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Topical Collection "Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education"

Editors

Dr. Fermin Sanchez-Carracedo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University Research Institute for Sustainability Science and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: education for sustainable development; innovation in engineering education; ethics and sustainability in engineering education; neuroeducation; curriculum design
Dr. Jordi Segalàs Coral
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University Research Institute for Sustainability Science and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: sustainability education in engineering; pedagogical innovation in engineering education; circular design education; education in design engineering
Dr. Gemma Tejedor
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University Research Institute for Sustainability Science and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: sustainability education in engineering; pedagogical innovation in engineering education; transdisciplinarity in engineering; challenge-based education in engineering

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Education for sustainable Development (ESD) plays a key role in Higher Education degrees. University students must learn to think long-term and understand that in order to achieve a better world, they must situate their future professional activities within the framework of sustainable solutions. To this end, future graduates must be aware of the complexities of the social environment in which they are developing their work, and of the need to harmonize short-term improvements with sustainable development based on the long term. ESD is essential for the training of agents of change and transformation that can promote policies, strategies, and methods that enable a more sustainable future to be built.

ESD has mainly been addressed in Higher Education in three different ways: (1) introducing specific sustainability subjects into the curriculum, (2) including learning objectives related to sustainability in technical subjects, and (3) applying the criterion of sustainability in the final degree thesis.

This Special Issue will gather original research in the field of ESD in Higher Education focused on introducing ESD in Higher Education curricula, assessing students’ sustainability competencies, and evaluating the impacts of ESD in people's daily lives.

Suitable topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • introducing ethics in Higher Education;
  • deontological principles related to sustainability in Higher Education;
  • developing Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in Higher Education subjects;
  • developing SDG in bachelor's and master's theses,
  • how to reduce the human carbon footprint thanks to Higher Education;
  • how to improve people's daily lives through Higher Education;
  • accessibility, ergonomics and security in technological solutions;
  • living labs and campus labs for sustainability education in universities
  • teaching methodologies to introduce sustainability and social commitment in Higher Education.
  • inter- and transdisciplinarity for sustainability in higher education

Dr. Fermin Sanchez-Carracedo
Dr. Jordi Segalàs Coral
Dr. Gemma Tejedor
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 collection 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 single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2000 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

  • introducing ESD and SDG in Higher Education curricula
  • instruments for assessing ESD in Higher Education
  • sustainability in final degree projects
  • ethics and deontological principles in Higher Education
  • encouraging research and dissemination of sustainable development knowledge
  • pedagogical approaches to ESD

Published Papers (25 papers)

