30 SES 04 A, Higher Education for Sustainability: Session 1
Global challenges such as climate change, food security issues, and threatened planetary boundaries are interdependent, complex, and cross over disciplinary boundaries (Cortese 2003; Steffen et al. 2015). To guide the needed transformation, society will need future decision makers with strong sustainability problem-solving skills (Wiek et al. 2011). For sustainable transformations to be successful, a paradigm shift with higher education institutions (HEIs) at the core needs to take place (Ferrer-Balas et al. 2008; Mulkey 2015; Stephens et al. 2008). In preparing tomorrow’s professionals, universities have both the opportunity and the responsibility to educate their graduates with increased knowledge and skills (Cortese 2003; Mulkey 2015). In order to truly do this, universities have to change their educational settings on at least two levels: A) At the course level, including teaching and learning approaches which foster the acquisition of key competencies (Wiek et al. 2011); and B) at the curriculum level, where changes in the individuals (acquisition of key competencies) and pedagogies can be implemented in almost all faculties or departments.
Higher education institutions are by nature highly resistant to change (Evans & Henrichsen 2008). Fullan (2007) noted ’Intrinsic dilemmas in the change process, coupled with the intractability of some factors, the uniqueness of individual settings, and variations in local capacity, make successful change a highly complex and subtle social process’ (Fullan 2007: 86). Clearly there are significant barriers to overcome (Holmberg & Samuelsson (eds.) 2006; Thomas 2004). Up till now, knowledge building on various barriers and drivers for implementing sustainability curricula has only been conducted through descriptive single case studies (albeit in large numbers). However, a broad analysis of the factors which drive curricular change is missing and it remains unclear what generalizable insights can be found on either overcoming barriers or fostering the drivers of successful implementation (De la Harpe & Thomas 2009). While most comparative approaches have summarized the drivers and barriers in laundry lists (e.g. Ferrer-Balas et al. 2008), Barth (2015) compiled different driving and hindering factors in a synthesized framework which attempts to unravel the relations between the influencing factors (Ibid.: 149ff.).
So far research has generated meaningful knowledge about what factors exist, but little evidence on the specific patterns of how the drivers and barriers impact both the extent and the characteristics of sustainability curriculum implementation processes. Only a few studies have tried to investigate differences and commonalities of cases and only on a small N-scale (e.g. Ferrer-Balas et al. 2008). What is missing is a systematic analysis of sustainability curriculum implementation processes on a medium size N with the purpose of identifying and understanding distinctive patterns in different contexts. To tackle the aforementioned gap, this research endeavor pursues two objectives: First of all, it makes an attempt to identify distinctive patterns of successful sustainability curriculum implementation processes. Secondly, this study aims at contributing to a mainly descriptive single-case study discourse by offering an empirical analysis on a larger scale with the production of more general results. The operationalization of these endeavors leads to the following research questions.
RQ 1:What are the influencing and moderating factors and their roles in the implementation process of sustainability curricula in higher education?
RQ 2:What are distinctive patterns of implementation processes of sustainability curricula in higher education?
RQ 3:What strategies are best be suited to integrate sustainability curricula in higher education?
For this study the case survey method (Lucas 1974; Newig & Fritsch 2009; Yin & Heald 1975) was used to analyze 230 case studies on sustainability curriculum implementation processes. In a first step, a sample was selected according to the following criteria (1) Peer-reviewed case studies or case studies in edited volumes; (2) published in English before 2017; (3) dealing with higher education for sustainable development; (4) focusing on the implementation process of courses or programs, which can be assigned to an identifiable institution. Following previous research (e.g. Barth & Michelsen 2013), abstracts of six relevant journals were thoroughly reviewed. Despite a significant bias towards success stories, published literature offered important insights regarding drivers and barriers for the implementation of sustainability curricula. The abstract search gave a first impression of individual case studies and helped identify keyword strings for a general search in various databases. ERIC, WEB of Science and Scopus were utilized in the context of this study. To finalize raw data collection, first, experts in the field were asked to review the case sample and to identify missing cases and publications. Second, to add supplementary data published in offline media, relevant edited volumes were researched via reviews of tables of contents and abstracts. The final sample universe included 230 cases. To analyze the sample, a comprehensive coding scheme was designed, using the aforementioned framework of drivers and barriers (Barth 2015) as a deductive point of reference for an initial set of variables. Further variables were identified based on existing theories of implementation processes and (organizational) change. Additionally, inductive variables were added building upon the richness of the gathered case material. After a pre-test of the coding scheme all qualitative case descriptions were coded into quantitative data, following the approach by Newig and Fritsch (2009). Finally, the resulting dataset of 230 cases was analyzed by using different descriptive and explorative statistical methods to reveal specific patterns of implementation processes.
