Learning for Sustainability: Challenges and Progress of Embedding Sustainability into Teaching and Learning and Beyond

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2024 | Viewed by 19957

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor

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Guest Editor
Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, UK
Interests: computer science education; technology enhanced learning; education for sustainable development; green and sustainable computing
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to the education sector and impacted the progress of embedding sustainability into learning, teaching and assessment. Many higher education institutions moved to a full or hybrid form of remote teaching, learning and assessment delivery, and the direction has changed as a result. Simultaneously, the pandemic is transforming how we think about our approach to embedding sustainability in learning and teaching practice while opening new avenues for exploration in the future.

The pandemic has provided opportunities to teach in novel and more sustainable ways, letting the education itself become an exemplar for how to transform and adapt in the face of the global challenges caused by climate change, and in developing approaches to teaching that can support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Contributions that illustrate this are particularly welcome.

This Special Issue will cover studies that investigate embedding sustainability in learning and teaching, and invite authors to submit in the form of original articles, case studies and review articles. It seeks to bring together scholars, educators, policymakers, and practitioners to collectively and critically identify, investigate, and share best practices that support commitment and response from the education sector.

Prof. Dr. Kelum Gamage
Dr. Neil Gordon
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Education Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • education for sustainability
  • education for sustainable development
  • sustainable goals
  • employability skills
  • higher education
  • university policy and strategy
  • activist learning
  • educational innovation
  • innovative pedagogies
  • technology-enhanced learning
  • learning and teaching
  • delivery of laboratories and workshops
  • online assessments
  • student–staff partnership
  • student engagement
  • student experience
  • graduate attributes

