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Journal cover: International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Online from: 2000

Subject Area: Education

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Pathways towards sustainability through higher education

Document Information:
Title:Pathways towards sustainability through higher education
Author(s):Anne Sibbel, (School of Applied Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Citation:Anne Sibbel, (2009) "Pathways towards sustainability through higher education", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 10 Iss: 1, pp.68 - 82
Keywords:Consumers, Curriculum development, Graduates, Higher education, Sustainable development
Article type:General review
DOI:10.1108/14676370910925262 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to contribute to aligning higher education towards meeting the challenge of global sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach – The barriers to sustainability are juxtaposed against the resources, responsibilities and potential of higher education. Ideas from several models and from within several disciplines are integrated to construct a framework through the challenges can be examined and then translated into learning outcomes, expressed as graduate attributes.

Findings – The focus of education for global sustainability has been on encouraging consumers to modify patterns of resource consumption and waste management. However, there are some significant limitations to relying on consumer action. Future professionals, involved in managing resources or designing options from which consumers make choices, are in a much better position for influencing how social, cultural and environmental resources are used. To actualise this potential requires that higher education curricula offer experiences which develop graduate attributes of self-efficacy, capacity for effective advocacy and interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as raise awareness of social and moral responsibilities associated with professional practice.

Research limitations/implications – For higher education to contribute towards achieving sustainability requires support of the whole institution, and considerable professional development of staff to help them appreciate how they can lead the next generation to global sustainability. The next stage of the research into the role of higher education in building a sustainable society should focus on how these objectives can be achieved.

Originality/value – Considerable research has been dedicated to describing the urgent and intractable nature of the problems facing the global community and, to some extent, the need for higher education to engage with these problems. This paper takes the next step by presenting some guidelines for designing curricula to develop graduate attributes required for this work.

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