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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2019

Rudi Wessel Pretorius, Ryan Anderson, Anisa Khotoo and Richelle Pienaar

This paper aims to reflect on approaches through which open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) students can use their local environments for assessments and explores how this shapes…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to reflect on approaches through which open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) students can use their local environments for assessments and explores how this shapes their conceptualisations of “university” and “campus”. Key issues and lessons learnt are covered, thus providing pointers for implementation of the type of assessment approaches that are presented.

Design/methodology/approach

Using three undergraduate sustainability-related modules in the Department of Geography, University of South Africa (Unisa), the lecturers’ reflections on the real-world sustainability learning experiences of students in these modules (2015-2018) have been cross-correlated and compared to present an integrated picture of emerging best practice.

Findings

The use of real-world, place-based applications, which form a central theme in the assessment strategy for all three modules, allows students to deal hands-on with sustainability issues, establishes a connection between ODeL students and the university and presents an opportunity to engage these students in real-world sustainability learning despite not being on campus.

Research limitations/implications

The case study format and qualitative, reflective methodology present limitations, while specifically focusing on ODeL and the final phase of undergraduate studies. Despite these limitations, the lessons learnt can be of value to universities currently transferring to online offerings, with possible impacts for sustainability learning.

Originality/value

This paper addresses misconceptions on the role of ODeL in transforming to sustainability. The criticism that ODeL is suitable for primarily theoretical training is countered by evidence that appropriately structured assessments requiring ODeL students to engage with real-world issues in their local environments, can provide valuable sustainability learning experiences.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 August 2021

Rudi Wessel Pretorius, Sanet Carow, Graeme Wilson and Peter Schmitz

This paper aims to showcase and critically review the value of selected pedagogies in which real-world engagements are used to enhance sustainability learning in an open, distance…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to showcase and critically review the value of selected pedagogies in which real-world engagements are used to enhance sustainability learning in an open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) context in the Global South. The paper considers opportunities, issues, alternatives and implementation guidelines.

Design/methodology/approach

The School of Ecological and Human Sustainability (University of South Africa) serves as case study, with blended and fully online learning used as examples of pedagogies. The assessment of these pedagogies uses examples of learning activities and exercises, critical reflections on feedback by lecturers and students and consideration against criteria for real-world learning.

Findings

The experiences showcased illustrate that despite challenges in ODeL, real-world engagements can be used successful as pedagogy for sustainability learning in the Global South context. Limited access to ICTs can be mitigated through mobile technologies and free and open software applications, as illustrated by the examples in this paper.

Research limitations/implications

The case study approach and qualitative methodology present limitations, with focus on only two examples. However, significant depth is achieved with the assessment of these examples, while the recommendations and lessons learnt can be applied in other contexts, thus expanding on the knowledge and experience in this field.

Originality/value

This paper showcases innovative approaches to incorporate real-world engagements for sustainability learning in ODeL. Application of real-world engagements in ODeL in the Global South context is original and addresses the need for teaching and learning strategies responding to the digital divide and contributing to expand access to higher education and an Afrocentric discourse to best practice.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Abstract

Purpose

There is a widely held belief that sustainable development (SD) policies are essential for universities to successfully engage in matters related to sustainability, and are an indicator of the extent to which they are active in this field. This paper aims to examine the evidence which currently exists to support this assumption. It surveys a sample of universities in Brazil, Germany, Greece, Portugal, South Africa and the UK and the USA to ascertain the extent to which universities that are active in the field of sustainable development have formal policies on sustainable development, and whether such policies are a pre-condition for successful sustainability efforts.

Design/methodology/approach

The study involved 35 universities in seven countries (five universities respectively). A mixed-methods approach has been used, ranging from document analysis, website analysis, questionnaires and interviewing.

Findings

Although only 60 per cent of the sampled universities had a policy that specifically addressed SD, this cannot be regarded as an indicator that the remaining 40 per cent are not engaged with substantial actions that address SD. Indeed, all of the universities in the sample, regardless of the existence of a SD formal policy, demonstrated engagement with environmental sustainability policies or procedures in some form or another. This research has been limited by the availability and ability to procure information from the sampled universities. Despite this, it is one of the largest research efforts of this kind ever performed.

