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Educating sustainability change agents : The importance of practical skills and experience

Heiskanen, Eva LU ; Thidell, Åke LU and Rodhe, Håkan LU (2016) In Journal of Cleaner Production 123. p.218-226
Abstract

Sustainability professionals are agents for change towards sustainable development. Such professionals require knowledge from a variety of disciplines, but also competencies to accomplish real-word change. This article evaluates an innovative course, Strategic Environmental Development, which immerses students in a real-life solution-oriented consultancy project in order to develop critical sustainability change agent skills and confidence in using them. Since 1996, students have worked in 127 projects in 28 countries. The evaluation builds on a post-graduation survey and personal interviews with graduates. Our findings indicate that the course, which is conducted as teamwork and often overseas, helps to prepare students for their... (More)

Sustainability professionals are agents for change towards sustainable development. Such professionals require knowledge from a variety of disciplines, but also competencies to accomplish real-word change. This article evaluates an innovative course, Strategic Environmental Development, which immerses students in a real-life solution-oriented consultancy project in order to develop critical sustainability change agent skills and confidence in using them. Since 1996, students have worked in 127 projects in 28 countries. The evaluation builds on a post-graduation survey and personal interviews with graduates. Our findings indicate that the course, which is conducted as teamwork and often overseas, helps to prepare students for their challenges at work. It does so by requiring them to work with interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary situations, and to find, translate and combine information outside their own area of expertise, including knowledge from the field. We also argue that working in real-life contexts helps to build up the confidence and leadership that practicing sustainability professionals direly need. A real-life consultancy course helps students become professionals by helping them experience that they are able to access the necessary knowledge for problem-solving quickly and decisively. Moreover, students develop a sense of agency through the experience of being capable to accomplish change. Our findings contribute to a small but growing body of knowledge on the value of using real-world learning experiences in the education of sustainability professionals.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Educating sustainability professionals, Post-graduation evaluation, Practical skills training, Real-world learning
in
Journal of Cleaner Production
volume
123
pages
9 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • Scopus:84959205974
ISSN
0959-6526
DOI
10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.11.063
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
da6cc788-3376-446f-a8f1-5b370f297738
date added to LUP
2016-04-29 14:16:09
date last changed
2016-04-29 14:16:09
@misc{da6cc788-3376-446f-a8f1-5b370f297738,
  abstract     = {<p>Sustainability professionals are agents for change towards sustainable development. Such professionals require knowledge from a variety of disciplines, but also competencies to accomplish real-word change. This article evaluates an innovative course, Strategic Environmental Development, which immerses students in a real-life solution-oriented consultancy project in order to develop critical sustainability change agent skills and confidence in using them. Since 1996, students have worked in 127 projects in 28 countries. The evaluation builds on a post-graduation survey and personal interviews with graduates. Our findings indicate that the course, which is conducted as teamwork and often overseas, helps to prepare students for their challenges at work. It does so by requiring them to work with interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary situations, and to find, translate and combine information outside their own area of expertise, including knowledge from the field. We also argue that working in real-life contexts helps to build up the confidence and leadership that practicing sustainability professionals direly need. A real-life consultancy course helps students become professionals by helping them experience that they are able to access the necessary knowledge for problem-solving quickly and decisively. Moreover, students develop a sense of agency through the experience of being capable to accomplish change. Our findings contribute to a small but growing body of knowledge on the value of using real-world learning experiences in the education of sustainability professionals.</p>},
  author       = {Heiskanen, Eva and Thidell, Åke and Rodhe, Håkan},
  issn         = {0959-6526},
  keyword      = {Educating sustainability professionals,Post-graduation evaluation,Practical skills training,Real-world learning},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {06},
  pages        = {218--226},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x98b0f28)},
  series       = {Journal of Cleaner Production},
  title        = {Educating sustainability change agents : The importance of practical skills and experience},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.11.063},
  volume       = {123},
  year         = {2016},
}