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Article
Publication date: 4 October 2021

Katrin Kohl, Charles Hopkins, Matthias Barth, Gerd Michelsen, Jana Dlouhá, Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Zainal Abidin Bin Sanusi and Isabel Toman

Higher education and its leadership are not yet using their potential impact for a sustainable future. This paper aims to focus on UN developments and the long history of…

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education and its leadership are not yet using their potential impact for a sustainable future. This paper aims to focus on UN developments and the long history of university involvement in sustainability might create more interest and understanding that sustainably oriented universities are actually possible and a much stronger role for higher education is needed when nations are discussing their future.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature review with a focus on international treaties and declarations on the UN level and international university networks, literature review of the background and potential of the whole-institution approach and the need/suggestions for further research, also to measure advancement.

Findings

History shows a strong engagement of higher education with sustainability from its beginnings. There have been strong calls/offers from within university networks to take a crucial role in moving towards sustainable development that involves more than teaching about sustainability. The international community calls for higher education to be involved in policymaking rather than simply implementation, have been limited and the full potential of higher education institutions using all opportunities such as being living labs for sustainability has not as yet been realized. Currently, calls for engagement are often still limited to training and providing research when scientific evidence is wanted.

Research limitations/implications

Literature review focused on UN level treaties/declarations English- and German-language review national developments limited to samples of members of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 subcluster in the Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) Global Cluster by the International Association of Universities (IAU).

Practical implications

Guidance for university leaders and other stakeholders to become aware of and consider a whole-institution approach. Practitioner relevance as countries is encouraged to embed UN recommendations, treaties and declarations. Defining opportunities for further research. Presenting the HESD Cluster by the IAU as a sample for new approaches of higher education to interact with the SDGs.

Social implications

Strengthening the role of higher education in the pursuit of a better future would focus on science and research as a neutral basis for decision-making and policy development. Sustainability embedded in all streams of university can help universities to be a practical example of the possibilities of sustainability at work.

Originality/value

Composition of authors with UN background and involvement. Focus on UN treaties/declarations and guidance for academics and practitioners in leadership on adopted UN and other international documents. Summarizing the background of the whole-institution approach as a genuine development over time but including limitations and implications for future roles for higher education leadership. IAU SDG 4 Subcluster is unique in its own approach and with its connections to a global network of higher education institutions and UNESCO.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 31 August 2021

Ibrahim El-Sayed Ebaid

The purpose of this study is to explore undergraduate accounting students' perceptions and understanding of the concept of sustainable development. Moreover, this study…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore undergraduate accounting students' perceptions and understanding of the concept of sustainable development. Moreover, this study aims to explore students' perceptions of the integration of sustainable development issues in accounting education in Saudi Arabia as an emerging country.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire survey was administered to a sample of accounting students from four Saudi universities. The questionnaire contained five groups of questions aimed at exploring the extent of students' awareness and understanding of the concept of sustainable development, their perceptions of the importance of sustainable development for society, their perceptions of the important role of accounting in sustainable development, their satisfaction with the level of integrating sustainable development issues in accounting education at the present time and their opinions about the appropriate approach to integrate sustainable development issues in accounting education.

Findings

The findings of the study revealed that although most of the students have heard about the concept of sustainable development from the media and perceive the importance of sustainable development for society, they have a low level of understanding of this concept due to the apparent weakness in integrating sustainable development issues in accounting education in Saudi universities. Students were unsatisfied with the sustainable development learning offered by Saudi universities. They also showed a positive attitude toward integrating sustainable development issues in their accounting education. They suggested that the appropriate approach to integrate sustainable development issues in accounting education is to treat these issues in the relevant courses included in their current accounting curricula.

Practical implications

The results of this study provide indications to the administrators of Saudi universities to start developing accounting curriculum to integrate sustainable development issues into accounting education. This will result in an increase in the effectiveness of the role of these universities in achieving the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the existing literature concerning how students perceive sustainable development education by focusing on the accounting students in Saudi Arabia as context that has not previously examined.

Details

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-7003

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 27 July 2021

Brooke Hansen, Peter Stiling and Whitney Fung Uy

As the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been widely adopted since 2015, higher education institutions (HEIs) are experimenting with ways they can be measured…

Abstract

Purpose

As the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been widely adopted since 2015, higher education institutions (HEIs) are experimenting with ways they can be measured, reported and incorporated into all realms of the university. In this process, the challenges of SDG integration into HEIs have become more evident, from lack of resources and sustainability literacy to having multiple disconnected programs that feature the SDGs.

Design/methodology/approach

A mixed methods approach using archival materials, literature reviews, interviews and participant observation has been adopted for a case study at a university in the process of adopting the SDGs in multiple areas.

