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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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The importance of teaching ethics of sustainability


Document Information:
Title:The importance of teaching ethics of sustainability
Author(s):Kelly Biedenweg, (School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA), Martha C. Monroe, (School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA), Annie Oxarart, (School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Citation:Kelly Biedenweg, Martha C. Monroe, Annie Oxarart, (2013) "The importance of teaching ethics of sustainability", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 14 Iss: 1, pp.6 - 14
Keywords:Ethics, Higher education, Sustainability, Teaching
Article type:Case study
DOI:10.1108/14676371311288912 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:Funding for the development of the course was provided by NSF Award 0832891. Charles Kibert, Les Thiele, Anna Peterson, Martha Monroe and Richard Plate authored the Working Toward Sustainability: Ethical Decision-Making in a Technological World textbook and taught the pilot course. Deb Wojcik co-authored the instructor's guide for the course.
Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe the importance of a focus on ethics in sustainability education and present results from a pilot graduate-level course titled the Ethics of Sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach – This is a case study presenting a qualitative evaluation from a pilot 14-week Ethics of Sustainability course. Data are based on observations, surveys and interviews with students.

Findings – Students from diverse fields found the ethical concepts new, stimulating and crucial for their careers. Ethical concepts provide a framework for thinking about sustainable practices in their personal and professional lives.

Research limitations/implications – Findings are based on a single pilot course and post-participation responses. Future research could explore different teaching strategies and different institutions, and use pre/post studies.

Practical implications – This study suggests that a course on ethical principles related to sustainability is a useful and potentially critical component to any curriculum intending to prepare future professionals to be effective contributors to a sustainable society. Higher education may adopt the course concepts and learning tools to enhance their curriculum and businesses and corporations will benefit from entry-level professionals with a solid ethical foundation for making more sustainability-oriented decisions.

Originality/value – The paper discusses an innovative course designed with funding from the US National Science Foundation. It confirms the benefit and provides some content advice for a course oriented toward ethics in sustainability curricula.



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