30 SES 16 A, Intrapersonal Sustainability Competencies - An Emerging Field for Environmental and Sustainability Scholarship and Practice
Sustainability education programs in higher education have significantly increased over the last decade and the number of sustainability degree programs as well as sustainability labor market opportunities are projected to continue to grow. However, the lack of a shared reference framework specifying the key competencies in sustainability presents a key limitation to fully characterizing the effectiveness of sustainability education, concludes a study by the United States’ National Academies of Sciences (NAS, 2020). To address this limitation, we conducted a Delphi Study involving international experts in sustainability education to explore convergence on competencies for sustainability programs using the framework of key competencies in sustainability by Wiek et al. (2011), the most frequently cited framework to date. While experts generally agreed with the framework, they proposed two additional competencies, suggested a hierarchy of competencies, and specified learning objectives for students interested in a career as a sustainability researcher. The additionally proposed competencies include intrapersonal competency and implementation competency. This presentation presents the results from the Delphi Study, highlighting discourse on the proposed intrapersonal competency while outlining the future research needs associated with each result. Results, where experts’ assessment converge, include the relevance of intrapersonal competency and its role in sustainability problem-solving processes, a basic and initial definition of intrapersonal competency, and its relationship to the other key competencies within the reference framework.. Results, where experts’ perspectives diverge, include the debate whether intrapersonal factors can be classified as a competency or are better captured through the concept of mindsets. This classification is influenced by questions concerning (i) the assessment of intrapersonal factors and (ii) how intrapersonal factors manifest. While intrapersonal factors can be measured, ethical questions arise on whether they can be prescribed through learning objectives and whether they ought to be assessed and graded similar to the learning objectives in the other key competencies? A second question is whether intrapersonal factors become manifest as performance, defined as successfully acting out what was learned, or whether they manifest as moderators that indirectly influence the performance of all other competencies? Clarifying this question is critical, as performance is a defining element of the competency concept. Our presentation will detail the debate around these two foundational questions and propose an empirically-based research agenda to help answer these questions.
Brundiers, K., Barth, M., Cebrián, G., Cohen, M., Diaz, L., Doucette-Remington, S., … Zint, M. (2020). Key competencies in sustainability in higher education—toward an agreed-upon reference framework. Sustainability Science, 16(1), 13–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00838-2 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Strengthening Sustainability Programs and Curricula at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25821. 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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-011-0132-6
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