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 1484 KiB  
Article
Educating Future Agricultural Engineers at the University of Burgos, Spain, through a Service-Learning Project on Rural Depopulation and Its Social Consequences
by Víctor Revilla-Cuesta, Marta Skaf, Javier Manso-Morato, José T. San-José and Vanesa Ortega-López
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(3), 267; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13030267 - 2 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1477
Abstract
A Service-Learning Project (S-LP) is a teaching experience through which the concepts covered during an educational course can practically be applied to address a given social problem. It is therefore a useful teaching methodology to bring courses closer to the real world. An [...] Read more.
A Service-Learning Project (S-LP) is a teaching experience through which the concepts covered during an educational course can practically be applied to address a given social problem. It is therefore a useful teaching methodology to bring courses closer to the real world. An S-LP experience is reported in this paper that was conducted with students of agricultural engineering to address the problem of rural depopulation, through the design of agri-food buildings for industries, and economic activities that help to maintain a stable population. After the S-LP, a survey was administered to both students and teachers, to assess the success of this teaching experience. The responses of the students showed not only an awareness of the social problem that was addressed, but also a critical spirit that led them to seek the best possible answer, and a global vision of the issue. It helped them to reflect on all of its facets to arrive at a way of engaging with the social problem. Importantly, the students were able to reflect upon how engineers can also serve society through their technical knowledge. The teachers indicated that the S-LP motivated the students on the course, while enabling them to successfully learn the concepts, and to develop independent study skills searching for information. In general, an S-LP is an experience that the teachers in this study would recommend and that could be especially relevant for universities assuming a role as a social entity to heighten the visibility of social problems and needs. Full article
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17 pages, 897 KiB  
Article
Natural Disaster Prevention Literacy Education among Vietnamese High School Students
by Bay Dinh Vu, Hien Thi Nguyen, Hong-Van Thi Dinh, Quynh-Anh Ngoc Nguyen and Xuan Van Ha
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(3), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13030262 - 1 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2304
Abstract
Research has shown that natural disasters can be prevented or mitigated effectively through education which provides knowledge and skills for the young generation to protect themselves and act to protect the community. The current study investigated the level of natural-disaster-prevention literacy and analyzed [...] Read more.
Research has shown that natural disasters can be prevented or mitigated effectively through education which provides knowledge and skills for the young generation to protect themselves and act to protect the community. The current study investigated the level of natural-disaster-prevention literacy and analyzed its predictors among high school students in Vietnam. This study adopted a cross-sectional school-based design, using an online survey. There were 807 students from seven public schools participating in this study. The results show that the natural-disaster-prevention knowledge, perception, skills, and overall literacy are above average, with knowledge having the highest score. Significant differences exist in natural-disaster-prevention literacy and its components by gender, grade, location, and residence. Age, location, residence, knowledge, and perception can predict participants’ skills of natural-disaster prevention. This study highlights the necessity of teaching natural-disaster prevention in schools, across grades, and focusing on providing the students with the knowledge and perception needed to improve their natural-disaster-prevention skills. This will contribute to helping the country meet the goal of education for sustainable development. Full article
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15 pages, 1497 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Language Training for Engineering Students: Integrating Resource-Efficiency into the Course Content through the Educational Process
by Neil Gordon, Natalya Kemerova, Lyudmila Bolsunovskaya and Sergey Osipov
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(2), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13020176 - 7 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1385
Abstract
The sustainable use of the Earth’s resources is recognized as increasingly important on a global scale, especially in relation to natural resource management, and is effectively addressed under the auspices of resource efficiency within engineering education. This has led to an increased demand [...] Read more.
The sustainable use of the Earth’s resources is recognized as increasingly important on a global scale, especially in relation to natural resource management, and is effectively addressed under the auspices of resource efficiency within engineering education. This has led to an increased demand for engineers able to carry out professional activities whilst considering sustainable issues, as well as adopting state-of-the-art technologies, and applying the best domestic and foreign practices. The study of resource efficiency encompasses a range of aspects, from natural resources, through information management, technological tools, time, and other resources. Effective engineering education should include resource efficiency, whilst enabling students to become autonomous lifelong learners, and to develop as potential researchers and professionals, able to take account of emerging issues and approaches for resource efficiency. This paper begins by analyzing the concept of resource efficiency and key research in this area. It goes on to provide a framework to demonstrate how resource-efficiency can be delivered as part of the teaching of year one engineering students, with a theoretical and methodological scaffolding. The paper presents a case study which utilizes resource efficiency within language training. The paper defines the notion of language training resources and their classification. The case study demonstrates the feasibility of the proposed approach and includes a formal assessment to show its effectiveness. Full article
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19 pages, 935 KiB  
Article
School Leadership, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives of Principals in China, Germany, and the USA
by Ulrich Müller, Dawson R. Hancock, Chuang Wang, Tobias Stricker, Tianxue Cui and Marah Lambert
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(12), 853; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12120853 - 23 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2866
Abstract
We live in times of multiple crises. Climate change, degradation of soils, loss of biodiversity, COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine, to name but a few. School leaders are challenged in many ways to tackle the consequences of these crises, to prepare students [...] Read more.
We live in times of multiple crises. Climate change, degradation of soils, loss of biodiversity, COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine, to name but a few. School leaders are challenged in many ways to tackle the consequences of these crises, to prepare students for a future that will foreseeably be full of crises too, and to just do their “normal” daily work: to make sure that the school is running successfully in order to help students learn how to read, write, calculate, etc. Education for sustainable development (ESD) is a concept that aims at empowering learners with the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes to address the interconnected global challenges we are facing. This article reports on a study that seeks to investigate what principals in Germany, China, and the United States do to integrate sustainability and ESD in their schools. It specifically addresses the issue of COVID-19 and its impact on the establishment of ESD. Full article
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15 pages, 2609 KiB  
Article
Implementing Sustainability into Virtual Simulation Games in Business Higher Education
by Aleksandra Gawel, Sergiusz Strykowski and Konstantinos Madias
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(9), 599; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12090599 - 2 Sep 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2258
Abstract
The paper aims to determine how sustainability can be implemented into virtual business simulators dedicated to higher education due to the need for raising environmental awareness among students. Climate and natural environmental changes caused by human activities require adjustments in society’s mindsets and [...] Read more.
The paper aims to determine how sustainability can be implemented into virtual business simulators dedicated to higher education due to the need for raising environmental awareness among students. Climate and natural environmental changes caused by human activities require adjustments in society’s mindsets and activities, especially in the business-related sector, which makes the implementation of sustainability in business higher education of crucial importance. Virtual business simulators are innovative tools in business higher education. Their use, as a part of game-based learning, is attracting increasing interest, as this method allows us to understand interactions between business decisions and their results. In this paper, we present our case study of an IT-based business simulator, which includes aspects of sustainability, and the initial experience of a group of test students participating in the business game. The paper discusses the authors’ own IT solutions and the possibilities of implementing the concept of sustainability into business-oriented higher education. This paper proposed the manner of implementing sustainability, including pseudocodes, into a virtual business simulator. The results show how challenging it is to implement sustainability into game-based business education, as it increases the complexity of interactions among different aspects of running a business, including the goal of making a company more diversified. Full article
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20 pages, 952 KiB  
Article
The Contribution of Higher Education to Sustainability: The Development and Assessment of Sustainability Competences in a University Case Study
by Vasiliki Kioupi and Nikolaos Voulvoulis
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(6), 406; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12060406 - 15 Jun 2022
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3097
Abstract
Universities can make a significant contribution to sustainability, and the development of sustainability competences in their graduates should be a key outcome of their courses. We propose an assessment framework for enabling and evaluating the attainment of sustainability competences in University students. We [...] Read more.
Universities can make a significant contribution to sustainability, and the development of sustainability competences in their graduates should be a key outcome of their courses. We propose an assessment framework for enabling and evaluating the attainment of sustainability competences in University students. We outline its six steps, offering tools on how to assess the alignment of University programs’ Learning Outcomes (LOs) to sustainability and how translate them into competences for sustainability. We provide approaches to evaluate existing assessment methods in terms of enabling students to develop and apply their competences, guidance on how to conduct the assessments to collect data on student performance and eventually how to use the data, and evidence collected to evaluate if the students are developing the intended competences. We illustrate the application of the assessment tool in a University case study and we draw conclusions on the evidence it offers to how higher education practitioners can benefit from its use. Full article
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20 pages, 304 KiB  
Article
Embedding Sustainability in Learning and Teaching: Lessons Learned and Moving Forward—Approaches in STEM Higher Education Programmes
by Kelum A. A. Gamage, Sakunthala Yatigammana Ekanayake and Shyama C. P. Dehideniya
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(3), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12030225 - 19 Mar 2022
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 4281
Abstract
Embedding sustainability into pedagogical approaches is a key priority in higher education. Equipping students with knowledge, understanding, and skills, and developing the next generation of innovators and leaders, can potentially provide the change needed and create a real impact in the journey to [...] Read more.
Embedding sustainability into pedagogical approaches is a key priority in higher education. Equipping students with knowledge, understanding, and skills, and developing the next generation of innovators and leaders, can potentially provide the change needed and create a real impact in the journey to a sustainable future. Advancement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and corresponding industries can be seen as vital for the success of meeting a majority of the sustainable development goals, and hence the approaches taken to embed sustainability in learning and teaching in STEM higher education programmes can be considered significant in many ways. This paper is based on published literature over the last two decades and a semi-structured interview with 12 university academics from a developing country. Hence, the paper reviews approaches taken to embed sustainability in learning, teaching and assessments in STEM programmes. It also aims to investigate the actions taken by universities to integrate sustainability in STEM education and the remedies taken to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the effectiveness of the learning pedagogies used to integrate sustainability concepts. Full article
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