2022

Jump to: 2021

Article
The Evaluation of Active Learning Classrooms: Impact of Spatial Factors on Students’ Learning Experience and Learning Engagement
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4839; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084839 - 18 Apr 2022
Viewed by 488
Abstract
Previous studies have investigated the spatial attributes of Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) and their impact on students’ learning experiences and learning engagement independently; however, a holistic investigation of the relationship between these attributes and students’ learning engagement has not been conducted. This study [...] Read more.
Previous studies have investigated the spatial attributes of Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) and their impact on students’ learning experiences and learning engagement independently; however, a holistic investigation of the relationship between these attributes and students’ learning engagement has not been conducted. This study explored how the spatial attributes of ALCs affect students’ learning experiences and learning engagement. An empirical questionnaire was administered to freshmen taking English classes in four different types of ALCs at one university, and 224 valid questionnaires were analyzed. This study provides design insight for future learning environments in ALCs by linking two Likert scales: one rating spatial attributes in ALCs that influence learning experiences, and the other rating students’ learning engagement in ALCs. The results revealed that the spatial attributes of ALCs significantly affected the learning experience, specifically instructional interaction, furniture perception, learning support, and physical environment. Among them, instructional interactions and physical environment are the most critical in promoting student learning engagement. The survey findings can help architects design more flexible and sustainable learning environments in the future, supporting university students in developing active and collaborative learning skills, as well as providing better references and beneficial insights for future education for sustainable development. Full article
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Article
Higher Education for Sustainability: A Bibliometric Approach—What, Where and Who Is Doing Research in This Subject?
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4482; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084482 - 09 Apr 2022
Viewed by 496
Abstract
Contextualization: From a very early age, assuming more prominence over the last decades, issues related to sustainability have been taking on a particular interest in the field of research. Although initially the basic concern was at the level of environmental sustainability, the truth [...] Read more.
Contextualization: From a very early age, assuming more prominence over the last decades, issues related to sustainability have been taking on a particular interest in the field of research. Although initially the basic concern was at the level of environmental sustainability, the truth is that, progressively, education for sustainability, deeply linked to the science of sustainability, constitutes, together with the latter, the scientific basis for education for the sustainability in higher education, thus emerging a research niche capable of providing greater openness and interaction between higher education institutions and their surroundings. Main aims of the study: Due to the importance that this issue assumes, this article seeks to address the issue of sustainability in higher education, giving particular focus to the analysis at the level of studies that have been developed, which are the main countries and institutions where this has been most researched, as well as which main researchers have been working on this issue. Methodology: For this purpose, and using information taken from the Scopus Database, a bibliometric analysis was carried out, which based on the items “higher education” and “sustainability” allowed to identify a set of 4410 publications. Main results: The results obtained allow to conclude that the number of publications in this area has been observing a significant increase over the last 30 years, with the United States, UK, Spain, Australia and Germany emerging as the countries which publish the most, and within these the Leuphana Universitat Luneburg, RMIT, Hochschule fur Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg, Manchester Metropolitan and the Arizona State universities that most publish in this field of research. The five main researchers in the field of higher education for sustainability, were also highlighted. Main contributions: Theoretical and practical contributions were highlighgted, namely, the contribution for government entities and the respective HEIs to reflect on the possible synergies to be developed, as well as to establish strategies and policies promoters of a more efficient and effective investment in research in higher education for sustainability. Full article
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Article
Critical Thinking Cognitive Skills and Their Associated Factors in Chinese Community College Students in Hong Kong
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1127; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031127 - 19 Jan 2022
Viewed by 582
Abstract
The importance of fostering critical thinking (CT) in community college education has been recognized highly worldwide. However, limited studies have been conducted to investigate CT abilities among community college students in the Asian context. A cross-sectional correlational study was conducted with 209 Chinese [...] Read more.
The importance of fostering critical thinking (CT) in community college education has been recognized highly worldwide. However, limited studies have been conducted to investigate CT abilities among community college students in the Asian context. A cross-sectional correlational study was conducted with 209 Chinese community college students to assess the levels of CT cognitive skills and CT dispositions and to identify the associated factors. The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST), California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI), and a questionnaire on the students’ socio-demographic and academic profiles were used. The results showed that the average level of CT cognitive skills was 17.82 ± 4.10, which was at the upper end of the moderate range. For CCTDI scores, the mean value was 278.81 ± 22.61 and positive disposition towards CT was shown in four subscales: open-mindedness, analyticity, confidence in reasoning, and inquisitiveness. From regression analysis, HKDSE total score (i.e., university entrance examination total score), CT subject grade level, CCTDI truth-seeking, and CCTDI analyticity were identified as the four significant factors associated with their CT cognitive skills. The findings provide significant implications when reviewing the program design and curriculum as well as the addition of CT elements in a separate course to promote students’ CT abilities for sustainable development. Full article

