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1 – 10 of over 2000
Article
Publication date: 13 February 2017

Aldilla Dharmasasmita, Helen Puntha and Petra Molthan-Hill

The purpose of this paper is to present a food-themed project at Nottingham Trent University, the Sustainability in Practice (SiP) Certificate, which has adopted a…

588

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a food-themed project at Nottingham Trent University, the Sustainability in Practice (SiP) Certificate, which has adopted a supra-disciplinary approach involving a collaborative enquiry into food sustainability through a flexible online course open to all staff and students.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper will describe the pedagogical approach of the certificate’s online and offline components, the various activities undertaken by participants and the digital tools used to encourage collaboration and skills development. Reflection on participant feedback is incorporated, and special attention is given to how the design of SiP equips students with the skills needed to solve sustainable challenges.

Findings

Feedback from previous participants indicated that despite high engagement in the SiP online discussion forums, there was a desire to go beyond theoretical discussion; students wanted to get actively involved in some practical challenges. “Sustainability Challenge Days” are therefore now offered and comprise in-person discussion, volunteering and collaborative group learning to complement the online course. This practice element as well as the crowdsourcing of sustainable solutions within SiP are described in detail in this paper.

Research limitations/implications

Although estimately 1,000 students have taken the SiP to date, SiP Challenge Day was only piloted this year, following recommendations by student focus groups in 2014 and 2015. Focus groups have not yet been undertaken for the 2015/2016 cohort. The feedback included in this paper is based only on students who participated in the Challenge Days. Analysis of the feedback forms indicates that the 2015/2016 SiP Challenge Days have constituted a promising pilot project, and, therefore, organisation of Challenge Days for the next academic year is already in progress, with two additional themes already in placed.

Practical implications

The SiP Challenge Day events have provided the opportunities for students from across all disciplines to discuss, collaborate and thus find solutions to a contemporary sustainability topic: food scarcity and accessibility. Hence, it has facilitated inter and supradisciplinary learning, a skill that is seldom available in a conventional lecture and/or seminar teaching environment.

Social implications

Activities in the SiP Challenge Day events included group discussions, team working and presentations. Some of the feedback received from students have included how they have enjoyed exchanging ideas from colleagues in different schools and culture, as the exchange have had them to consider different opinions and perspectives from other disciplines, culturally.

Originality/value

While a focus on sustainability within higher education curriculum is on the increase, it is still usual for universities to adopt a mono-disciplinary approach to addressing sustainability. This paper illustrates how using the digital world, higher education institutions can adopt a supra-disciplinary approach to facilitate students in addressing real-world sustainability problems. Additionally, how practical sessions can complement students’ digital learning in sustainability is also included in this paper.

Article
Publication date: 21 February 2020

Margarita Pacis and Robert VanWynsberghe

The purpose of this paper is to posit that a key sustainability tool can help provide a needed guide for the many forms of new curricula for academic, public and…

1202

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to posit that a key sustainability tool can help provide a needed guide for the many forms of new curricula for academic, public and professional learning communities. The authors demonstrate that key sustainability competency (KSC) research can highlight and provide an array of learning outcomes that can be back cast to co-design flexible, detailed curriculum, pedagogy, practice and assessment structures. They also briefly outline the connection of KSC to education for sustainability (EfS) to provide the educational basis for designing and facilitating classrooms that contribute directly to the sustainability movement.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is a review of literature with a specific focus on Glasser's (2018b) promising use of the tree as an analogy and metaphor for KSCs.

Findings

Some, for example, Glasser and Hirsh (2016) claim significant progress in identifying a KSC framework (Wiek et al., 2011) However, the authors raise concerns about the impasse that the literature has demonstrated because these stand in the way of the co-creation of sustainable societies by adjusting how we learn and interact with the world. The authors argue that we must realize and disrupt the destructive actions that form their usual approach and replace them with sustainable habits (Glasser, 2018a), and this requires the emergence of a new class of sustainability practitioners with the skills, attitudes and dispositions that are consistent with being wise, future-oriented, interdisciplinary and global decision-makers (Biasutti, 2015; Biasutti and Frate, 2016; Corney and Reid, 2007; McNaughton, 2012; Scoullos, 2013).

Research limitations/implications

Using Glasser’s metaphor, the authors assert a process through which the future sustainability practitioner might shift their values and understanding such that their habits and norms shift to create a new, sustainable way of being. The practitioner might demonstrate the competencies of implementing transformative change, modelling sustainable behaviour and wise decision-making. The competency of “empathy, mindfulness and social learning” implies critical reflection on one’s actions in comparison to their social context. Thus, reflection at this stage (tree branches and fruits) could create transformation that shifts one’s values and commitments (tree roots); the cyclical process could potentially begin again.

