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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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Real-world learning opportunities in sustainability: from classroom into the real world


Document Information:
Title:Real-world learning opportunities in sustainability: from classroom into the real world
Author(s):Katja Brundiers, (School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA and Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA), Arnim Wiek, (School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA), Charles L. Redman, (School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
Citation:Katja Brundiers, Arnim Wiek, Charles L. Redman, (2010) "Real-world learning opportunities in sustainability: from classroom into the real world", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 11 Iss: 4, pp.308 - 324
Keywords:Competences, Curricula, Experiential learning, Higher education, Problem solving, Sustainable development
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/14676371011077540 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers, as well as Zinaida Fadeeva and Yoko Mochizuki, United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), Japan, for helpful comments on previous versions of this paper. They would like to thank Kathryn Kyle, Arizona State University, for editorial support.
Abstract:

Purpose – Academic sustainability programs aim to develop key competencies in sustainability, including problem-solving skills and the ability to collaborate successfully with experts and stakeholders. These key competencies may be most fully developed in new teaching and learning situations. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the kind of, and extent to which, these key competencies can be acquired in real-world learning opportunities.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper summarizes key competencies in sustainability, identifies criteria for real-world learning opportunities in sustainability programs, and draws on dominant real-world learning models including project- and problem-based learning, service learning, and internships in communities, businesses, and governments. These components are integrated into a framework to design real-world learning opportunities.

Findings – A “functional and progressive” model of real-world learning opportunities seems most conducive to introduce students (as well as faculty and community partners) to collaborative research between academic researchers and practitioners. The stepwise process combined with additional principles allows building competencies such as problem solving, linking knowledge to action, and collaborative work, while applying concepts and methods from the field of sustainability.

Practical implications – The paper offers examples of real-world learning opportunities at the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, discusses general challenges of implementation and organizational learning, and draws attention to critical success factors such as collaborative design, coordination, and integration in general introductory courses for undergraduate students.

Originality/value – The paper contributes to sustainability education by clarifying how real-world learning opportunities contribute to the acquisition of key competencies in sustainability. It proposes a functional and progressive model to be integrated into the (undergraduate) curriculum and suggests strategies for its implementation.



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