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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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This chapter examines the development and implementation of a sustainability module at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in the UK and assesses how this is embedded within…
This chapter examines the development and implementation of a sustainability module at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in the UK and assesses how this is embedded within the undergraduate business curriculum. The objectives are to explain the background to the development of the module in the context of the University as a whole and to examine the issues and potential benefits concerning its implementation. The chapter explores how sustainability can be integrated effectively within the curriculum and focuses on a module for the academic year 2011/2012 ‘The Sustainable Organisation’ (SO) and its underlying principles from the perspectives of members of the module team. It also reflects on previous and concurrent modules incorporating sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The module's connections with industry and related research will also be discussed within the chapter. In conclusion, the wider implications of offering the SO module within a business school will be assessed.
The purpose of this paper is to challenge the assumptions prominent in the Anglo-American context that the objective of a business is to increase its profits and that…
The purpose of this paper is to challenge the assumptions prominent in the Anglo-American context that the objective of a business is to increase its profits and that managers have to make “the business case” to implement environmentally sounder solutions or other sustainability considerations into their business decisions. The paper argues that these assumptions are not presented as a human construction or agreement, instead they are treated as though they are a given, a prerequisite to a business system. By comparing qualitative statements in a cross-cultural study, the paper highlights different ways in which economic rationality could be conceptualised.
Habermas’ (1984) framework of instrumental and communicative reason has been used to analyse the accounts of German and British managers in the Food Retail and Energy Sector.
Only the British managers “make the business case” when dealing with environmental problems. German managers use a different instrumental reason from that applied by British managers; they would argue that cost-intensive environmental improvements can be made as long as the survival of the company is not at risk.
The study challenges the perceived objectiveness of the “business case”, which has strong implications for the theoretical and practical application of Business Administration in the British context and beyond. Furthermore the paper suggests that new conceptualisations of “economic rationality” might help to better solve sustainability challenges.
Practical application of Habermas framework to question underlying assumptions in the business discourse about environmental issues.
This study aims to share experiences of an easy to adapt service-learning approach in a graduate course on life cycle assessment (LCA). Specifically, it reports on how…
This study aims to share experiences of an easy to adapt service-learning approach in a graduate course on life cycle assessment (LCA). Specifically, it reports on how students helped the university’s cafeteria to assess meals by conducting an LCA for 25 meals and identifying environmental hotspots.
A descriptive case study of a graduate course at Ulm University is presented. The course included lectures and problem-based exercises, both theoretical and software assisted. A course evaluation was conducted during the course and one year after completion to poll improvement potentials, as well as its impacts on students’ everyday life.
It was found that although it was the first LCA for all students, the resulting LCA information of 25 different meals were homogeneous, comparable to the scientific literature and beneficial to the cafeteria’s sustainable development strategy. The concept of service-learning had a higher impact on students’ motivation than a good grade and active-learning is explicitly requested by students. The course design sensitized students to the real-life problems of LCA and made their consumption patterns more elaborate and ecological. Furthermore, this digitization of higher education could be carried out with only minor changes in the present COVID-19 pandemic situation.
As the subject of service-learning in natural sciences is still expandable, this study presents an easy to adapt case study on how to integrate such an approach into university curricula dominated by traditional learning. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this case study presents the first published LCA university course explicitly describing and evaluating a service-learning approach. The topic touches the everyday lives of students, allows comparisons between different student groups, is easily scalable to different group sizes and credits, and supports learning both how to study in small groups and cooperation between groups to ensure comparability of LCA results.