Practical implications

An adaptive and flexible framework of KSC could provide learning benefits by building the capacity for learners to think critically and tackle complex sustainability problems in novel ways (Brown, 2017; Glasser and Hirsh, 2016; Sterling et al., 2017; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2017; Vare and Scott, 2007). Innovation and knowledge generation are possible since the KSC could teach “students how to think, rather than what to think, while letting [them] apply this thinking to real-world sustainability problems” (Wiek and Kay, 2015, p. 29). Through the KSC, people could also learn how to transform knowledge into action in their communities (Sterling et al., 2017, p. 160) and create real-world change. This is important, since unsustainable habits that comprise the “business-as-usual” case must be replaced with life-affirming actions and facilitate a new way of being in the world. After all, “[g]ood ideas with no ideas on how to implement them are wasted ideas” (Scott, 2013, p. 275).

Social implications

The authors have asserted that the implementation of the KSC could have social benefits because its associated pedagogies aim to actively involve learners in transforming society. The sequence sees the individuals’ reflecting upon and evaluating one’s growth vis-à-vis KSC and promotes the development of learning and other habits that betters ones’ competencies (Rieckmann, 2012). Such reflection and empathy are more likely to be inherent to people who contribute to their own learning about the need to be truly compassionate for each other and the planet (Glasser and Hirsh, 2016). In achieving this level of empathy, it is a relatively simple matter then to understand that technology and policy alone are not adequately able to facilitate large-scale and positive change; unsustainability is a problem created by human action and therefore must be counteracted with theories of and solutions to unsustainable behaviours. Integrating a responsive KSC tool into higher education could help build the capacities, capabilities, competencies and eventually mastery and habits of mind and body that give rise to sustainable well-being societies.

Originality/value

The authors summarize and critique the KSC literature with an eye to creating a flexible and adaptive tool for individuals to chart their own path towards being a sustainability practitioner. The conceptual work herein is the first of its kind, and it will assist program who wish to accentuate contextual factors and individual learning objectives into their design.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 September 2013

Sonya M. Remington‐Doucette, Kim Y. Hiller Connell, Cosette M. Armstrong and Sheryl L. Musgrove

The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a classroom assessment aimed at determining the extent to which key sustainability competencies develop in students…

2503

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a classroom assessment aimed at determining the extent to which key sustainability competencies develop in students during an introductory transdisciplinary sustainability course.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper summarizes three previously identified key sustainability competencies and describes teaching methodologies used in the introductory course described here to foster these competencies in students. The development of these competencies over the course of one semester is assessed using a pre‐/post‐test based on case analyses. The implications of these findings for academic sustainability programs are discussed.

Findings

Based on the assessment used here, the sustainability competencies developed differently in students with different disciplinary affiliations as a result of the introductory sustainability course. Business majors did not improve any of the key competencies, sustainability majors improved systems thinking competence only, and sustainability minors who were majoring in another traditional discipline improved all competencies.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to undergraduate sustainability education by shedding light on how sustainability might best be incorporated into specific academic programs. This information may help create more effective sustainability courses and academic programs, which may maintain the viability of current sustainability programs and promote the institutionalization of sustainability in higher education in general.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 July 2015

Sonya Remington-Doucette and Sheryl Musgrove

The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a classroom assessment aimed at determining the extent to which five key sustainability competencies develop in…

1278

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a classroom assessment aimed at determining the extent to which five key sustainability competencies develop in students during an introductory transdisciplinary sustainability course. University sustainability programs intend to provide integrated education that fosters the key competencies students need to solve real-world sustainability problems. Translating sustainability competencies into effective pedagogical practice in integrated academic programs is not straightforward. This work builds on a previous study by both expanding the competencies evaluated and considering additional demographic characteristics.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper summarizes previously identified key sustainability competencies and describes teaching methodologies used to foster these competencies in students. Development of competencies in students during a semester-long course is assessed using a pre-/post-test based on two case studies. The implications of the findings for teaching practice and overall program structure are discussed.

Findings

Based on the assessment methods used here, four of the five sustainability competencies evaluated in this study developed differently in students according to gender, disciplinary affiliation and age. Females improved interpersonal competence more than males. Systems thinking competence improved for students associated with the three disciplinary affiliations considered in this study: sustainability major, sustainability minor and business major. Anticipatory competence improved for sustainability and business majors only, but not for students minoring in sustainability and majoring in other disciplines. Finally, normative competence improved for younger students only.

Research limitations/implications

Insights for teaching practice and overall program structure are based on assessment of one introductory transdisciplinary sustainability course. Much additional work is needed to draw strong conclusions about general teaching practices and program structure for sustainability education. This study provides a flexible and field-tested rubric for further evaluative work in other sustainability courses or degree programs.

