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Article
Publication date: 12 April 2022

Jared France, Julie Milovanovic, Tripp Shealy and Allison Godwin

This paper aims to explore the differences in first-year and senior engineering students’ engineering agency beliefs and career goals related to sustainable development

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the differences in first-year and senior engineering students’ engineering agency beliefs and career goals related to sustainable development. The authors also sought to understand how topics related to sustainable development in engineering courses affect senior engineering students’ goals to address these issues in their careers. This work provides evidence of how students’ agency beliefs may be shaped by higher education, which is essential to workforce development.

Design/methodology/approach

Findings stem from two national surveys of engineering first-year (Sustainability and Gender in Engineering, n = 7,709) and senior students (Student Survey about Career Goals, College Experiences, n = 4,605). The authors compared both groups using pairwise testing by class standing.

Findings

The results indicate that undergraduate studies tend to reinforce students’ engineering agency beliefs to improve their quality of life and preserve the environment. Significantly more senior students selected career goals to address environmental issues compared to first-year students. In general, students undervalue their roles as engineers in addressing issues related to social inequities. Those topics are rarely addressed in engineering courses. Findings from this work suggest discussing sustainability in courses positively impact setting career goals to address such challenges.

Research limitations/implications

The study compares results from two distinct surveys, conveyed at different periods. Nonetheless, the sample size and national spread of respondents across US colleges and universities are robust to offer relevant insights on sustainable development in engineering education.

Practical implications

Adapting engineering curriculum by ensuring that engineering students are prepared to confront global problems related to sustainable development in their careers will have a positive societal impact.

Social implications

This study highlights shortcomings of engineering education in promoting social and economic sustainability as related to the engineering field. Educational programs would benefit from emphasizing the interconnectedness of environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. This approach could increase diversity in engineering education and the industry, and by ripple effect, benefit the communities and local governance.

Originality/value

This work is a first step toward understanding how undergraduate experiences impact students’ engineering agency beliefs and career goals related to sustainability. It explores potential factors that could increase students’ engineering agency and goals to make a change through engineering.

Details

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

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 1 March 2022

Clinton Cassar

Introduction: Public administration has always been at the forefront of promoting sound and ethical values in society. The myriad of events that are shaping our world

Abstract

Introduction: Public administration has always been at the forefront of promoting sound and ethical values in society. The myriad of events that are shaping our world, such as global warming, deforestation, poverty and economic instability, calls for a shift from government to governance. This change demands a collaborative type of governance on the quest to implement sustainability. Collaborative governance can be initiated by its workforce, who are the individuals closest to the structures of public administration and can act as agents of change in this mission. Thus, personnel need to be equipped with the required knowledge, attitudes and skills, about and for, sustainable development. This can be addressed through education for sustainable development (ESD), a lifelong tool which requires adaption to national requirements, but most importantly to societal needs.

Aim: This research focusses on a longitudinal case study from the Maltese islands, the smallest state of the European Union. Since enacting the Sustainable Development Act in 2012, through which sustainable development has been mainstreamed in the Maltese public sector, never was the need felt to educate public officers for sustainable development. Hence, this research aims at shedding light on the curriculum design process of an education module called ‘Public Administration and Sustainability’ as part of a Bachelor of Art’s programme at the University of Malta.

Method: Framing an educational module in a tertiary institution requires tact in aligning the syllabus, not only to the pedagogical requirements, but also to the place of work. In this exploratory study, two research questions, each linked with a set of original hypotheses are tackled through a pool of data obtained from a variety of methodological tools employed, by analysing two important variables – the curriculum and the student. The former is reviewed through a content analysis exercise whereas feedback from the latter is scrutinised through a questionnaire.

Findings: Data triangulation demonstrates that the curriculum design of the educational module promotes a holistic learning experience, since it integrates effectively the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of the Bloom’s Taxonomy. Furthermore, the different student cohorts share common positive views about this module.

