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Suzanne Benn, Dexter Dunphy and Andrew Griffiths

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Business cases for sustainability-integrated management education

In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach

Melissa Edwards, Suzanne Benn and Mark Starik

As the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development has now concluded, sustainability educators are reflecting on and planning next steps for embedding sustainability in higher education curriculum. Many exemplars of holistic sustainability-integrated management education (SIME) exist, and various techniques and frameworks for embedding sustainability into the curriculum have been developed. Yet business schools have been critiqued for having a dearth of sustainability in the curriculum. This raises an important question regarding how SIME can feasibly and viably thrive in management education. Taking a multilevel, multi-systems view of higher education, many interrelated factors can be attributed to influencing the position a university adopts in its approach to embedding sustainability into the curriculum. In an increasingly complex and marketized system, a business case for SIME is required. Business cases range from a reactionary ‘business as usual’ to a holistically integrated ‘business as unusual’ approach. Using a ‘phase model’ framework the authors analyze various different business cases for SIME, elaborating how varying pedagogical assumptions can lead to starkly different value propositions for SIME. The model can be applied to compare and contrast between multiple business cases and used as a means for positioning and justifying a holistic approach to SIME.