Research limitations/implications

This research has been limited by the availability and ability to procure information from the sampled universities.

Practical implications

The findings provide some valuable insights into the connections between SD policies on the one hand and the practice of sustainable development in higher education institutions on the other.

Social implications

Universities with SD policies can contribute to models of economic growth consistent with sustainable development.

Originality/value

The study is the one of the largest research efforts of this kind ever performed.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 11 March 2022

Rudi Wessel Pretorius and Melanie Nicolau

172

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Article
Publication date: 23 March 2023

Walter Leal Filho, Fernanda Frankenberger Silva, Amanda Salvia, Chris Shiel, Arminda Paço, Elizabeth Price, Luciana Londero Brandli, Izabela Simon Rampasso, Rosley Anholon, Osvaldo Luiz Gonçalves Quelhas and Rudi Wessel Pretorius

This study aims to investigate the main areas in which researchers are focusing their efforts in terms of sustainability in higher education (curriculum, campus greening…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the main areas in which researchers are focusing their efforts in terms of sustainability in higher education (curriculum, campus greening, research, governance or outreach), the format in which this research is performed (in terms of individual or combined efforts) and the primary research focus (in terms of local or global issues).

Design/methodology/approach

Trends on sustainability research were investigated by means of an online survey – the World Survey on Sustainability Publishing and Research in Higher Education, which was disseminated among members of the European School of Sustainability Science and Research and the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme.

Findings

The survey collected responses from 103 researchers across over 40 countries. Three trends emerged: in spite of the intrinsic value of sustainability research in higher education, this area is not as mature as one could expect; the range of themes covered is wide and addresses a variety of areas; and individuals working alone is the most common means of doing research, whereas research at the university, department and faculty level appears to be less common.

Originality/value

The paper outlines some measures via which higher education institutions may be able to take more advantage of the many opportunities sustainability research offers to them.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 24 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 March 2016

Rudi Pretorius, Andrea Lombard and Anisa Khotoo

Inquiry-based approaches can potentially enrich sustainability learning in any educational context, more so in open and distance learning (ODL – perceived as theoretically…

3598

Abstract

Purpose

Inquiry-based approaches can potentially enrich sustainability learning in any educational context, more so in open and distance learning (ODL – perceived as theoretically inclined) and in regions of educational need (such as the Global South, of which Africa forms part). The purpose of this paper is to map the benefits and challenges of using inquiry-based learning (IBL), with reference to ODL and the value added by IBL in terms of education for sustainability (EfS) in Africa.

Design/methodology/approach

Evidence-based reflection is used to provide a narrative assessment of the experience gained with IBL in two undergraduate sustainability-focussed modules in the Department of Geography at the University of South Africa (Unisa), an ODL provider in Africa and the Global South.

Findings

Consideration of enabling and limiting factors indicates that although constraints are experienced, adoption of IBL approaches holds potential as pedagogic for EfS in Africa, due to grounding of learning in theory and applied to local places/contexts. This indicates a role for IBL to change perceptions regarding the lack of practical utility of ODL.

Originality/value

Implementing place-based and contextual IBL is innovative in ODL. It adds value to learning experiences and supports transformative learning, both important components of EfS and addressing a need in the African context. Practitioners will find the experience gained with implementation of IBL, coupled with possibilities associated with information and communication technologies, of value.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 2004

Rudi W. Pretorius

The department of geography and environmental studies of the University of South Africa recently played a pivotal role in implementing an inter‐ and multidisciplinary…

