Education for sustainable development (ESD) is generally thought to involve some degree of education for particular professional and civic values, attitudes and behaviours (leading to, as examples, being environmentally, socially and culturally responsible); although it is notable that the application of ESD in higher education is contested. This conceptual article analyses literature that describes how higher education addresses professional and civic values, mindfully or unintentionally, in an attempt to provide clarity to the arguments involved in this contestation. The article uses three disciplinary lenses (education, psychology and professional education) in the context of four educational paradigms (experiential learning; role modelling; assessment/evaluation; critical thinking) to explore the theoretical and practical bases of values-education. Our conceptual analysis confirms that values are: of great interest to higher education; a significant focus within experiential learning and in the context of role modelling; but challenging to define and even more so to assess or to evaluate the attainment of. Our three disciplinary lenses also lead us to conclude that encouraging students to develop a disposition to explore their world critically is a form of values-education; and that this may be the only truly legitimate form of values-education open to higher education.
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