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Students’ perceptions of education for sustainable development in the accounting and business curriculum at a business school in New Zealand

Umesh Sharma (Department of Accounting, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)
Martin Kelly (Department of Accounting, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 2049-372X

Article publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore students’ perceptions and understandings of, and attitudes towards, education for sustainable development (ESD) at Delta Business School (DBS) in New Zealand[1]. The aim is to extend the limited literature on students’ perceptions of ESD within an accounting and business curriculum.

Design/methodology/approach

To ascertain the students’ evaluations of their ESD, a survey was administered to 60 accounting and business students at DBS. The survey data were supplemented with interview evidence from 20 of the 60 students to obtain a deeper understanding of the students’ evaluations.

Findings

A majority of the students perceive ESD as a “good thing.” Students were supportive of the sustainable business learning experience offered at DBS. The results suggest that students’ knowledge of sustainable business practices improved significantly from their studies.

Practical implications

The paper should assist education providers to assess how students perceive ESD. This may help bring about changes, to improve the teaching of sustainable development. Universities can be the main providers of ESD, but other educational providers such as the professional accounting bodies will also need to manage the development of ongoing education processes. Most students at DBS believe they are obtaining a good understanding of the concept of sustainability.

Originality/value

There is a shortage of research concerning how students perceive sustainable development education. This paper contributes to the discussion of what to incorporate in sustainable education programmes, to help students properly to understand sustainable development. We believe accounting and business education should develop graduates into broad-minded thinkers with a capacity for independent and critical thought. This will prepare them for future leadership roles.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Earlier versions of the paper have been presented at the Sixth New Zealand Management Accounting Conference at Massey University, Palmerston North and Auckland Region Accounting Conference (2012) at Massey University, Albany, Auckland. The authors are thankful to the anonymous reviewers and the participants at the above conferences for their constructive feedback on the paper. Special thanks to James Guthrie and Winnie O’Grady for their thoughtful feedback on the previous versions of the paper. The authors would also like to thank the editor Charl De Villiers and the two anonymous reviewers of the journal for providing constructive suggestions on the improvement of the paper.

Citation

Sharma, U. and Kelly, M. (2014), "Students’ perceptions of education for sustainable development in the accounting and business curriculum at a business school in New Zealand", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 130-148. https://doi.org/10.1108/MEDAR-12-2012-0042

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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