Originality of Study: Previous studies indicate that there is a lacuna in research regarding curriculum design and review, especially regarding sustainable development. This research is significant as it attempts at filling this void by scrutinising closely curriculum design in higher ESD.

Implications: Drawing upon the results, a number of recommendations are provided, among them is ‘The Multiplier Transformation Triad Model’, which portrays the institutional, educational and individual transformations needed to promote sustainability. Moreover, this research might provide more insights about governments’ commitment towards sustainability but should also serve useful to researchers or practitioners in various fields such as public administration, governance, sustainability and even higher education.

Details

Managing Risk and Decision Making in Times of Economic Distress, Part A
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-427-5

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 24 March 2022

Lise Janssens, Tom Kuppens, Ingrid Mulà, Egle Staniskiene and Anne B. Zimmermann

A transition toward sustainable development requires engagement of university students in transformative learning. Therefore, quality frameworks and processes should…

Abstract

Purpose

A transition toward sustainable development requires engagement of university students in transformative learning. Therefore, quality frameworks and processes should support deep approaches to sustainable development in higher education. Research and initiatives that connect sustainable development, higher education and quality assurance (QA) are lacking. This study aims to explore to what extent quality assurance agencies in Europe support transformative learning for sustainable development in their frameworks.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted a qualitative analysis of national QA frameworks in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) to assess whether they support transformative learning for sustainable development. First, frequency analysis was undertaken; second, a blended coding approach was used to investigate whether and how transformative learning for sustainable development is addressed.

Findings

Overall, the authors found little support for transformative learning for sustainable development in most QA frameworks. One exception is the framework of the United Kingdom, which includes a specific guide on education for sustainable development wherein transformative learning is prominently mentioned. To a lesser extent, some support exists in the frameworks of Estonia, Holy See, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine. Although the transformative learning for sustainable development approach is not explicitly mentioned in most QA frameworks, many of them contain opportunities to highlight it. France and The Netherlands offer guidelines and criteria for acquiring a sustainable development label, while Andorra suggests including the sustainable development goals in institutional quality assessment.

Originality/value

The research provides the first map of how countries within the EHEA support transformative learning for sustainable development in national QA systems.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 27 May 2020

Stefanie Mallow and Hilligje van’t Land

The Whole Institution Approach is part of UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development program. This chapter explores what a “Whole Institution Approach” is and what it…

Abstract

The Whole Institution Approach is part of UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development program. This chapter explores what a “Whole Institution Approach” is and what it translates to in different higher education institutions around the world. This chapter provides background information to understand the complexity of sustainable development in higher education and how universities engage with the United Nations Agenda 2030. This chapter is based on an autumn 2018 International Association of Universities qualitative study, which looked at how the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are changing the dynamics of universities. To illustrate the findings, this chapter presents five case studies highlighting different approaches to integrating sustainable development into the whole institution. This chapter shows that there is no one-size-fits-all approach; each university engages with sustainable development and the SDGs in its own way. Finally, this chapter explains what the 2030 Agenda can mean for higher education institutions and more specifically Whole Institution Approaches.

Details

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 26 March 2021

Suzanna Elmassah, Marwa Biltagy and Doaa Gamal

Higher education institutions (HEIs) should play a fundamental role in achieving the international 2030 sustainable development (SD) agenda. Quality education is the…

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education institutions (HEIs) should play a fundamental role in achieving the international 2030 sustainable development (SD) agenda. Quality education is the fourth of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and one of the targets related to this is to ensure that by 2030 all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote SD. Therefore, the SDGs provide a motive for HEIs to integrate SD concepts into their day-to-day practices. This study aims to introduce a framework for HEIs’ sustainable development assessment. Such a framework guides HEIs and educational leaders to support their countries’ commitments to achieving the SDGs.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents the results of a case study analysis of the role and successful techniques of HEIs in achieving SD in three countries, namely, Germany, Japan and Egypt. Primary data was collected by semi-structured interviews with three Cairo University officials, while secondary data was collected by reviewing the universities' official websites, reports, publications and related papers. This study introduces a novel framework for HEIs' SD analysis and assessment, which guides HEIs and educational leaders to support SD to fulfill their countries' commitments to achieving the SDGs. This framework is based on the following five categories: strategic direction and institutional working practices, supporting students, supporting university staff competencies, supporting society's stakeholders and networking and sustainable campus. Consideration is given to the potential role of HEIs to support SD in each of these areas.

