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Book part

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

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Article

Stephanos Anastasiadis, Stephanie Perkiss, Bonnie A. Dean, Leopold Bayerlein, Maria Alejandra Gonzalez-Perez, Alec Wersun, Pilar Acosta, Hannah Jun and Belinda Gibbons

Sustainability is one of the leading challenges of our age, and higher education plays a vital role in supporting the implementation of sustainability initiatives. There…

Abstract

Purpose

Sustainability is one of the leading challenges of our age, and higher education plays a vital role in supporting the implementation of sustainability initiatives. There has been substantial progress in business schools introducing sustainability into courses with extant literature detailing case studies of sustainability education and student perceptions of their learning. The purpose of this paper is to address the gap in literature from educators' perspectives on their experiences of introducing sustainability teaching using specific teaching tools for sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a case study on a sustainability teaching tool, WikiRate, that was embedded into business and management courses at seven higher education institutions from across the globe. Interviews were conducted after course delivery to gain insights into the practical challenges of designing and implementing a sustainability education activity.

Findings

The findings show that educators perceive sustainability as a complex issue, presenting a challenge to teaching in university systems whose normative curricula are rooted in instrumental problem-solving. Furthermore, educators described challenges to their own learning in order to implement sustainability into curricula including the need for compromises and adaptions.

Originality/value

This empirical study reports on educators' experiences embedding sustainability into their courses through an innovative teaching tool, WikiRate. This paper has implications for reframing how we can approach sustainability education and presents discussion ways to teach complexity without reduction or simplification.

Details

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-7003

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Article

Jeffrey M. Widener, Travis Gliedt and Ashlee Tziganuk

This study aims to understand if geographers, who teach in a new sustainability program, are conveying new knowledge, understanding, skills and competence about the…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to understand if geographers, who teach in a new sustainability program, are conveying new knowledge, understanding, skills and competence about the integrated and holistic concept of “sustainability”, rather than individual human-environmental issues to the students. In other words, are geography professors creating effective sustainability courses in a department with a rich history in geography education?

Design/methodology/approach

This study utilizes the McKeown–Ice and Dendinger comprehensive assessment tool for sustainability teaching to examine how geographers teach sustainability from an integrated and holistic perspective. Surveys with students are used to evaluate and compare how effective three geography courses were at teaching sustainability.

Findings

The results suggest that each course was effective in teaching students the main concepts of sustainability. There were, however, differences in teaching practical solutions to achieve sustainability and in the coverage of the causes of sustainability problems. Geographers might consider altering their curriculum or pedagogy to build stronger interdisciplinary linkages to teach the integrated concepts of sustainability rather than its individual parts.

Research limitations/implications

This initial study focuses on one research university in the USA. Its proof of concept will be expanded to evaluate international sustainability education programs nested in existing departments and degree programs.

Originality/value

Sustainability education programs are being created across the globe and are often attached to existing degree programs exhibiting components of sustainability. How effective are they in teaching this interdisciplinary concept? This study validates a framework for assessing sustainability teaching and learning. It recommends changes to enhance the ability for integrated sustainability education programs to comprehensively teach sustainability.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article

Ashlee Tziganuk and Travis Gliedt

This study aims to examine and compare faculty perceptions of the process of institutionalizing sustainability, developing sustainability pedagogy and activating key…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine and compare faculty perceptions of the process of institutionalizing sustainability, developing sustainability pedagogy and activating key sustainability competencies between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Arizona State University (ASU).

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 professors in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at OU and 10 professors in the School of Sustainability at ASU.

Findings

The results highlight the complexity of teaching sustainability in an interdisciplinary manner in both programs. Professors are incorporating many of the key competencies of sustainability teaching, but in a patchwork manner that does not necessary follow the comprehensive frameworks from the literature.

Practical implications

The comparative analysis leads to recommendations for teaching sustainability in higher education.

