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Sustainability now! : a review of the current state of academic programmes in sustainability

O Byrne, David LU (2012) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM01 20121
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
The emergence of the academic field explicitly concerned with sustainability has seen the
establishment of many university degree programmes in sustainability. This study examines what
the curricula of 54 of these programmes, 27 master's programmes and 27 bachelor's programmes.
entailed in terms of mandatory and optional courses and detailed topical content. It then looks,
more specifically, at the content of 22 core sustainability courses from these programmes. The aim
is understand what is being taught, how it is organised and to what extent it is shared across
programmes.
The vast majority of both the bachelor's and the master's programmes offered courses in the social
sciences, 85% and 89% respectively, and in sustainability,... (More)
The emergence of the academic field explicitly concerned with sustainability has seen the
establishment of many university degree programmes in sustainability. This study examines what
the curricula of 54 of these programmes, 27 master's programmes and 27 bachelor's programmes.
entailed in terms of mandatory and optional courses and detailed topical content. It then looks,
more specifically, at the content of 22 core sustainability courses from these programmes. The aim
is understand what is being taught, how it is organised and to what extent it is shared across
programmes.
The vast majority of both the bachelor's and the master's programmes offered courses in the social
sciences, 85% and 89% respectively, and in sustainability, as a distinct subject, both 93%, with
97% of the bachelor's programmes and 44% of the master's programmes offering courses in the
natural sciences. Arts and humanities courses were offered in 56% of the bachelor's programmes
and 22% of the master's programmes. The particular subjects offered within these fields, varied
considerably across programmes. The core sustainability courses drew on a broad spectrum of
literature, with very few authors or articles referenced in multiple programmes.
Overall this study shows that there is a large amount of variation between programmes in terms of
approach, topical content and literature and other educational resources. Furthermore, two
specific issues of content are raised. First is, the unpopularity of natural sciences at the master's
level, possible reasons for this and its potential impacts in the light of attacks on the physical
science basis of climate change. Second is the role of humanities, especially ethics, in the context
of sustainability as a normative endeavour. In the light of these findings, this review closes with a
reflection on curricula and the design of sustainability programmes in the context of the market,
the modern university and the emerging academic field concerned with sustainability. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
O Byrne, David LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM01 20121
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
normative science, sustainability education, bridging natural and social sciences, experiential learning, curriculum design, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2012:016
language
English
id
2759946
date added to LUP
2012-06-21 01:01:14
date last changed
2012-11-26 10:26:32
@misc{2759946,
  abstract     = {The emergence of the academic field explicitly concerned with sustainability has seen the
establishment of many university degree programmes in sustainability. This study examines what
the curricula of 54 of these programmes, 27 master's programmes and 27 bachelor's programmes.
entailed in terms of mandatory and optional courses and detailed topical content. It then looks,
more specifically, at the content of 22 core sustainability courses from these programmes. The aim
is understand what is being taught, how it is organised and to what extent it is shared across
programmes.
The vast majority of both the bachelor's and the master's programmes offered courses in the social
sciences, 85% and 89% respectively, and in sustainability, as a distinct subject, both 93%, with
97% of the bachelor's programmes and 44% of the master's programmes offering courses in the
natural sciences. Arts and humanities courses were offered in 56% of the bachelor's programmes
and 22% of the master's programmes. The particular subjects offered within these fields, varied
considerably across programmes. The core sustainability courses drew on a broad spectrum of
literature, with very few authors or articles referenced in multiple programmes. 
Overall this study shows that there is a large amount of variation between programmes in terms of
approach, topical content and literature and other educational resources. Furthermore, two
specific issues of content are raised. First is, the unpopularity of natural sciences at the master's
level, possible reasons for this and its potential impacts in the light of attacks on the physical
science basis of climate change. Second is the role of humanities, especially ethics, in the context
of sustainability as a normative endeavour. In the light of these findings, this review closes with a
reflection on curricula and the design of sustainability programmes in the context of the market,
the modern university and the emerging academic field concerned with sustainability.},
  author       = {O Byrne, David},
  keyword      = {normative science,sustainability education,bridging natural and social sciences,experiential learning,curriculum design,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Sustainability now! : a review of the current state of academic programmes in sustainability},
  year         = {2012},
}