Findings

Cairo University could learn from the novel and pioneer practices of the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, and the University of Tokyo to fill in the gaps it has in different roles. It can also put more effort into adopting the suggested higher education programs of Egypt's Vision 2030.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is limited to a case analysis comparing three countries, Germany, Japan and Egypt. Second, this study has not considered school education, which is equally essential in countries' SD.

Practical implications

HEIs can use the framework and the findings in this paper to evaluate their current roles in supporting SD, identify the gaps and take actions accordingly to address their weaknesses.

Originality/value

The paper compares three universities, one in each of the case study countries. It draws conclusions that identify ways in which the paper's framework and findings can guide SD practice in HEIs internationally, especially those in the developing world.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 12 May 2020

Vesna Nikolic, Tamara Vukic, Tatjana Maletaski and Milica Andevski

The purpose of this paper is to examine university students’ attitudes towards the concept of sustainable development and towards the need for the implementation of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine university students’ attitudes towards the concept of sustainable development and towards the need for the implementation of education for sustainable development into the higher education system. To that end, the paper explores in a process-oriented focus which drivers and barriers are experienced as being the most important ones and how they relate to one another.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on the questionnaire for the evaluation of attitudes towards the concept of sustainable development. This instrument consists of 9 batteries with 83 items presented in the form of the five-point Likert scale. The questionnaire evaluated different aspects of respondents’ attitudes towards the concept of sustainable development, but students’ attitudes in relation to the items from the following subscales will be presented for this paper: understanding the concept of sustainable development, position of sustainable development in the system of higher education, sources of information about sustainable development and entities responsible for sustainable development. The study sample consisted of students from the University of Novi Sad, specifically from the faculties with accredited programs in the field of humanities and technological sciences.

Findings

In general, students recognized the main determinants of sustainable development and they support an integral approach to sustainability, i.e. the need to include the knowledge, values and skills for sustainable development in the higher education programs. In addition, they identified a number of obstacles and the uncertainties of overcoming them. In this regard, the students did not recognize the responsibility of the higher education institutions as the key responsibility or their own responsibility in relation to sustainable development, which can be related to their feeling of marginalization and the doubt that their behaviour and decisions can influence the development of the local society, as well as the development of the society as a whole. On the other hand, the respondents acknowledged the role, the importance and the responsibility of the mass media in the process of developing the attitudes towards and opinions about the problems related to environmental protection and sustainable development.

Practical implications

The results of the study indicate the students’ attitudes towards sustainable development, thus making the directions for higher education reform clearer and in line with the present needs for sustainable development in Serbia. The obtained results can serve as a recommendation to the governing structures, i.e. to the relevant ministries of education and environmental protection, as well as to the universities in terms of which direction their process of planning and creating paths of sustainability should take. This is particularly important in the case of the Republic of Serbia, which is currently in the process of joining the European Union and responding to the requirements set by the process of negotiation for Chapter 27 in terms of improving the strategic framework and plans for the education for sustainable development and building the capacities in response to climate change. On the other hand, linking the results of this research with the results of similar studies around the world contributes to the further enrichment of the scientific knowledge base in this field and confirms the need for stronger and united efforts on the path to a sustainable future. It is a fact that, regardless of the national, economic, socio-political and cultural context, there is a global lack of success in shaping a humane and sustainable relationship between man and nature. Therefore, the results of this research should be considered as an invitation for new research initiatives regarding the ways to support the positive attitudes of students towards the concept of sustainable development and to facilitate their further development in the educational process, as well as in other academic domains.

