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Article

Social Sustainability and Transformation in Higher Educational Settings: A Utopia or Possibility?

1
Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, PB 9, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2
Regional Science, Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University, PB 311, 65101 Vaasa, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4176; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104176
Received: 24 March 2020 / Revised: 22 April 2020 / Accepted: 18 May 2020 / Published: 20 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Education and Scholarship in Higher Education)
Social sustainability is a dimension of sustainability that has received little attention. Our aims in this article are to create a definition of social sustainability based on a comprehensive literature study, and to discuss the implementation of the concept in higher education settings at theoretical and practical levels. We also aim to answer the question of whether it is possible to achieve a socially sustainable and transformative practice in educational contexts. Our approach in the study is critical and reflective and, firstly, built on a literature review including policy documents, research articles and books on sustainability from the perspectives of education and social studies. Secondly, we provide examples of practice from four university sustainability courses. In these courses, social sustainability appears in an interdisciplinary and a sustainable leadership framework. The conclusion from this study is that it is possible to implement social sustainability in various ways at the course level. We identify elementary features at basic, personal and educational levels that facilitate the implementation. However, we see the inclusion of social sustainability as the only way to reshape education and rethink the role of educational institutions. In this reshaping, ethics is the core. View Full-Text
Keywords: social sustainability; sustainability education; social sustainability learning; transformative learning; interdisciplinarity; transdisciplinarity; sustainable leadership; higher education social sustainability; sustainability education; social sustainability learning; transformative learning; interdisciplinarity; transdisciplinarity; sustainable leadership; higher education
MDPI and ACS Style

Wolff, L.-A.; Ehrström, P. Social Sustainability and Transformation in Higher Educational Settings: A Utopia or Possibility? Sustainability 2020, 12, 4176. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104176

AMA Style

Wolff L-A, Ehrström P. Social Sustainability and Transformation in Higher Educational Settings: A Utopia or Possibility? Sustainability. 2020; 12(10):4176. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104176

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wolff, Lili-Ann, and Peter Ehrström. 2020. "Social Sustainability and Transformation in Higher Educational Settings: A Utopia or Possibility?" Sustainability 12, no. 10: 4176. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104176

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