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University sustainability reporting: A review of the literature and development of a model

In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach

Alan J. Richardson and Meghan D. Kachler

Many universities have made a commitment to improving the sustainability of their campuses. However, only a small number report to stakeholders on their sustainability performance to allow accountability, and the quality of the reports issued varies widely. This chapter reviews studies of sustainability reporting by universities and identifies the factors that have been associated with the decision to report on sustainability and the quality of those reports. Most of the existing empirical work on sustainability reporting by universities is case-based. We critique this literature and identify areas in need of conceptual and empirical clarification. We provide a model, hypotheses, constructs, and proxies to support large-sample research on sustainability reporting by universities.

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University experiential learning partnerships as living laboratories for sustainability

In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach

Adam Sulkowski

This chapter answers the question: how can universities partner with other institutions to create experimental experiential learning partnerships, and what are the benefits of such arrangements? The author describes a model for such cooperative relationships. Based on experiences implementing municipal sustainability reporting with student teams, the author also offers both specific and generalized guidance for replicating his collaboration with municipalities. The author shares positive outcomes and concludes that the experiential learning partnerships have a key role to play as living laboratories – advancing the state of knowledge of practices that have yet to enter the mainstream and have potential to help organizations achieve sustainability.

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Sustainable MBAs: A phase model development of sustainability in MBA education

In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach

Timothy A. Hart, Corey J. Fox, John Korstad and Erin E. Nill

All of the programs in the top 100 US MBA programs are excellent. Those towards the top are world-class institutions. In this sense, they all teach the fundamentals of business proficiently and prepare leaders to help their companies achieve strong financial performance. However, some of those programs go beyond traditional core business concepts and challenge students to consider the social and environmental implications in the pursuit of profit. In light of this, the authors have developed a five-phase model that identifies and describes the characteristics of programs in each phase in terms of how fully they embrace sustainability education. They draw from the top 100 US MBA programs for current examples of schools in each phase.

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Sustainable entrepreneurship undergraduate education: A community of practice perspective

In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach

Marcela Ramírez Pasillas and Quang Evansluong

This chapter explores how an undergraduate elective course employs a community of practice to change students’ perceptions on sustainable entrepreneurship. For this purpose, the authors conducted a case study of an undergraduate elective course in a Swedish business school re-designed to adopt sustainability and sustainable entrepreneurship education. The authors found evidence that, when students engage in a community of practice for sustainable entrepreneurship, they become aware of the importance of being active citizens. The authors proposed two key activities – project work and embracing an active citizenship – to nurture the full participation of students in a community of practice. Through project work – developing ideas and prototypes for sustainable ventures, lean mentoring, and participation in a sustainability festival – students were provided with a learning context for changing their perceptions on sustainable entrepreneurship. By embracing an active citizenship, students coined potential solutions to societal problems. Individual and collective reflections on class activities were important for them in becoming aware of their roles and capacity to act as change agents.

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Sustainability through stakeholder value creation: Redesigning an MBA curriculum

In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach

Richard Miller, R. Greg Bell, Dale Fodness and J. Lee Whittington

The demand to educate students who can create value while acting in sustainable and socially responsible ways is increasing in today’s business climate. Preparing these future managers and leaders requires that sustainability and corporate responsibility are addressed from multiple perspectives in order to teach them not only how to identify the stakeholder viewpoints but also how to balance value creation for each. In this chapter, the authors describe the comprehensive approach taken in a professional MBA program to develop a holistic approach to value creation. Rather than viewing various stakeholders as competing, students cultivate an appreciation for an integrative approach to stakeholders in an ethically, socially, and environmentally responsible manner.

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Sustainability learning processes: Concepts, benchmarking, development, and integration

In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach

Farley S. Nobre, Jorge A. Arevalo and Shelley F. Mitchell

This chapter supports the premise that the environmental education concepts proposed in the 1960s and 1970s can be extended to contemporary learning processes in sustainability education. Following this view, the chapter brings a number of contributions and adds new meanings by exploring new approaches of integration. To this end, the authors introduce a set of learning processes grounded in an expanded literature review, which involves concepts of cognitive and developmental psychology, general systems theory, levels of cognitive complexity, organizational knowledge creation, design thinking, experiential learning, and environmental education and education for sustainable development. They also report on program observations and benchmarking conducted in universities in Europe and North America as part of an international research project. The learning processes developed were tested in a new program intervention undertaken with undergraduate business students. Initial findings of this research demonstrate that: (a) the proposed framework suggests processes that satisfy an education for sustainable development based on United Nations educational goals; (b) schools and universities are making changes to their curricula, teaching new methodologies, and implementing new practices and operations in their campuses to provide professors, students, and communities with the background for learning and taking action towards sustainable development; (c) changes in curricula and learning processes depend primarily on professors’ and deans’ support, as well as the influential role of top education regulatory institutions and agencies; and (d) students are most interested to participate in education for sustainable development, especially when sustainability education is transversally and systemically disseminated across all disciplinary boundaries and creates a holistic learning approach.