The research described above set out to investigate influencing and moderating factors for the implementation processes of sustainability curricula in HEI. A special focus was laid on the specific drivers and barriers that different HEIs have experienced during their endeavors. This promised to respond to the growing interest in initializing, adopting and adding sustainability curricula into universities. By identifying and understanding those factors, insights into (context-sensitive) strategies for successful implementation of sustainability curricula could be gained. Further, the findings offer both responses to barriers that can be expected and strategies to foster existing drivers. Findings showed that sustainability champions, communication strategies and supportive government and politics functioned as drivers to the implementation process. Institutional visions were found to have both the potential to drive the implementation of sustainability curricula – once clearly communicated and lived up to – and the risk of hindering the process – when fuzzy and/or poorly incorporated in daily practices, even if explicitly stated. Main barriers, on the other hand, were the lack of time, lack of interdisciplinary competence, and limited (financial) resources. Statistical analyses revealed distinctive patterns of sustainability implementation processes. While certain patterns were already identified in the first analytical steps, they are currently still under revision and will further be analyzed. This research attacked the critical problem of ‘what works’ (and doesn’t) in curriculum change processes, i.e. how successful implementation of sustainability into higher education can be supported in different contexts. Unlike existing single case studies, this research adds a large scale study to the discourse of successful implementation strategies as well as the driving and impeding factors. These results will be very useful to curriculum developers, administrators and decision makers in higher education. Furthermore, this study is also of methodological value as it demonstrates how the case survey method can be used in educational science.
Barth, M., & Michelsen, G., (2013). Learning for change: an educational contribution to sustainability science. Sustainability Science, 8 (1), 103–119. Barth, M. (2015). Implementing Sustainability in Higher Education. Learning in an age of transformation. Routledge studies in sustainable development. London, New York: Routledge. Cortese, A. D. (2003). The critical role of higher education in creating a sustainable future. Planning for higher education, 31(3), 15-22. De La Harpe, B., & Thomas, I., (2009). Curriculum Change in Universities. Conditions that Facilitate Education for Sustainable Development. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 3 (1), 75–85. Evans, N., & Henrichsen, L. (2008). Long-term strategic incrementalism: An approach and a model for bringing about change in higher education. Innovative Higher Education, 33(2), 111-124. Ferrer-Balas, D., Adachi, J., Banas, S., Davidson, C.I., Hoshikoshi, A., Mishra, A., Motodoa, Y., Onga, M., & Ostwald, M. (2008). An international comparative analysis of sustainability transformation across seven Universities. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 9 (3), 295 - 316. Fullan, M. (2007). The New Meaning of Educational Change. 4th ed. London: Routledge. Holmberg, J., & Samuelsson, B. E. (eds.) (2006). Drivers and Barriers for Implementing Sustainable Development in Higher Education. Göteborg Workshop, December 7-9, 2005. UNESCO, Education for Sustainable Development in Action, Technical Paper N°3, September 2006. Lucas, W. A. (1974). The case survey method. Aggregating case experience. Santa Monica: Rand. Mulkey, S. (2015). Sustainability Programming is an Ethical Obligation for Higher Education in the Environmental Century. Journal of Sustainability Education, 2015 (10). Newig, J., & Fritsch, O. (2009). The case survey method and applications in political science. Political Science Association (APSA) (2009) 49, 3–6. Steffen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., Cornell, S. E., Fetzer, I., Bennett, E. M., ... & Folke, C. (2015). Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223), 1259855. Stephens, J. C., Hernandez, M. E., Román, M., Graham, A.C., Scholz, R.W. (2008). Higher education as a change agent for sustainability in different cultures and contexts. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 9 (3), 317 - 338. Thomas, I. (2004). Sustainability in tertiary curricula: What is stopping it happening? International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 5(1), 33-47. Wiek, A., Withycombe, L., & Redman, C.L. (2011). Key competencies in sustainability: a reference framework for academic program development. Sustainability Science, 6 (2), 203–218. Yin, R., & Heald, K. A. (1975). Using the case survey method to analyze policy studies. Administrative Science Quarterly, 20 (3), 371–381.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.