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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2016

Bronwyn E. Wood, Sue Cornforth, Fiona Beals, Mike Taylor and Rachel Tallon

The purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences of academic staff who are committed to embedding sustainability within tertiary curricula and pedagogy.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences of academic staff who are committed to embedding sustainability within tertiary curricula and pedagogy.

Design/methodology/approach

The focus of this paper is on a New Zealand university. A survey of staff was undertaken and in-depth interviews conducted with 11 sustainability “champions”. A narrative variant of thematic analysis was used to examine the ways these sustainability “champions” made sense of the work they do. Through an analysis of their metaphors and metaphorical language, a sense of the identities that they held as educators of sustainability was gained.

Findings

Three types of identities emerged – the sustainability “saviour”, “nurturer” and “struggler”. These identities reflected the champion’s experiences, disciplinary affiliations and pedagogical approaches. Interdisciplinarity emerged as a key tenet and challenge for such sustainability champions.

Originality/value

This paper provides rare insights into the experiences, identities and teaching approaches of sustainability champions within higher education. It highlights the need for university-wide conversations and cross-discipline support for such academics.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 24 April 2018

Camille Ouellet Dallaire, Kate Trincsi, Melissa K. Ward, Lorna I. Harris, Larissa Jarvis, Rachel L. Dryden and Graham K. MacDonald

This paper reflects on the Sustainability Research Symposium (SRS), a long-term student-led initiative (seven years) at McGill University in Montréal, Canada, that seeks to foster…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper reflects on the Sustainability Research Symposium (SRS), a long-term student-led initiative (seven years) at McGill University in Montréal, Canada, that seeks to foster interdisciplinary dialogue among students and researchers by using the sustainability sciences as a bridge concept. The purpose of this study is to explore the effectiveness of the SRS in fostering sustainability literacy.

Design/methodology/approach

Past participants of the SRS were invited to complete a survey to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the symposia from a participants’ perspective. A mix of descriptive statistics and axial and thematic coding were used to analyze survey responses (n = 56). This study links theory and practice to explore the outcomes of symposia as tools for students to engage with sustainability research in university campuses.

Findings

Survey findings indicated that participants are from multiple disciplinary backgrounds and that they are often interested in sustainability research without being identified as sustainability researchers. Overall, the survey findings suggested that student-organized symposia can be effective mechanisms to enhance exposure to interdisciplinary research and to integrate sustainability sciences outside the classroom.

Practical implications

Despite being a one-day event, the survey findings suggest that symposia can offer an “initiation” toward interdisciplinary dialogue and around sustainability research that can have lasting impacts beyond the time frame of the event.

Originality/value

Although research symposia are widespread in university campuses, there is little published information on the effectiveness of student-organized symposia as vectors for sustainability literacy. This original contribution presents a case study of the effectiveness of an annual symposium at one Canadian university, organized by students from the Faculties of Science, Arts and Management.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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