2021

Jump to: 2022

Article
Tools for Embedding and Assessing Sustainable Development Goals in Engineering Education
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 12154; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112154 - 03 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 800
Abstract
This paper presents three tools developed within the framework of the project EDINSOST2-SDG, aimed at embedding and assessing the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Engineering curricula. ESD is promoted through the introduction into engineering curricula of learning outcomes related to sustainability and, [...] Read more.
This paper presents three tools developed within the framework of the project EDINSOST2-SDG, aimed at embedding and assessing the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Engineering curricula. ESD is promoted through the introduction into engineering curricula of learning outcomes related to sustainability and, specifically, to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The first tool, the “Engineering Sustainability Map”, contains ESD-related learning outcomes that any engineering student should have acquired upon completion of their studies. These learning outcomes are described according to four sustainability competencies: (1) Critical contextualization of knowledge, (2) Sustainable use of resources, (3) Participation in community processes, and (4) Application of ethical principles. The second tool, the “Sustainability Presence Map” of a degree, shows the percentage of the presence in the curriculum of each sustainability competency. The calculation of the presence of each competency is based on the effective integration of the related learning outcomes into a specific curriculum. Respective data are provided by teachers responsible for the coordination of the different subjects of the degree, collected by means of a questionnaire. The third tool presented is a questionnaire aimed at measuring the level of ESD that students perceive they have acquired through each competency. The comparison of data resulting from the Sustainability Presence Map with the data from the student questionnaire is the first step that allows the effectiveness of embedding ESD in a degree to be determined, a proper learning assessment will confirm such effectiveness. The three tools presented in this work have undergone a validation process and are currently being used in a set of engineering degrees related to the EDINSOST2-SDG project. The results of the application of these tools are part of the future research work of the authors. Full article
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Article
Addressing Education for Sustainable Development in the Teaching of Science: The Case of a Biological Sciences Teacher Education Program
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 12028; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112028 - 30 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 917
Abstract
Education plays a key role in ensuring that all learners are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set out the key challenges of our time with targets to protect the planet, [...] Read more.
Education plays a key role in ensuring that all learners are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set out the key challenges of our time with targets to protect the planet, end poverty, and improve the prospects of all people by 2030. As global challenges including access to healthcare and climate change escalate, the need for action is even more pressing. Education is an enabler of change and presents opportunities to support learners to explore how they can participate in transformative education experiences that focus on building a more sustainable world. Science education provides unique opportunities to explore sustainability given the nature of the discipline, the knowledge it reflects, and its focus on inquiry based pedagogical approaches. This study explores the nature of science as an academic discipline, as it is lived and perceived within the teaching of an undergraduate Science Education (biological sciences) program in a Higher Education Institution (HEI) and its capacity for the integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). An ethnographic informed research design was adopted to document the social culture, perspectives, and practices inherent in the educational setting. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with academics and tutors from the HEI’s Science Department who contribute to the program (n = 11). Focus groups were held with pre-service teachers enrolled on the program (n = 21) and observations from lectures, laboratory sessions, and field trips were carried out. Findings arising from analysis of data point to a strong link between science and society in science education, and the need for learners to develop critical scientific literacy that enables them to meaningfully navigate the multiple perspectives presented in media and public debates relating to sustainability issues. Findings suggest that while sustainability themes permeated some modules in the program, the emphasis was on imparting hard, technical knowledge rather than allowing for the critical exploration of issues. Results also highlight some discipline specific challenges to adopting discursive pedagogical approaches in the science education program. Some ways of understanding these findings are explored. Full article
Article
Inclusion of Education for Sustainable Development in Environmental Engineering. A Systematic Review
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10180; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810180 - 12 Sep 2021
Viewed by 940
Abstract
Sustainable development (SD) is a global commitment, in the economic, social, and environmental terms of the 21st century. The SD integrates conventional development models that seek economic growth and human development, within the framework of respect and sustainable use of natural resources. This [...] Read more.
