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Article
Publication date: 7 October 2021

Fermín Sánchez-Carracedo, Daniel Romero-Portillo, Bàrbara Sureda Carbonell and Francisco Manuel Moreno-Pino

This paper aims to present a methodology for analysing the extent to which students of a university degree perceive that they have received a good education for…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a methodology for analysing the extent to which students of a university degree perceive that they have received a good education for sustainable development (ESD). The methodology enables us to quantify this perception, which, in turn, allows us to determine: to what extent the objectives related to ESD are achieved in the degree, and to compare the learning in ESD perceived by students of different degrees. The methodology is applied to nine engineering degrees and nine education degrees in the Spanish university system.

Design/methodology/approach

ESD is analysed from the students’ learning perception. This perception is measured by comparing the responses of first- and fourth-year students to a questionnaire about their sustainability competencies. Two indicators have been designed to analyse the results. The first indicator, learning increase, measures the declared learning difference between fourth- and first-year students. The second indicator, learning percentage, measure the amount of learning as reported by fourth-year students compared to how much they could have learned.

Findings

The results show that the average learning percentage perceived by students is higher in engineering degrees (33%) than in education degrees (27%), despite the fact that the average learning increase declared by students at the end of their studies in both areas of knowledge is similar (66%). Engineering students report having achieved higher learning than education students in all sustainability competencies, with the exception of ethics.

Originality/value

This paper analyses ESD from the student’s perspective. Furthermore, to the knowledge of the authors, this is the first study that compares the perception of ESD between engineering and education students. This comparison allows us to determine the different approaches that university Professors take to ESD according to the discipline they teach.

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 27 January 2021

Vanessa R. Levesque and Cameron P. Wake

The purpose of this study is to examine how the process of creating and implementing sustainability competencies across a university illuminate dynamics of organizational…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine how the process of creating and implementing sustainability competencies across a university illuminate dynamics of organizational change. The push to advance education for sustainable development in higher education will likely require transformation of existing policies and practices. A set of shared sustainability competencies could guide the integration of sustainability throughout an institution.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reports on a case study of one US university, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) that developed institutional-level sustainability competencies. The process used to create and implement sustainability competencies is outlined, and key factors that influenced the associated organizational change are identified.

Findings

Very few US universities have institutional-level sustainability competencies. At UNH, drivers of organizational change such as overcoming disciplinary boundaries, developing a common vision and working from the bottom-up enabled the creation of institutional sustainability competencies, but the same processes were not enough to drive deeper implementation of the competencies.

Originality/value

This paper not only identifies the context-specific drivers of the development of institutional sustainability competencies, but also identifies universal themes that can be applied to other institutions embarking on a similar process. Additionally, this paper serves as a foundation for future research exploring how the process of creating institutional sustainability competencies may be linked to how effective they are in shaping subsequent sustainability education.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 20 February 2020

Anete Alberton, Ana Paula Kieling, Franciane Reinert Lyra, Estela Maria Hoffmann, Mariana Pires Vidal Lopez and Silvio Roberto Stefano

This study analyzes the competencies toward sustainability in hotel facilities in order to identify the level of implementation of sustainability practices, as well as…

Abstract

Purpose

This study analyzes the competencies toward sustainability in hotel facilities in order to identify the level of implementation of sustainability practices, as well as individual competencies for sustainability in the hospitality companies.

Design/methodology/approach

Interviews and a survey with hotel employees were conducted in two important touristic Brazilian cities, Florianopolis, and Rio de Janeiro, considering the TBL (triple bottom line) dimensions. The data were analyzed with content analysis and descriptive statistics and conjoint analysis.

Findings

Preventive competencies in the companies' management were identified. The research also revealed that competencies for sustainability are fairly present in the hospitality context yet, which demonstrates the urgency to discuss the theme in both academic and business practices.

Research limitations/implications

The access to the hotel managers impaired the performing of a robust statistical analysis; the study provided new insights about the topics investigated and generated information for the theoretical framework about competencies for sustainability.

Practical implications

The research results emphasized the need for the hotel industry to invest in sustainable strategies to meet its target audience, but also to raise the level of its staff and reduce costs in the long term, offering benefits to society, the environment, and, to their businesses.

Social implications

The research socially contributes through promoting discussion on sustainability, which is one of the most challenging and relevant issues for society. Besides, it can assist the diffusion of the competencies for sustainability in the hotel industry, as an attempt to decrease their negative externalities on the environment and primary audiences.

Originality/value

It was identified a distance between practice and the triple bottom line concept, which is linked only to environmental practices. Besides, it was found limited knowledge about the concepts of competencies in the companies.

