Glory Ndukwe (Higher Education Development Centre, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Tim Jowett (Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 17 June 2021

Issue publication date: 16 August 2021

305

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education is uncertain which sustainability-related education targets should be sought and monitored. Accepting that something needs to be measurable to be systematically improved, the authors explored how measures relate to potential targets. This paper aims to focus on dispositions to think critically (active open-minded thinking and fair-minded thinking in appraising reasoning) as measures and explored how they related to sustainability concern as an indicative educational target.

Design/methodology/approach

This research included the development and testing of research instruments (scales) that explored dispositions to critical thinking and sustainability concern. Authors researched these instruments within their own correspondence groups and tested them with university students and staff in Pakistan, the USA, Austria, India and New Zealand. The authors also asked a range of contextualising questions.

Findings

Respondents’ disposition to aspects of active, open-minded thinking and fair-minded thinking do predict their concern about facets of sustainability but their strength of religious belief was an important factor in these relationships and in their measurement.

Practical implications

This research demonstrates the complexity of monitoring dispositions to think critically and sustainability concern in educational systems, particularly in circumstances where the roles of religious beliefs are of interest; and suggests ways to address this complexity.

Originality/value

This research integrates and expands discourses on ESD and on critical thinking in diverse disciplines and cultures. It investigates measurement approaches and targets that could help higher education institutions to educate for sustainable development and to monitor their progress, in ways that are compatible with their culture and values.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the support and contributions of many colleagues and students from multiple institutions. The authors also acknowledge the helpful advice of peer-reviewers.

Author order: All co-authors have made substantial contributions to this article, in diverse ways. The order of authors does not necessarily signify any particular measure of the magnitude of their contribution.

Citation

Shephard, K., Kalsoom, Q., Gupta, R., Probst, L., Gannon, P., Santhakumar, V., Ndukwe, I.G. and Jowett, T. (2021), "Exploring the relationship between dispositions to think critically and sustainability concern in HESD", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 1166-1185. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-07-2020-0251

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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