1080

Abstract

The department of geography and environmental studies of the University of South Africa recently played a pivotal role in implementing an inter‐ and multidisciplinary undergraduate programme in environmental management. This programme prepares students for entry‐level occupations, and equips them with the knowledge, skills and values needed to contribute to sustainable development. Both BA and BSc students are catered for, which contributes to the broadening of undergraduate education. This programme is unique because of its inclusion at undergraduate level and because it is offered through distance education. The teaching approach acknowledges that the causes of environmental problems are not simple, and are rooted in the nature of political, social and economic systems. It acknowledges that the solutions to environmental problems are equally complex, requiring not only specialist inputs, but also value and structural shifts. In line with the latest trends in education, a student‐activating approach is followed, with emphasis on real case studies, the flexible application of knowledge, and formative and integrated assessment. An overview is given of the experience that has been gained through designing and implementing this programme. This experience may serve to stimulate discussion on how to improve education and training in this field. The results of a pilot survey conducted among the students enrolled for this programme are presented. Their responses reflect a positive attitude to the programme, especially concerning the interconnectedness of modules, the fostering of environmental awareness, and its usefulness for career objectives.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 2004

Heila Lotz‐Sisitka

Introduces the special issue on “Stories of transformation” in higher education (HE). Highlights that transformation in HE involves multi‐disciplinary and applied orientations to…

1425

Abstract

Introduces the special issue on “Stories of transformation” in higher education (HE). Highlights that transformation in HE involves multi‐disciplinary and applied orientations to curriculum change, which break down the modernist dichotomy of theory and practice. Also highlights the significance of change processes that are value‐based and require the involvement of committed individuals and groups that are prepared to engage the often rhetorical nature of declarations and institutionalized commitments to sustainable development. Also highlights the absence of theorizing about change and action in institutional contexts amongst academics involved in transformation towards sustainable development in HE institutions.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 May 2021

Albert Mawonde and Muchaiteyi Togo

The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges faced by ODeL institutions to involve students in campus sustainable development goals (SDGs) related practices. Given that…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges faced by ODeL institutions to involve students in campus sustainable development goals (SDGs) related practices. Given that universities are mandated by several calls to participate in the implementation of SDGs, one way they can contribute to the SDGs paradigm is through the involvement of students.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected through interviewing the Campus Operations Manager and the Students Representative Council (SRC) to determine the challenges of involving students’ in SDGs-related practices. The SRC completed the USAT (Part C) to determine SDGs practices students are involved in. An online survey was undertaken to determine how BSc Environmental Management students are participating in SDGs and the challenges faced towards their involvement. Thematic analysis analysed interview data and descriptive statistics analysed online survey data. Credibility and reliability were enhanced by data triangulation.

Findings

The research revealed that few students were involved in some campus SDGs-related practices. Few students were involved in off-campus SDG projects. This result is attributed to the distance between the University of South Africa (Unisa) and the students, lack of finance, the misconception around SDGs and a lack of interest in SDGs. The geographical distribution of ODeL students was concluded as the major barrier to student involvement in SDGs.

Originality/value

There are few studies, which investigated the involvement of students in campus-related SDGs in universities, let alone distance universities in Africa. The paper testifies that ODeL institutions have avenues to involve students in SDGs if such institutions become proactive through campus SDGs competitions and certification.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 9 April 2021

Muchaiteyi Togo and Crecentia Pamidzai Gandidzanwa

Higher education can play a role in the implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, there are steps and structures which are necessary for this to be…

1049

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education can play a role in the implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, there are steps and structures which are necessary for this to be possible. This paper aims to establish how the University of Zimbabwe (UZ)’s innovation hub is implementing SDGs for water, energy and food, resources which are in critical shortage in Harare; as part of its mandate to implement the newly introduced Education 5.0.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on qualitative research. Interview guides were used to gather information from Harare residents, university staff and students. Observations were undertaken and review of secondary data was done. The data was collated into a narrative and content analysis was used to analyse it.

Findings

The UZ innovation hub is aimed to deliver Education 5.0. It houses research projects on energy and food. Water-related projects are still in the pipeline. The research revealed challenges that call for mobilisation of funding to support the projects, to protect researchers’ intellectual property rights and to strengthen interdisciplinary research and information flows between the university and the community. The paper argues for higher and tertiary education institutions to work directly with policymakers and societies in implementing SDGs.

Originality/value

Education 5.0 is relatively new and not much research has been done to establish how it intends to deliver its objectives. The innovation hub model has the potential to yield positive results in SDGs implementation. This research can motivate other universities to work with policymakers and communities in implementing SDGs for urban transformative adaptation.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

1 – 10 of 16