The urgent challenges of sustainability require novel teaching methods facilitating different types of learning. The purpose of this paper is to examine the important role of experiential learning in higher education programmes relating to sustainability and to evaluate a number of teaching and learning activities (TLAs) that can be used to leverage this approach.
Based on questionnaire surveys carried out for over seven years with students from a highly international master’s-level course, this paper describes the utility of experiential learning theory in teaching around “innovation for sustainability”. Drawing on Kolb’s theories and subsequent modifications, the paper reviews and evaluates the TLAs used in the course that have fostered experiential learning in the classroom, including role-play seminars, case study-based seminars and sessions centred around sharing and reflecting on personal professional histories.
The qualitative data and discussion illustrate the utility of experiential learning approaches in post-graduate education for sustainable development, especially in generating empathy and understanding for different sustainability perspectives and priorities from around the world. In particular, the paper offers novel insights into the strengths and limitations of the TLAs.
These insights are valuable to education for sustainable development practitioners dealing with international student intakes displaying variable levels of professional experience who are looking to foster experiential learning, reflection and inter-cultural empathy. They can inform the design of classroom-based TLAs that are capable of equipping students with not only the analytical skills for career success but also the inter-cultural sensibility required for international leadership in the sustainable development domain.
Ely, A.V. (2018), "Experiential learning in “innovation for sustainability”: An evaluation of teaching and learning activities (TLAs) in an international masters course", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 7, pp. 1204-1219. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-08-2017-0141Download as .RIS
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