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Article
Publication date: 22 March 2021

Hongor Miller, Byron Ronald Miller Jr and Jeffrey Spoelstra

The purpose of this paper is to explore the strategies and an effective model for creating and implementing a sustainability internship program at a university campus.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the strategies and an effective model for creating and implementing a sustainability internship program at a university campus.

Design/methodology/approach

This study assessed Western Michigan University’s sustainability program’s interns’ gain of environmental knowledge on sustainability topics via pre- and post-test assessments. A sample of 50 interns between fall 2016 and spring 2019 comprising six cohorts participated in this study. Data were analyzed using statistical package for social sciences to calculate descriptive statistics and sign tests.

Findings

The sign tests of the accumulative internship pre- and post-test assessment scores significantly increased for all 14 sustainability knowledge dimensions.

Research limitations/implications

The pre- and post-test assessments of the internship program are unable to track and predict the long-term behavior changes of the interns after the completion of the program. Therefore, a future longitudinal study is needed.

Practical implications

This sustainability internship program’s content and experiential learning model has been proven to be effective in increasing interns’ knowledge of sustainability issues and creating sustainability stewards. Institutions and universities should consider creating their own sustainability internship program based on Western Michigan University's program using pre- and post-test assessments as a method of evaluation.

Social implications

The internship programs’ main strength is that it offers students from all academic backgrounds an opportunity to dig deep into sustainability issues, build new social networks, gain knowledge, develop leadership skills, become sustainability stewards and immediately apply what they have learned on campus and in their local community. On-campus internships are unique learning opportunities worthy of study and refinement.

Originality/value

This research paper is unique because it analyzes the combined pre- and post-test scores of six cohorts of interns’ across multiple knowledge dimensions of sustainability. This study empirically shows that the combined interns’ sustainability knowledge across all dimensions significantly increased from the pre- to post-test over the semester-long program.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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