Originality/value

This research is inspired by the fact that, in the Balkan countries, education for sustainable development has not been extensively discussed within the scientific discourse on higher education for sustainable development. This is one of the first papers to provide data about students’ attitudes towards the concept of sustainable development and the need for its implementation in the higher education system in Serbia. The value of the paper lies in its potential to help understand the role that different drivers and barriers play in higher education for sustainable development.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 January 2015

Walter Leal Filho, Evangelos Manolas and Paul Pace

This paper aims to provide a description of the achievements of the United Nations (UN) Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) with a focus on higher…

4015

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a description of the achievements of the United Nations (UN) Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) with a focus on higher education, and it describes some of the key issues which will guide sustainable development in the coming years.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper initially presents an analysis of past developments, complemented by an assessment of the emphasis on sustainable development by the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. In particular, it makes cross-references to the deliberations held at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012, with a special emphasis to the document “The Future we Want”. It concludes by listing a set of suggestions and measures that both industrialised and developing countries may consider to translate the principles of sustainable development into reality.

Findings

Sustainable development is and will continue to be a matter of substantial international interest and concern. The developments achieved over the past 20 years have been substantial, but there are still many gaps and need which need to be met, so as to improve its prospects in the next two decades.

Originality/value

The paper provides useful insights which allow a better understanding of the role of universities in fostering sustainable development, and some of the key issues need to be considered, so as to allow things to move in the right direction.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 February 2019

Annina Takala and Kati Korhonen-Yrjänheikki

The paper aims to examine the current status and development of sustainable development in Finnish engineering education.

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to examine the current status and development of sustainable development in Finnish engineering education.

Design/methodology/approach

The study consists of interviews with key stakeholders supplemented with the analysis of documented material. Development is discussed in relation to the findings of collaborative strategy process in the year 2009.

Findings

The paper observes that the Finnish universities providing engineering education are committed to sustainable development in their strategies. However, a lot of work remains to be done before the strategies are implemented and sustainable development is integrated to all degree programs. Explicit knowledge and individual learning in clearly defined disciplinary boundaries have been the main focus of engineering education.

Practical implications

The paper suggests that engineers need to be provided with mental tools to cope with uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Key competencies include holistic understanding, communication and collaboration skills, ability and willingness for critical and reflective thinking, creativity, innovativeness and entrepreneurship. Thus, collaborative learning, open dialogue and innovation are at the heart of education for sustainable development.

Originality/value

This paper has a relatively wide approach as it analyses sustainable development in the context of Finnish engineering education both on institutional and societal levels and is based on a national project.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 3 July 2017

Jonas Meyer, Marlene Mader, Friedrich Zimmermann and Ketrina Çabiri

The purpose of this paper is to examine sustainability-related challenges in the two Western Balkan countries – Albania and Kosovo. It discusses the opportunities of local…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine sustainability-related challenges in the two Western Balkan countries – Albania and Kosovo. It discusses the opportunities of local higher education institutions (HEIs) taking responsibility to tackle these challenges by providing professional development through science–society collaboration in innovative training sessions for university educators.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature review on actual challenges and transformations of higher education for sustainable development (ESD) in Albania and Kosovo will be the starting point of this paper. Subsequently, experiences from the on-going European Union (EU) project “ConSus” will be used to draw both a competence framework for ESD within science–society collaboration based on the training sessions, as well as possible scaling opportunities.

Findings

The paper draws possible approaches of training sessions for university educators promoting sustainable development and science–society collaboration in higher education. They will be concluded by addressing possible scaling opportunities of the project’s activities.

Practical implications

The experiences of the ConSus training sessions will outline competences of university educators in ESD gained in relation to transdisciplinary collaboration in research and teaching.

Originality/value

The paper will contribute to ESD approaches in higher education in Albania and Kosovo. Furthermore, scaling possibilities will be discussed to systematically implement ESD approaches also in higher hierarchical levels and other HEIs.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 18 no. 5
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

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