Practical implications

Universities incorporate sustainability into their undergraduate curricula in many ways, ranging from certificates to entire degree programs focused on sustainability. The results of this study suggest that educators pay attention to gender diversity, classroom teaching practices, disciplinary perspectives and student attitudes and developmental stages as they figure out how to make sustainability part of undergraduate education. This information may help create more effective sustainability courses and academic programs, which may maintain the viability of current sustainability programs and promote the institutionalization of sustainability in higher education.

Originality/value

This research contributes to undergraduate sustainability education by providing insight into how sustainability education might thoughtfully be integrated into academic programs. It also offers an assessment approach for use by other sustainability educators to evaluate effectiveness of teaching practice and overall program structure based on five key sustainability competencies commonly cited in the literature.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 29 June 2018

Eureta Rosenberg, Heila Betrie Lotz-Sisitka and Presha Ramsarup

The purpose of this paper is to share and analyse the methodology and findings of the 2016 Green Economy Learning Assessment South Africa, including learning needs…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to share and analyse the methodology and findings of the 2016 Green Economy Learning Assessment South Africa, including learning needs identified with reference to the competency framings of Scharmer (2009) and Wiek et al. (2011); and implications for university and work-based sustainability education, broadly conceptualised in a just transitions framework.

Design/methodology/approach

The assessment was conducted using desktop policy reviews and an audit of sustainability education providers, online questionnaires to sector experts, focus groups and interviews with practitioners driving green economy initiatives.

Findings

Policy monitoring and evaluation, and education for sustainable development, emerged as key change levers across nine priority areas including agriculture, energy, natural resources, water, transport and infrastructure. The competencies required to drive sustainability in these areas were clustered as technical, relational and transformational competencies for: making the case; integrated sustainable development planning; strategic adaptive management and expansive learning; working across organisational units; working across knowledge fields; capacity and organisational development; and principle-based leadership. Practitioners develop such competencies through formal higher education and short courses plus course-activated networks and “on the job” learning.

Research limitations/implications

The paper adds to the literature on sustainability competencies and raises questions regarding forms of hybrid learning suitable for developing technical, relational and transformative competencies.

Practical implications

A national learning needs assessment methodology and tools for customised organisational learning needs assessments are shared.

Originality/value

The assessment methodology is novel in this context and the workplace-based tools, original.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 May 2018

Beth Knight and Fred Paterson

The world faces greater environmental, social and governance challenges than ever before and a growing number of organisations are establishing sustainability functions…

1904

Abstract

Purpose

The world faces greater environmental, social and governance challenges than ever before and a growing number of organisations are establishing sustainability functions, strategies and plans in an effort to address these complex issues. However, limited research exists on the critical behavioural competencies required to maximise leadership impact on sustainability initiatives. With the stakes so high and the task so complex, the purpose of this paper is to identify the key behavioural competencies of corporate sustainability leaders and set out a model for assessing these behavioural competencies.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a review of the empirical literature, the study sets out five competency groupings, which informed a hypothesis. This was tested quantitatively via a self-report tool that enabled a quantitative analysis of behavioural competencies. Contributions from 97 participants were triangulated with data collected from colleagues who rated the participants on the same set of competencies.

Findings

Ten critical and ten prominent behaviours of sustainability leaders in five competency groupings were identified. The analysis also explored how the business sector, location, years of experience and level of qualification impacted upon the sample sustainability leaders’ perceived effectiveness.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size means that the competency model derived from the findings should be seen as propositional and requiring further validation. Impact measures would add considerable robustness to the findings.

Practical implications

The research offers a means to better focus and tailor leadership development experiences and as a tool for the recruitment of sustainability leaders.

Originality/value

The study is based on a robust quantitative approach, and the behavioural competency model developed as a result provides a tool for sustainability leaders to map current behaviours and monitor their progress over time.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Guido Caniglia, Beatrice John, Martin Kohler, Leonie Bellina, Arnim Wiek, Christopher Rojas, Manfred D. Laubichler and Daniel Lang

This paper aims to present an experience-based learning framework that provides a bottom-up, student-centered entrance point for the development of systems thinking…

1841

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present an experience-based learning framework that provides a bottom-up, student-centered entrance point for the development of systems thinking, normative and collaborative competencies in sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The framework combines mental mapping with exploratory walking. It interweaves mapping and walking activities with methodological and theoretical inputs as well as with reflections and discussions. The framework aligns experiential activities, i.e. mental mapping and walking, with learning objectives, i.e. novice-level sustainability competencies. The authors applied the framework for student activities in Phoenix/Tempe and Hamburg/Lüneburg as part of The Global Classroom, a project between Arizona State University in the USA and Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany.

Findings

The application of the experience-based learning framework demonstrates how students started developing systems thinking (e.g. understanding urban systems as functional entities and across different domains), normative (e.g. using different sustainability principles) and collaborative (e.g. learning across disciplinary, social and cultural differences) competencies in sustainability.