Originality/value

This study contributes to theories of sustainability teaching by identifying gaps between what professors are actually doing and experiencing and a set of best practices from the literature.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 18 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Book part

Patrick Baughan

The Anthropocene is commonly explained as a current epoch that began when human activities started bearing a major impact on the natural world. As an area of study, it has…

Abstract

The Anthropocene is commonly explained as a current epoch that began when human activities started bearing a major impact on the natural world. As an area of study, it has a logical disciplinary home, addressed widely in geology (Gibbard & Walker, 2014). However, it is also gaining traction in other disciplines, especially the social sciences (Bonneuil & Fressoz, 2017). In most accounts, it involves examining how the relationship between humans and the planet has changed and what can be done to monitor the balance.

Sustainability represents a more familiar challenge and discussion area in higher education. Nevertheless, two areas of questioning about it endure: what is sustainability and should students be taught about it? One established account is the “three-pillar model” which presents sustainability as an intersection of economic, social, and environmental issues (Brundtland Report, 1987). There are, however, different views as to how sustainability curriculum change should be implemented (Hopkinson, Hughes, & Layer, 2008; Stubbs & Schapper, 2011) but students appear to want sustainability better represented in their institutions (Drayson, Bone, Agombar, & Kemp, 2013).

This chapter considers whether the relatively recent focus on the Anthropocene can help us develop sustainability teaching in higher education. My project draws on desk-based research, comprising a review of academic sources on the Anthropocene and on sustainability, as well as teaching materials on these areas. The author also draws on five conversations with staff involved in teaching and researching the Anthropocene.

The outcomes point to some support for further teaching about the Anthropocene and in a way which links to sustainability, and the author argues that as a concept and proposition, the Anthropocene has important potential for informing future sustainability teaching. However, the relationship between the Anthropocene and sustainability needs exploring further in follow-up research with both staff and learners.

Details

Teaching and Learning Strategies for Sustainable Development
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-639-7

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Article

Nicholas C Coops, Jean Marcus, Ileana Construt, Erica Frank, Ron Kellett, Eric Mazzi, Alison Munro, Susan Nesbit, Andrew Riseman, John Robinson, Anneliese Schultz and Yona Sipos

Delivery of sustainability-related curriculum to undergraduate students can be problematic due to the traditional “siloing” of curriculum by faculties along disciplinary…

Abstract

Purpose

Delivery of sustainability-related curriculum to undergraduate students can be problematic due to the traditional “siloing” of curriculum by faculties along disciplinary lines. In addition, while there is often a ready availability of courses focused on sustainability issues in the later years of students’ programs, few early entry-level courses focused on sustainability, broad enough to apply to all disciplines, are available to students in the first year of their program.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, we describe the development, and preliminary implementation, of an entry-level, interdisciplinary sustainability course. To do so, the authors describe the development of a university-wide initiative designed to bridge units on campus working and teaching in sustainability areas, and to promote and support sustainability curriculum development.

Findings

The authors describe the conceptual framework for organising course content and delivery. The authors conclude with an informal assessment of the successes and challenges, and offer learning activities, student assessments and course administration recommendations for consideration when developing courses with similar learning goals.

Originality/value

The positive and negative experiences gained through developing and offering a course of this nature, in a large research-focused university, offers knew insights into potential barriers for implementing first-year cross-cutting sustainability curriculum.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article

Janette Brunstein, Mark Edward Walvoord and Ed Cunliff

The purpose of this study is to examine the possible benefits of approaching sustainability-related teaching cases from the perspective of problem-posing (PP) instead of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the possible benefits of approaching sustainability-related teaching cases from the perspective of problem-posing (PP) instead of problem-solving (PS).

Design/methodology/approach

A document analysis methodology (Silverman, 2011) was used to analyze sustainability teaching case study abstracts and learning objectives from business databases. Cases were reviewed and classified as PP, PS or other. PP cases were further subclassified on one of three axes.