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Soraia Schutel, Emmanuel Raufflet, Paola Schmitt Figueir— and Pedro Roberto Jacobi

Over the last decade, sustainability has aroused interest in the area of management education. It has been integrated into the curricula of some management courses, guided by the dominant paradigm embedded in instrumental rationality and the strategic approach. Thus the question that has guided this chapter is: ‘What could be a new approach to weaving sustainability and management education together?’ The goal of this chapter is to explore Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy and Alberto Guerreiro Ramos’s substantive rationality as complementary foundations for a new approach to sustainability in management education. In addition, we aimed to intensify the dialogue between North and South countries by shedding new light on pedagogy and on research on organizations from emerging countries’ intellectual perspectives. Through bibliographical research, we found that the paradigm change in sustainability in management education requires a worldview transformation through a holistic and critical pedagogy that integrates the process of teaching and learning, social interaction, dialogue, ethics, spirituality, critical learning, non-alienation, questioning ideology, conscientization, creativity, and freedom. When this framework is integrated into management education, students can develop new competencies that are required to deal with sustainability challenges, such as ethical judgment and emancipatory values, and thus develop an understanding of the integral dimensions of human beings—namely autonomy, authenticity, comprehension, and self-fulfillment—which can lead to a new form of management of organizations.

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Sustainability as a university value: A journey from awareness to behavior change

In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach

Erik E. Nordman, Norman Christopher and Yumiko Jakobcic

Sustainability can be viewed as an organizational innovation that is adopted and internalized. Diffusion of innovations theory provides a starting point for how organizations may adopt sustainability practices and values, but its linear model does not adequately describe the iterative cycle of a learning organization. Therefore a new ‘sustainability journey’ framework is introduced that describes a six-step process of internalizing sustainability from awareness to behavior change. The framework is applied to describe how Grand Valley State University (Michigan, USA) adopted sustainability as a university value and grew in its awareness, understanding, and implementation of sustainability. The university’s sustainability practices ultimately have led to significant value creation for the university and the community, and the sustainability-based behaviors have become the ‘new normal’ on campus. The framework is applicable to any learning organization, including businesses, NGOs, and other institutions.

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Susan L. Manring

This chapter provides a social-economic-ecological transdisciplinary approach to explore how universities can effectively move to the forefront in collaborations which address the challenges and opportunities for sustainable development. Panarchy is introduced as a holistic framework that integrates the cross-scales and cross-domains of social, economic, and ecological systems. As a transdisciplinary lens, panarchy enables us to examine nonlinear cross-scale/cross-domain linkages and critical thresholds which occur at social/ecological, economic/social, and ecological/economic intersections within social-economic-ecological systems. This perspective is valuable for extending and deepening sustainability-related research and practice within universities, as well as for providing leadership roles for universities, and management educators and students in particular, in transdisciplinary approaches to sustainability. An analysis of two complex regional case studies incorporates the panarchy framework to examine dimensions of systems adaptability and resilience, and the evolution of these social-economic-ecological systems as stakeholder learning networks. The case studies also demonstrate that creating change toward sustainable paradigms requires action research and organizational double-loop learning, which are management education fundamentals. The chapter demonstrates the teaching potential of these integrative multi-domain frameworks for conceptually structuring a holistic perspective of any social-economic-ecological system as a ‘case’ for sustainability action research, for deeper descriptive and prescriptive analyses, and for collaborative partnerships among management and transdisciplinary educators, academic societies and practitioners, and other social-economic-ecological system stakeholders.

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A review of the pedagogical tools, games, and simulations in the sustainability classroom

In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach

Claire A. Simmers and Sara Soderstrom

In this chapter, the authors examine sustainability pedagogical approaches in business education. Specifically, they enumerate learning tools such as games, simulations, cases, capstone projects, teaching cases, reading materials (articles, books, chapters, and journals), Internet anthologies, and videos. They also seek to better understand interventions that inspire students to shift from primarily profit or external motivations towards broader sustainability values or internal motivations. In this chapter, the authors explore the successes and challenges in teaching sustainability. They begin a dialog on how to measure sustainability pedagogy outcomes and suggest areas for future research.