30 SES 08 A, Broadening the Issue of ESE: Curriculum and Organization
The role of business in sustainable development is a contested issue. As argued in When Corporations Rule the World doing business could be argued as being the very problem of unsustainability (Korten 2001). The role of a business could also be to make as much profit as possible, while abiding with the law, as argued by the influential economics Friedman (1970). Others argue that capitalism needs re-invention and that a business also must have a social purpose (Porter and Kramer 2011). In addition Nelson (2006) question that good things automatically are either provided or destroyed by economic life and argue that acknowledging the ethical capabilities within businesses would be more helpful when addressing environmental and social challenges. Last, Palmås (2011) has described environmental and social activists doing business and accordingly ‘hacking’ the presumed first priority purpose (to maximize profit) of a business. So, there are different positions regarding how a business can take social responsibility that might have implications for business and sustainability education.
As a part of the UN decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), the concept sustainable development (SD) has been mainstreamed in school curricula worldwide. As a part of the reform of upper secondary education 2011 in Sweden the concept ‘sustainable development’ was infused in the syllabus for the subject Business economics. As a part of the same reform the subjects Geography and Science studies, which previously had contributed to the overall ‘sustainability content’, were removed or reduced in the programme structure of the Business management and economics programme. As the reform of programme structure coincided with ‘sustainable development’ also being fore grounded in the examination goals (Swedish National Agency for Education 2012), the expectations on teachers in Business economics increased with regard their overall contribution to the sustainability content of the educational programme.
Considering the contested role of business in sustainable development I therefore find exploring business education when SD is mainstreamed into the curriculum important. The purpose of this article is therefore to explore business education when sustainable development is mainstreamed in the syllabus of business economics. As the contested role of business implies different expectations on the role of a business person the more specific purpose is to explore the subject positions that come into play in educational practice and the function of the teachers’ actions for the students learning of how a business can, and cannot, take social responsibility.
In order to avoid a predetermined view of the educational practice being explored, a post-structuralist theoretical approach was employed, drawing on the concept 'subject position' from Laclau and Mouffe (2001).
Biesta, Gert. 2009. "Good education in an age of measurement: On the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education." Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability (formerly: Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education) no. 21 (1):33-46. Friedman, Milton. 1970. The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. New York Times Magazine, 126. Korten, David C. 2001. When corporations rule the world. San Francisco, Calif. :: Berrett-Koehler Publishers ;. Laclau, Ernesto, and Chantal Mouffe. 2001. Hegemony and socialist strategy : towards a radical democratic politics. London: Verso. Lidar, Malena, Eva Lundqvist, and Leif Östman. 2006. "Teaching and learning in the science classroom: The interplay between teachers' epistemological moves and students' practical epistemology." Science Education no. 90 (1):148-163. Nelson, Julie A. 2006. Economics for humans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Palmås, Karl. 2011. Prometheus eller Narcissus? : entreprenören som samhällsomvälvare [Prometheus or Narcissus?: The Entrepreneur as Social Change Agent]. Göteborg: Korpen koloni. Pellizzoni, Luigi. 2004. "Responsibility and Environmental Governance." Environmental Politics no. 13 (3):541-565. doi: 10.1080/0964401042000229034. Porter, M. E., and M. R. Kramer. 2011. "Creating Shared Value." Harvard Business Review no. 89 (1-2):62-77. Rudsberg, Karin, and Johan Öhman. 2010. "Pluralism in practice – experiences from Swedish evaluation, school development and research." Environmental Education Research no. 16 (1):95-111. doi: 10.1080/13504620903504073. Swedish National Agency for Education. 2012. Upper secondary school 2011. Stockholm: Fritzes Förlag. Yin, Robert K. 2009. Case study research : design and methods, Applied social research methods series, 99-0497898-0 ; 5. London: SAGE. Östman, Leif. 2010. "Education for sustainable development and normativity: a transactional analysis of moral meaning‐making and companion meanings in classroom communication." Environmental Education Research no. 16 (1):75-93. doi: 10.1080/13504620903504057.
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