Findings

The University of South Florida began with efforts to incorporate SDGs at the undergraduate level, such as the Global Citizens Project that brands both events and courses with SDGs. Institutional changes coupled with the launch of the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings provided more opportunities to have broader conversations about SDGs in all areas of campus.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2021

Orana Sandri and Sarah Holdsworth

This paper aims to draw on an in-depth qualitative case study of an undergraduate sustainability education course to show the extent of pedagogical reflection and teaching…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to draw on an in-depth qualitative case study of an undergraduate sustainability education course to show the extent of pedagogical reflection and teaching capability demonstrated in lived practice to support transformative, systemic and capability building learning processes, as advocated in the literature, for effective sustainability education.

Design/methodology/approach

Transformative learning and capability building are an essential part of sustainability education according to the growing body of literature. This approach to education, however, necessitates critical, learner-centred pedagogies which challenge traditional transmissive modes of teaching.

Findings

This paper finds that pedagogy which supports the learning experiences and outcomes advocated in sustainability education literature requires significant reflection on behalf of the educator and also motivation, capability and experience to do this, thus more research and academic support is needed which focusses on pedagogical development within sustainability education.

Originality/value

Literature on sustainability education often assumes that teachers are capable of reflecting on and transforming their pedagogical practice, and therefore, the pedagogical implications of sustainability education are often understated in research findings. This paper highlights why pedagogical reflection plays a crucial role in the effective implementation of sustainability education.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 17 June 2021

Kerry Shephard, Qudsia Kalsoom, Ritika Gupta, Lorenz Probst, Paul Gannon, V. Santhakumar, Ifeanyi Glory Ndukwe and Tim Jowett

Higher education is uncertain which sustainability-related education targets should be sought and monitored. Accepting that something needs to be measurable to be…

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education is uncertain which sustainability-related education targets should be sought and monitored. Accepting that something needs to be measurable to be systematically improved, the authors explored how measures relate to potential targets. This paper aims to focus on dispositions to think critically (active open-minded thinking and fair-minded thinking in appraising reasoning) as measures and explored how they related to sustainability concern as an indicative educational target.

Design/methodology/approach

This research included the development and testing of research instruments (scales) that explored dispositions to critical thinking and sustainability concern. Authors researched these instruments within their own correspondence groups and tested them with university students and staff in Pakistan, the USA, Austria, India and New Zealand. The authors also asked a range of contextualising questions.

Findings

Respondents’ disposition to aspects of active, open-minded thinking and fair-minded thinking do predict their concern about facets of sustainability but their strength of religious belief was an important factor in these relationships and in their measurement.

Practical implications

This research demonstrates the complexity of monitoring dispositions to think critically and sustainability concern in educational systems, particularly in circumstances where the roles of religious beliefs are of interest; and suggests ways to address this complexity.

Originality/value

This research integrates and expands discourses on ESD and on critical thinking in diverse disciplines and cultures. It investigates measurement approaches and targets that could help higher education institutions to educate for sustainable development and to monitor their progress, in ways that are compatible with their culture and values.

Details

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

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 8 April 2021

Janne J. Salovaara and Katriina Soini

The purpose of this paper is to expand the competence-led structuring and understanding of sustainability education by analysing the practices of professional individuals…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to expand the competence-led structuring and understanding of sustainability education by analysing the practices of professional individuals who have completed university education geared to the development of sustainability change-makers.

Design/methodology/approach

The research scope was initially on examining professional practices following the boundary work theory. Social practice theory was used as a methodological approach in conducting and analysing thematic interviews with 19 sustainability-focused master’s programme alumni. The interviews were analysed against the theoretical framework while also noting findings that fell outside of this framework.

Findings

A framework for understanding materials, competences and meanings of practices connected to the professional field of sustainability was introduced. The framework suggests that in the practices of sustainability-educated professionals, meanings emerge as a top priority and are conveyed using position-based materials and various complexes of competency.

Research limitations/implications

The authors suggest that boundary theory informs well the emergence of the professional field of sustainability, and the utilisation of a practice theory furthers the understanding of sustainability professionalism and its education.

Practical implications

The authors’ suggest that practice theory could thus provide deeper insights on how sustainability science alumni use their education after graduation, how they practice their profession and in return offer applicable reflections to sustainability education.

Originality/value

Research using practice theory in reflection on sustainability education and the professional practice of sustainability has not been widely conducted and in the authors’ opinion brings value to the education and practice of sustainability and to the research of sustainability education.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 13 July 2020

Glenda Crosling, Graeme Atherton, Munir Shuib, Asyirah Abdul Rahim, Siti Norbaya Azizan and Mohammad Izzamil Mohd Nasir

This chapter discusses the findings of a study at a public university in Malaysia, which reflect the country’s evolving situation regarding sustainability education. The…

