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Sustainability service learning in economics

Marlen Gabriele Arnold (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Corporate Environmental Management and Sustainability, Technische Universität Chemnitz, Chemnitz, Germany)

Journal of International Education in Business

ISSN: 2046-469X

Article publication date: 27 December 2021

Issue publication date: 20 April 2022

138

Abstract

Purpose

Service learning is not comprehensively developed in economics such as the implementation of the 17 sustainability goals of the Agenda 2030 – although this would be beneficial as experiential learning is linked to democratic education goals. Service Learning offers itself as a didactic design for this purpose. The paper aims to discuss how service learning can be used to work critically and reflexively on sustainability issues in a cross-university context.

Design/methodology/approach

The cross-university teaching-learning project brought together students of industrial engineering and economics. The idea space “sustainable city” was to be developed together with practice partners with the help of the practice-relevant project management method scrum and methods of sustainability assessment in the sense of service learning. Evaluating the project, a written and a qualitative survey were conducted and analysed by means of descriptive statistics as well as content analysis.

Findings

Success factors include the regular feedback by practice partners and lecturers including reflection questions. Student heterogeneity can hinder effective project work. Complexity can deter effective and successful service learning. The use of scrum in service learning contexts cannot be fully recommended. Although scrum contributes to service learning concepts in economics, in complex sustainability projects either the method should be in focus or prior knowledge of scrum should be mandatory.

Originality/value

The paper discusses how service learning can be used to critically and reflexively address social and practical challenges in a cross-university context. The study contributes to the fact that the complexity of education for sustainable development competencies requires the teaching of knowledge- and fact-based fundamentals as well as methodological-research procedures for research-based and at the same time practice-oriented learning.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank for funding BMBF, LiT.Förderung: Kooperative Lehre.

Citation

Arnold, M.G. (2022), "Sustainability service learning in economics", Journal of International Education in Business, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 106-125. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIEB-03-2021-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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