Findings

Of 117 cases reviewed, most were PS (66%) with only 9% PP. Theoretical and pedagogical implications are discussed with recommendations for writing or converting, PS to PP cases for classroom use. Theoretical contributions include identification of three distinct and complementary views of PP, described in these axes: emancipatory; problematizing metaphors and premises; and rational, process and means-focused cases, not triggering transformative learning theory. Of 10 cases classified as PP cases, 3 were subclassified as emancipatory.

Research limitations/implications

This research is limited to case study titles containing “sustainability” and analyses of their descriptions and learning objectives only. Next phases of the research will examine differences in student learning between PS and PP in situ.

Practical implications

The research identifies a unique approach to the authoring and use of case studies that hold the potential for increasing students’ critical thinking capabilities and production of solutions to sustainability issues.

Originality/value

There is limited research and analysis of the identification and implications of using PP pedagogy.

Details

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

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Article

Jason B. Walker and Michael W. Seymour

This paper aims to investigate the design charrette as a method for teaching sustainability.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the design charrette as a method for teaching sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper utilizes a student‐based design charrette for the Mississippi Gulf Coast comprising a framework for teaching sustainability. An assessment of the charrette's role in promoting sustainability in higher education was ascertained through respondents completing pre‐ and post‐charrette surveys.

Findings

The paper provides survey results that shed light on the effectiveness of the charrette as an approach for teaching sustainability in higher education.

Research limitations/implications

This research indicates that a charrette framed with criteria for teaching sustainability is viable. However, the study has limitations owing to the project's scope and its being a single‐case sample.

Practical implications

The paper shows that actively engaging students in interdisciplinary, service‐oriented projects is of value in teaching concepts of sustainability in higher education.

Originality/value

The paper addresses the need for sustainability in higher education, focusing on disciplines of design, by assessing the effectiveness of a well‐accepted design teaching approach, the charrette.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Book part

Enakshi Sengupta, Patrick Blessinger and Tasir Subhi Yamin

One of the most important issues plaguing our planet is the depletion of natural resources and climate change, creating new disasters, and global challenges. The…

Abstract

One of the most important issues plaguing our planet is the depletion of natural resources and climate change, creating new disasters, and global challenges. The international community has expressed its anguish and concern for these problems through several international forums and treaties. As a response, Education for Sustainable Development is a program that aims to educate students on these issues. Teaching sustainability to young graduates needs to be holistic and pluralistic in nature. Discourses and modules on sustainability help in making them sustainability conscious which will enhance the competencies of people and help them to live and act in a more sustainable way. This book has several chapters written by academics across the globe who have spoken about their experience of incorporating sustainability into their curriculum and adopting various pedagogical approach that has helped their students to learn and understand the subject. Sustainability has been part of the teaching and learning in general, and as part of management, engineering, medical, and design courses, for instance. This book helps us to understand how such teaching and learning strategies can be made more effective for students.

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Book part

Margaret Jollands

There is a growing demand in industry for engineering graduates who can think “sustainably.” However, there are many barriers to developing assessment that fosters…

Abstract

There is a growing demand in industry for engineering graduates who can think “sustainably.” However, there are many barriers to developing assessment that fosters sustainability learning in engineering classrooms. There is no consensus on the definition of sustainability and its key competencies and teaching resources are limited.

Staff are unclear about what to teach, how to teach, and how to assess learning. Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning and should be planned from the earliest stages, but this is rarely done. Engineering relies heavily on traditional assessments such as tests and examinations, but these are known to encourage surface learning. Sustainability is complex, multidisciplinary, and needs context, which requires higher-order thinking characteristic of deep learning.

Current assessment types for sustainability include examinations, case study, concept maps, and project-based learning. However, more research is needed to develop best practice assessments. Recommendations for teaching approach are to use a rigorous approach to instructional design, use a systems approach, and use a teaching model that promotes deep learning, incorporates context, and promotes alignment of learning objectives and assessment. Community-oriented assessments are recommended that feature the interdisciplinarity and complexity of sustainability and promote higher-order thinking.

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