Sustainable development (SD) is a global commitment, in the economic, social, and environmental terms of the 21st century. The SD integrates conventional development models that seek economic growth and human development, within the framework of respect and sustainable use of natural resources. This challenge must involve all levels of society. Higher education is not an exception, since universities must strive for knowledge, research, and innovation to promote SD. To achieve this, education for sustainable development (ESD) has been especially promoted by the United Nations. ESD is an indirect measurement instrument for the inclusion of SD in higher education curricula. Environmental engineering is one of the areas of most recent creation and expansion of engineering, this undergraduate program seeks to solve the environmental problems generated by the economic development of human beings, applying the theory, techniques, and technologies of engineering. With this systematic literature review (SLR), we were able to answer different research questions posed towards the most relevant competencies, techniques, and tools for the inclusion of ESD in the environmental engineering curriculum. This SLR was developed by searching the Science Direct, Scopus, and ERIC databases. We were able to identify success stories for the inclusion of ESD and some gaps in promoting ESD within undergraduate programs in environmental engineering. Likewise, we find the most applied activities, tools, and competencies within this engineering field that are part of ESD and promote SD from the curriculum. Full article
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Article
Learning Ethical, Environmental and Professional Responsibility at Universitat Politècnica de València. Where Are We?
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9991; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179991 - 06 Sep 2021
Viewed by 602
Abstract
This paper presents a study on the development of the cross-curricular learning outcome (CCLO) “Ethical, environmental and professional responsibility” for students of different Bachelor’s Degrees taught at Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain). The work involved in the development of this learning outcome entails [...] Read more.
This paper presents a study on the development of the cross-curricular learning outcome (CCLO) “Ethical, environmental and professional responsibility” for students of different Bachelor’s Degrees taught at Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain). The work involved in the development of this learning outcome entails great complexity, given the double dimension of responsibility that it involves. At the end of their training at the university, students are expected to show ethical, environmental, and professional responsibility towards themselves and others. Interviews have been conducted with lecturers who work and assess this outcome in their subjects, most/all of them related to science and engineering. The objective was to identify the learning approach used in the different subjects to guarantee the acquisition of this CCLO by the students. A focus group has also been carried out with students to determine the importance they give to this learning outcome, and to know their degree of satisfaction with the training received. The methodology used to obtain the data from lecturers and students and to process the information to get a precise diagnosis is fully described in the paper. Results are satisfactory to some extent: most of the lecturers carry out appropriate activities and most students achieve the expected proficiency level. Finally, recommendations are given to improve the development of this cross-curricular learning outcome. Full article
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Article
A Tool to Assess Architectural Education from the Sustainable Development Perspective and the Students’ Viewpoint
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9596; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179596 - 26 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1352
Abstract
Architectural education plays a fundamental role in achieving sustainable development by training future professionals who can contribute to sustainability through their practice. Nevertheless, to ensure the introduction of sustainable development in the education of future architects, it is fundamental to understand what is [...] Read more.
Architectural education plays a fundamental role in achieving sustainable development by training future professionals who can contribute to sustainability through their practice. Nevertheless, to ensure the introduction of sustainable development in the education of future architects, it is fundamental to understand what is being done and what could be improved. Despite this, a big gap has been detected in the assessment of architectural education in Spain and worldwide. Thus, a close-ended questionnaire for students has been designed based on the outcomes from a literature review, exploratory interviews with specialists, and the qualitative analysis of two schools of architecture. Additionally, it has been revised by experts, through the pilot study of a preliminary version, and with the supplementary analysis of the answers to a final test with students from different schools from Spain. In particular, this questionnaire allows for comprehensively measuring the students’ perception of their sustainability learning outcomes, their learning experience, and the connection between, with the aim of facilitating the adjustment of Spanish architectural education towards the introduction or enhancement of sustainable development by education managers, teachers, policymakers, and professional associations. Full article
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Article
Self-Directedness for Sustainable Learning in University Studies: Lithuanian Students’ Perspective
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9467; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169467 - 23 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 765
Abstract
The paper analyzes Lithuanian students’ preparedness for sustainable learning from the perspective of self-directedness. The data for the study were collected using a questionnaire that explored students’ perceptions in line with ten indicators of self-directed learning. The research sample (n = 309) [...] Read more.
The paper analyzes Lithuanian students’ preparedness for sustainable learning from the perspective of self-directedness. The data for the study were collected using a questionnaire that explored students’ perceptions in line with ten indicators of self-directed learning. The research sample (n = 309) was composed of the third and fourth year undergraduates accomplishing their degrees in various areas of studies. The data analysis revealed how students perceive their readiness for sustainable learning. Goal setting, technical readiness, time management, procrastination management, exam preparation and stress management indicators were analysed in detail in order to determine which variables had the most significant impact on these indicators. The study revealed that the students are only partially prepared for sustainable learning at the university. Even though they have the necessary digital competencies that allow for effective involvement in the learning process, the data revealed that they are prone to procrastination. The results also showed that the students perceived themselves to be the least competent in stress management and procrastination management. Full article