Abstract

This chapter discusses the findings of a study at a public university in Malaysia, which reflect the country’s evolving situation regarding sustainability education. The study aimed to explore the knowledge of and attitudes to sustainability of the academic staff at the university, and the pedagogical approaches they used in curricula. Through a mixed method approach, primary data were collected through an online quantitative survey containing 90 statements related to Education for Sustainable Development Goals, knowledge, attitudes, pedagogical techniques, and learning objectives. Following the survey, a focus group discussion was conducted involving several academic staff from the university to explore their perspectives on current sustainability teaching practices and to identify emerging issues. Findings revealed that there were generally positive levels of understandings and attitudes among the academic staff toward education on sustainability development (ESD). Furthermore, the staff agreed highly with ESD learning objectives, and various pedagogical approaches were in use. These are important findings as the levels of awareness and attitudes among academics play a key role in shaping successful implementation of a range of pedagogical techniques for ESD goals. As well as the challenges identified in the study, the chapter puts forward useful insights and key aspects to enhance ESD practices at all levels in the country. Options for policy and practice to move beyond sustainable development as a goal or aspiration for teaching and learning to a practical and pedagogical reality of ESD practices in Malaysian higher education institutions are also discussed.

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Book part
Publication date: 18 March 2020

Alice Cassidy, Yona Sipos and Sarah Nyrose

There is a growing need to train and support educators to introduce or enhance aspects of sustainability into post-secondary curriculum. The authors provide an overview of…

Abstract

There is a growing need to train and support educators to introduce or enhance aspects of sustainability into post-secondary curriculum. The authors provide an overview of integration of curricular sustainability development and education as well as related institutional leadership at the post-secondary level. Turning to educational development for sustainability education, the authors share tools and resources to support educators from any discipline, to introduce, integrate, and/or enhance sustainability in their course, program, or initiative. The authors found very few examples of workshops to post-secondary teachers. For one such example, the Sustainability Education Intensive, a three-day workshop that the authors designed and led at the University of British Columbia. The authors summarize the workshop aspects that two years of participants found helpful, and how workshop involvement affected them as sustainability educators. The authors encourage post-secondary institutions to provide support in the form of workshops, resources, and funding to help educators introduce or enhance aspects of sustainability into their courses and programs. Students are asking for this, and, as they are future leaders, it is important that educators address the numerous environmental, social and economic issues that demand attention.

Details

Integrating Sustainable Development into the Curriculum
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-941-0

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Book part
Publication date: 23 June 2020

Jessica Ostrow Michel

To date, higher education frameworks for teaching and learning are not designed to focus on interdisciplinary subject matters like sustainability. Consequently, based on…

Abstract

To date, higher education frameworks for teaching and learning are not designed to focus on interdisciplinary subject matters like sustainability. Consequently, based on an in-depth literature review, this chapter presents a theoretical framework for teaching and learning about sustainability. Within this framework, it is posited that opportunity to learn (OTL) about sustainability can directly influence promising practices of teaching and learning about sustainability (including both cognitively responsive teaching and teaching for sustainability) along with transformative sustainability learning outcomes. Additionally, it is posited that OTL can indirectly affect transformative sustainability learning outcomes by directly influencing promising practices of teaching and learning about sustainability. This in turn directly influences transformative sustainability learning outcomes. Implications from this framework offer a distinctive way to frame sustainability-specific subject matter and teaching practices. With respect to practice, this framework can provide critical information to instructors about how to teach sustainability. With regards to conceptual contributions, this framework can guide further research through this precise framing of discussions, as well as guiding data collection and analyses. Also, scholars can continue to examine the framework for facets that are most important, and continue to fine-tune it as it further develops and demonstrates its viability.

Details

Civil Society and Social Responsibility in Higher Education: International Perspectives on Curriculum and Teaching Development
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-464-4

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 13 July 2020

Sandra Mohr and Howard Purcell

This chapter explores sustainable development of leadership strategies as a social framework in higher education to help with defining, implementing, and envisioning a…

Abstract

This chapter explores sustainable development of leadership strategies as a social framework in higher education to help with defining, implementing, and envisioning a sustainable future. Leaders need to develop a sustainable approach for higher education that involves all stakeholders who benefit from having educated citizens to develop common interests that develop and promote sustainable objectives that focus on shared values. An educationally sustainable approach extends beyond a current leader’s time at the institution to continue stable growth and long-term approaches around making decisions, fostering systemic innovation, developing an engaged workforce, and providing quality services and solutions. Leaders need to link sustainable strategies to the school’s mission, values, and finances to help gain consensus and align the decision-making process. In an effort to develop leaders and programs around educational sustainability, governmental organizations have been established to help develop policies and programs to create a sustainable future. Additionally, professional organizations have formed that allow leaders a chance to connect, grow skills, and lead sustainability initiatives. And, higher education institutions have created offices focused around sustainability on campus and educational programs around sustainability leadership to help develop future leaders that are able to take action based on sustainability values and creating an inclusive and reflective process for decision-making. Sustainable leadership has the power to transform society through reorienting the educational system to help people develop knowledge, skills, values, and behaviors for an ever-changing world.

Details

Introduction to Sustainable Development Leadership and Strategies in Higher Education
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-648-9

Keywords

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