Details

Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 26 March 2019

Clare D’Souza, Silvia McCormack, Mehdi Taghian, Mei-Tai Chu, Gillian Sullivan-Mort and Tanvir Ahmed

Curricula is developing from a pure knowledge-based outcome to a more skill-based outcome, with the objective of creating and advancing competencies that meet employer…

Abstract

Purpose

Curricula is developing from a pure knowledge-based outcome to a more skill-based outcome, with the objective of creating and advancing competencies that meet employer expectations. While the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demand organisations to change practices and adapt to sustainable goals, there is a lack of understanding in how competencies can enhance these goals. The purpose of this paper is twofold: Study 1 explores competencies related to sustainability required in a work force and examines employer perceptions on the existing literature for competencies. Study 2 empirically tests the influence of sustainability scholarship on non-technical competencies in the work force.

Design/methodology/approach

A mixed method approach was undertaken. A sample of managers from 39 large Australian organisations participated in the scoping study. This was followed by further interviewing executives from 12 multinational corporations in China to assess the validity of competencies and provide deeper understanding of the issues at hand. The quantitative study analysed a sample of executive responses from 229 multinationals in China using factor and regression analysis to test for the effects of mediation.

Findings

The research highlights that the underlying competencies regarding sustainability influences the bigger picture within firms for attaining sustainability. The affective and cognitive growth of sustainability scholarship is governed mainly by a firm’s sustainable values. Core organisational values facilitate the development of non-technical competencies. These relationships and their cumulative effect on competencies provide a theoretical framework for acquiring sustainability within organisations. Employees need sustainability scholarship for enhancing sustainability. Sustainability scholarship reflects high-level learning obtained through universities or training. The research found that non-technical competencies such as professional ethical responsibility mediate between core business competencies and sustainability scholarship.

Originality/value

By exploring employer’s perception of competencies, the study first makes an important contribution in addressing the need to support SDGs by bridging organisational-level competencies and sustainability literacy, which hold significant benefits for practitioners, academia and organisations at large. Second, the theoretical findings strengthen the need for embedding competencies in the curriculum. It conveys the need for sustainability literacy/scholarship to align with organisational training and learning pedagogies, in order to effectively meet industry needs. Third, it provides useful insights on employers’ estimation about workplace competencies and broadens our understanding on the contribution that competencies within organisations make to this end.

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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…

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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

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Article
Publication date: 11 February 2014

Sherein H. Abou- Warda

– This study aims to explore the relation between barriers and project sustainability by adding competencies in the mediating role.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the relation between barriers and project sustainability by adding competencies in the mediating role.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses a mediation model including project sustainability as the dependent variable, sustainability barriers as the independent variable and project managers' sustainability competencies as the mediator variable. Data were gathered from project managers, executive teams, and experts/advisors, working in Egyptian higher education enhancement projects (HEEPs) using self-administered questionnaires; the total number collected was 159, representing a response rate of 93.5 percent. Correlations and multiple regression analysis were employed to analyze the mediation impact of project manager's sustainability competencies.

Findings

The results indicate that sustainability competencies mediate the relation between barriers to sustainability and project sustainability. Sustainability competencies facilitate project achievements, and the sustainability and future expansion of these achievements. The analysis suggests that “continuous competencies” are extremely important, more so than “self-competencies”.

Research limitations/implications

This study was undertaken at the level of the projects management unit in the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education, which manages the HEEPs.

Practical implications

The analysis helps to understand the complex and nuanced nature of the projects; these are distinguished when the author considers the different practices.

Originality/value

This study offers two principal contributions: first, a guideline for the development, measurement, and application of an uncommon concept of project sustainability; second, a concept of project managers' sustainability competencies and barriers to sustainability.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2019

Sloan Peter Trad

Sustainability within tertiary curriculum is hard to measure and often perceived to be illusive in nature. Existing higher education sustainability assessment tools rarely…

Abstract

Purpose

Sustainability within tertiary curriculum is hard to measure and often perceived to be illusive in nature. Existing higher education sustainability assessment tools rarely focus on the curriculum. This paper aims to establish and implement a tool that can measure sustainability integration within curriculum. The Faculty of Engineering and IT (FEIT) at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is used as a case study.

Design/methodology/approach

A set of seven sustainability competencies are identified by means of a systematic literature review as the current knowledge of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) competencies. ESD competency integration into the curriculum is assessed by implementing a two-tier scanning mechanism. In the first step, subject outlines (SOs) are used to identify sustainable subject learning outcomes (SLOs) and assessment learning outcomes (ALOs). Step 2 involves analysing ALOs and SLOs for constructive alignment with student experience. SPSS, a statistical software, is then used to statistically reflect the results.

Findings

An initial scan of SOs found that stated ESD outcomes made up 22.4 per cent of FEIT undergraduate courses. A more detailed investigation which involved assessing subject material and student experience for the seven ESD outcomes resulted in a 7.7 per cent sustainability integration into the FEIT undergraduate courses. SPSS produced tables showing individual competency distribution over course candidature year. Lifecycle assessment was invisible from the curriculum.