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Article
Integrating Sustainability in the Business Administration and Management Curriculum: A Sustainability Competencies Map
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9458; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169458 - 23 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1007
Abstract
This study presents a sustainability competencies map (SCM) for Business Administration and Management (BAM) disciplines as a tool to support education in sustainability at the university level. The study describes in detail the design and elaboration of the map based on the competencies [...] Read more.
This study presents a sustainability competencies map (SCM) for Business Administration and Management (BAM) disciplines as a tool to support education in sustainability at the university level. The study describes in detail the design and elaboration of the map based on the competencies defined by the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE) and complemented with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted by the United Nations. In addition, to externally evaluate the proposed SCM, we conducted a series of interviews with top managers and founders of five organizations that vary in size and industry. As the main contribution, the SCM for BAM studies is presented, containing 58 learning objectives. The qualitative research framework performed to obtain evidence from the interviewees showed that the holistic dimension of the proposed SCM is highly valued by the interviewed practitioners. Additionally, the SCM’s division of competencies into three levels of achievement was considered practical and helpful to measure them. Finally, the interviewees expressed concerns regarding the implementation of the SCM in real classroom, calling for the necessity of special training for teachers and flexibility of higher education system. Reinforced by the interviewees’ opinions, we believe that the SCM for BAM education presented here will facilitate the design of different methodologies by the teaching staff to guide students towards compliance with the 17 SDGs in 2030. Full article
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Article
Signs of the United Nations SDGs in University Curriculum: The Case of the University of Iceland
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8958; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168958 - 10 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1212
Abstract
Sustainability is a pressing topic in all universities. Institutions are determining what the implications of such a development are, e.g., on how courses that students are provided with should develop, what to change, what to add, and how these changes could be brought [...] Read more.
Sustainability is a pressing topic in all universities. Institutions are determining what the implications of such a development are, e.g., on how courses that students are provided with should develop, what to change, what to add, and how these changes could be brought about. The purpose of this research was to provide an overview of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the curriculum of five schools at the University of Iceland and an overview of individual SDGs for the university, to identify the main challenges and opportunities for improvement. Data collection included analysis of every single university’s course description and learning outcomes using a curriculum analysis key designed for the SDGs. Results indicated strong signs of SDG 4 (quality education) at the School of Education and the School of Social Sciences and SDG 3 (good health and well-being) at the School of Health Sciences. For the university, the results revealed a very limited emphasis on four SDGs, i.e., SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), and SDG 13 (climate actions). The results can serve as a benchmark for other universities, e.g., for comparison of results and their situation when creating policy and practices that include implementing the SDGs. Additionally, they can be used for comparison within the University of Iceland as a whole or within each school to monitor change. Full article
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Article
Embedding Sustainability in the Economics Degree of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Murcia: A Methodological Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8844; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168844 - 07 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 975
Abstract
Education has been traditionally considered as a means to promote and disseminate sustainable development through the reorientation of the curriculum towards sustainability at all levels of the educational system. Higher Education Institutions take a leading role in this process. However, they face several [...] Read more.
Education has been traditionally considered as a means to promote and disseminate sustainable development through the reorientation of the curriculum towards sustainability at all levels of the educational system. Higher Education Institutions take a leading role in this process. However, they face several limitations, including their lack of training in the topic, which is complex and difficult to fit into disciplines to begin with. This paper presents the experience of the Working Group on Curricular Sustainability of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Murcia (Spain), carried out within the framework of a pilot project of teaching innovation whose objective was the incorporation of sustainability in the Degree in Economics. In doing so, a Sustainability Competency Map was drawn up and open educational resources that enable students to acquire these competencies were developed. Full article
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Article
What Do Freshmen Know about Sustainability? Analysing the Skill Gap among University Business Administration Students
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8813; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168813 - 06 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 712
Abstract