Originality/value

The experience-based learning framework contributes to the development of curricular activities for the initial development of sustainability competencies in introductory-level courses. It enables students from different disciplinary, social and cultural backgrounds, e.g. in international education, to collaboratively start developing such competencies. The framework can be adapted to different educational contexts.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 January 2016

Seaton Patrick Tarrant and Leslie Paul Thiele

The purpose of this paper is to ground contemporary sustainability education in John Dewey’s democratic pedagogy. Specifically, the authors argue that Dewey’s thought…

4983

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to ground contemporary sustainability education in John Dewey’s democratic pedagogy. Specifically, the authors argue that Dewey’s thought anticipates, and theoretically informs, the sustainability skill set required of contemporary citizens in a complex and changing world.

Design/methodology/approach

For illustrative purposes, the authors consider how these skills are at work in current approaches to the adaptive co-management of ecosystems, and they argue that these same skills are at work across professional and cultural contexts, toward the achievement of sustainable societies. In turn, the authors situate Dewey’s relevance to contemporary sustainability education in his writing on interdependence, fallibilism and experimentalism.

Findings

Dewey’s writings provide both a historical antecedent and still valid moral and practical justification for sustainability education’s emphasis on integrated and adaptive learning.

Practical implications

Grounding sustainability education in Dewey’s democratic pedagogy underlines its capacity and obligation to develop critical thinking and systems thinking skills, communication skills and collaboration skills in students.

Originality/value

The paper acknowledges the many ways Dewey has been incorporated into environmental philosophy, experiential pedagogy and sustainability theory. But Dewey’s role in the historical development of skills-based pedagogy and, more specifically, his continuing contribution to contemporary practices of sustainability education has yet to be explored. By grounding sustainability education in Dewey’s democratic pedagogy, the authors underline its civic mandate to empower citizens to become lifelong learners and skillful stewards.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 September 2017

Nadine Andrews

The purpose of this study is to gain insight into psychosocial factors influencing sustainability professionals in their work to lead by influencing and improving…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to gain insight into psychosocial factors influencing sustainability professionals in their work to lead by influencing and improving pro-environmental decision-making in their organisations and to increase understanding of psychosocial factors that affect their effectiveness in achieving desired results.

Design/methodology/approach

Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis as a framework, the study enquires into the lived experience of six research subjects. The participants are sustainability professionals and leaders from the UK and Canada. The primary data source is semi-structured interviews, analysed with micro-discourse analysis.

Findings

Key psychosocial factors involved in participants’ experience are identified, specifically psychological threat-coping strategies, psychological needs, motivation and vitality, finding complex interactions between them. Tensions and trade-offs between competency, relatedness and autonomy needs and coping strategies such as suppression of negative emotion and “deep green” identity are modelled in diagrams to show the dynamics. How these tensions are negotiated has implications for psychological well-being and effectiveness.

Practical/implications

The concepts and models presented in this paper may be of practical use to sustainability professionals, environmentalists and organisation leaders, for example, in identifying interventions to develop inner resources, support authentic and effective action and disrupt maladaptive responses to ecological crisis.

Originality/value

The study contributes insight to understanding of underlying processes shaping environmental cognition and behaviour, particularly in relation to psychological threat-coping strategies and interacting factors. With a transdisciplinary approach, the methodology enables nuanced interpretation of complex phenomena to be generated.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 8 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 June 2022

Asha K.S. Nair and Som Sekhar Bhattacharyya

The purpose of this paper is to study individual sustainability competencies and its linkage toward building innovation capabilities. This study explores the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study individual sustainability competencies and its linkage toward building innovation capabilities. This study explores the interrelations between individual-level competencies with organizational-level capabilities.

Design/methodology/approach

Thematic content analysis is used to analyze the qualitative interview data from 22 experts working in the sustainability departments of large corporations in India. The respondents were chief sustainability officers, sustainability managers or general managers responsible for driving sustainability in their organizations.

Findings

This study identifies individual sustainability competencies into two sets. First being cognitive competencies and the second being emotional competencies. The cognitive competencies identified are systems thinking, future orientation and perspective-taking (cognitive empathy). The affective or emotional competencies identified are connectedness to nature, sense of transcendence of time and empathic concern. The competencies enhanced innovation through the development of stakeholder capabilities and organizational learning capabilities.

Research limitations/implications

This study provides new insight regarding the link between both cognitive and emotional competencies and organizational capabilities for innovation.

Practical implications

This study appraises the role of individual sustainability competencies on innovation. This study indicates the importance of developing sustainability competencies at the individual level to drive innovation.

Originality/value

This paper provides novel insights on sustainability competencies and its link with innovation. The conceptualization of competencies was made as cognitive and emotional skills. Furthermore, its relationship with innovation capabilities advance the understanding of the individual contribution to innovation.

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