Research limitations/implications

Case study outcomes are limited to UTS, and therefore, specific-study outcomes cannot be generalised. This study attempted to trace sustainability learning outcomes through the curriculum. However, a more detailed study should also assess subject pedagogy and artefacts as these may enable or inhibit sustainability competency.

Originality/value

Study developed several methods to establish and evaluate subject level ESD claims. Academic staff and management are able to replicate methods of this study to map ESD within their courses, schools and/or faculties triggering conversation around ESD’s actual integration within curriculum. Based on ESD distribution, specific intervention recommendations are proposed.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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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…

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1161

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

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Article
Publication date: 11 June 2021

Pascal Frank

Despite advances in Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) scholarship and practice, ESE has not yet contributed to mitigate the sustainability-related problems…

Abstract

Purpose

Despite advances in Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) scholarship and practice, ESE has not yet contributed to mitigate the sustainability-related problems it is meant to remedy. As part of an explanation, some scholars have argued that current ESE scholarship and practice overemphasizes intellectual and neglects (intra-)personal competencies as envisaged learning outcomes of ESE learning programs and activities. To date, however, such personal competencies have not been systematically specified in terms of the challenges they are meant to respond to. This paper aims to derive personal competencies from an analysis of inner challenges individuals face when engaging with the cause of sustainable consumption.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is conceptual and proceeds in two steps: In the first step, it analyzes existing research on challenges individuals experience when intending to change their consumer behavior and engaging in consumption-related learning activities. In a second step, a set of personal competencies for sustainable consumption are derived from the analysis of challenges. Based on the set of competencies, suggestions for future research empirically corroborating the reflections of this paper are made.

Findings

The discussion of challenges indicates that both sustainable consumption and consumption-related learning activities can come along with a series of affective-motivational challenges. In contrast to established competency frameworks, personal competencies emphasize the importance of affective-motivational learning outcomes instead of intellectual ones. They are defined here as abilities, proficiencies or skills related to inner states and processes that can be considered necessary to engage with the cause of sustainability. Personal competencies responding to the inner challenges of engaging with sustainable consumption include ethics, self-awareness, emotional resilience, self-care, access to and cultivation of ethical qualities and mindsets for sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

Given that this paper is conceptual, further research is needed to empirically inquire into the importance of personal competencies for sustainable consumption and corroborate the provided reflections. Furthermore, the study has not responded to some of the concerns a few ESE experts have expressed concerning the concept of (intra-)personal competencies more generally. To address these concerns, future research should be dedicated to empirically validating and operationalizing personal competencies, eventually leading to tools allowing for a systematic assessment of these competencies. Based on such assessment tools, pedagogical formats should be elaborated and evaluated with regard to their potential to stimulate personal sustainability competencies.

Originality/value

The concept of personal competencies explicitly acknowledges that current unsustainability is associated with the experience of inner, affective-motivational challenges. ESE learning programs and activities should prepare learners for these challenges. However, a specification of these inner challenges and corresponding personal competencies has not yet been undertaken. The set of personal competencies outlined in this paper can serve as a first starting point for specifying personal sustainability competencies and makes a case why their consideration is important when it comes to designing and evaluating ESE learning programs and activities.

Details

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

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Book part
Publication date: 17 April 2018

Emilio Boulianne and S. Leanne Keddie

This study explores how Canadian CPAs (Chartered Professional Accountants) are trained in sustainability. The main research questions are: What place should sustainability

Abstract

Purpose

This study explores how Canadian CPAs (Chartered Professional Accountants) are trained in sustainability. The main research questions are: What place should sustainability take in the accounting program? What place does sustainability occupy in the CPA accounting program? And, over time, has sustainability gained or lost ground within the Canadian professional accounting education program?

Methodology/approach

Content analysis and interviews.

Findings

We find that sustainability is not a key component of the CPA education program since its sustainability content has shrunk over the years. We believe that the groupthink phenomenon may have influenced the selection of CPA Competency Map participants (whose backgrounds reveal a lack of sustainability expertise) as well as the participants’ discussions. Additionally, a lack of consideration for society as a key stakeholder may have also influenced the shortage of sustainability content. Finally, power dynamics might have contributed to the financial accounting and reporting competencies dominating the new map.

Research limitations

We did not have access to the live meetings when the Map was created, although we conducted interviews with representatives involved in the process. This research is bound by a confidentiality agreement that limits us from providing sensitive details. However, we do not consider that these limitations undermine our contribution or reduce the relevance of our research.

Originality/value

Our research contributes to the under-researched domain of sustainability education and to understanding how groupthink, stakeholder theory and power dynamics may have contributed to the dearth of sustainability coverage in the new Canadian CPA program.

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