This study aims at creating and validating an instrument to assess the level of mastery in sustainability competencies of freshmen students in business-related studies. To reach this goal, a questionnaire that captures the level of acquisition of the competencies in sustainability is provided. [...] Read more.
This study aims at creating and validating an instrument to assess the level of mastery in sustainability competencies of freshmen students in business-related studies. To reach this goal, a questionnaire that captures the level of acquisition of the competencies in sustainability is provided. A three-step process has been followed to analyse the results gathered among first-year students in two Spanish universities. First, eight confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to verify the grouping of the dimensions included in the questionnaire, resulting in 10 competency units in sustainability (CU). Next, we averaged the values of the items included in each CU to facilitate interpretation and then calculated the skill gap; that is, the difference between the level that CU students are expected to achieve on graduation compared to the current level. Third, a series of ANOVA tests were run to investigate potential differences in the level of acquisition due to gender, prior training and educational background, which according to the literature might influence current student knowledge of sustainability. Our results reveal that freshmen enter university with a heterogeneous level of development, both in terms of breadth (different CUs) and depth (the extent to which each CU is developed). The original value of this work stems from the creation of an instrument which is expected to be applicable in a variety of contexts. Additionally, the information it provides assists us in the identification of the CUs that should be further emphasized at university level, and therefore helps professors to prioritise those teaching strategies targeted at overcoming this deficit. Full article
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Article
A Collaborative Learning Activity to Analyze the Sustainability of an Innovation Using PESTLE
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8756; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168756 - 05 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1687
Abstract
This paper presents a collaborative learning activity for courses in engineering degrees or master’s programs that cover the subject and skills of sustainability, social compromise, and ethics for engineering. The activity consists of performing a multidisciplinary analysis of a case of study, which [...] Read more.
This paper presents a collaborative learning activity for courses in engineering degrees or master’s programs that cover the subject and skills of sustainability, social compromise, and ethics for engineering. The activity consists of performing a multidisciplinary analysis of a case of study, which presents a technology or innovation, to detect and debate possible issues and solutions. This learning activity is based on the PESTLE methodology that is used to analyze the political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental aspects of a technology or innovation. The PESTLE analysis is implemented using the jigsaw collaborative learning technique. This learning activity can be completed in two sessions of two hours. To validate its usefulness, the learning activity was applied for two semesters in a study on two courses: one in Informatics Engineering Degree and the other one in the Master Degree of Sustainability at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, with very good results. Full article
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Article
Students’ Perception about Sustainability in the Engineering School of Bilbao (University of the Basque Country): Insertion Level and Importance
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8673; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158673 - 03 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 899
Abstract
Almost three decades have passed since the Rio declaration, and after numerous initiatives developed to include sustainability in higher education, with the support of Education for Sustainable Development, it is worth wondering at what point is the process of inserting sustainability in university [...] Read more.
Almost three decades have passed since the Rio declaration, and after numerous initiatives developed to include sustainability in higher education, with the support of Education for Sustainable Development, it is worth wondering at what point is the process of inserting sustainability in university degrees. To clarify this question, engineering students were inquired, at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), about their perception of the insertion-level of sustainability and the importance they give to it (in environmental, social, and economic dimensions). The novelty of this study lies in the use of a new questionnaire, based on the students’ activity. The instrument was designed ad hoc and was previously validated for this study. The results indicate a low insertion level of sustainability in its three dimensions in three engineering degrees analysed. Nevertheless, the research also shows that the students give great importance to Sustainable Development (SD), either in academic, personal, or professional spheres. The low insertion level of SD and the high interest of students should be considered by the academic institution as an opportunity to deep in its holistic approach to promote the integration of SD in university curricula, not only in engineering degrees. Full article
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Article
The Future We Want: A Learning Experience to Promote SDGs in Higher Education from the United Nations and University of Valencia
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8550; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158550 - 31 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1565
Abstract
This article shares the strategy for mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the University of Valencia (UV), which, although limited in its scale, may compel other Higher Education Institutions to think in technological and social progress aligned with the 2030 Agenda. It [...] Read more.
This article shares the strategy for mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the University of Valencia (UV), which, although limited in its scale, may compel other Higher Education Institutions to think in technological and social progress aligned with the 2030 Agenda. It explicates a process driven by the UV, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN), and in collaboration with the Service for Geospatial, Information, and Telecommunications Technologies from the UN Support Base in Valencia (Spain) to prepare the online event: “The United Nations We Want”. It was the culmination of a collaborative project between students and faculties from different scientific, technological, social, legal, humanistic, and health disciplines that structure the University of Valencia. The intention was that new generations experience the role they can have to shape the future we want, while the university community as a whole can become part of transformative institutional change that draws on both top-down and bottom-up strategies in pursuit of Education for Sustainable Development. Full article
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Article
Sustainability Education in the Spanish Higher Education System: Faculty Practice, Concerns and Needs
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8389; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158389 - 27 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 794
Abstract
This article presents the results of the EDINSOST project in relation to the university faculty’s practice concerns and the need to embed sustainability education in the Spanish Higher Education system. Four questions were devised to determine (1) which conceptions the university faculty has [...] Read more.
This article presents the results of the EDINSOST project in relation to the university faculty’s practice concerns and the need to embed sustainability education in the Spanish Higher Education system. Four questions were devised to determine (1) which conceptions the university faculty has about sustainability in the context of the Spanish higher education (2) what sustainability competencies the university faculty holds (3) the ways in which sustainability teaching strategies are implemented and (4) the ways in which practical coursework related to sustainability is undertaken in a Spanish university context. The methodology that was applied was comprised of a discourse analysis of faculty focus groups. To that end, a category system and a focus group implementation protocol were designed and validated, as well as processes of construct elaboration based on the analysis of the focus groups’ discourses. Among the most relevant contributions stemming from the research questions regarding the faculty’s assumptions was the evidence that the holistic conception of sustainability is not addressed in all its dimensions and the environmental dimension is overemphasised. The need for training to teach sustainability competencies and the faculty’s lack of awareness were also identified. As far as sustainability teaching strategies are concerned, project-based learning prevails, with service-learning emerging as the most effective strategy, even though its application is hindered by faculty training gaps. Finally, the absence of sustainability in teaching guides and study plans and the scarce institutional support for establishing sustainability as a strategic subject in the university were significant findings. Full article
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Article
“I Wanted a Profession That Makes a Difference”—An Online Survey of First-Year Students’ Study Choice Motives and Sustainability-Related Attributes
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8273; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158273 - 24 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 913
Abstract
Higher education institutions are obligated to facilitate students in the development of sustainability competencies, which enable them to act as “change agents” in their future profession-specific environment. Therefore, students’ study motives, prior knowledge, attitudes, and experiences regarding sustainability should be considered when designing [...] Read more.
Higher education institutions are obligated to facilitate students in the development of sustainability competencies, which enable them to act as “change agents” in their future profession-specific environment. Therefore, students’ study motives, prior knowledge, attitudes, and experiences regarding sustainability should be considered when designing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) programmes. The present study compares first-year students in teacher training with first-year students in other study programmes and explores their study choice motives as well as sustainability-related conceptions, engagement and self-efficacy beliefs using a semi-standardised online questionnaire. Results show that the choice of study is dominated by intrinsic factors and the relevance of extrinsic factors differs by degree programmes with lower extrinsic values for the teacher training students. Regarding sustainability, we find simple and often unelaborated concepts. Teacher training students show significantly higher scores than non-teacher training students regarding the sustainability-related behavioural domain and self-efficacy beliefs. In addition, a gender gap increasing with age and with lower sustainability scores for older males could be identified but only for teacher training students. In conclusion, the results show valuable starting points as well as challenges that should be considered when designing target-oriented learning processes in (inter)disciplinary sustainability courses at higher education institutions. Full article
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Article
A Service-Learning Based Computers Reuse Program
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7785; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147785 - 12 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 836
Abstract
Higher Education Institutions are facing a challenging situation: how to introduce concepts such as Sustainability or the Circular Economy into their curricula. This study presents how to organize a Computer Reuse Program, an educational proposal for the Reuse, Repair, Refurbishment, Remanufacture and Recycling [...] Read more.
Higher Education Institutions are facing a challenging situation: how to introduce concepts such as Sustainability or the Circular Economy into their curricula. This study presents how to organize a Computer Reuse Program, an educational proposal for the Reuse, Repair, Refurbishment, Remanufacture and Recycling of computers into a Curriculum and a case study. The proposal is based in the Service-Learning methodology, by which students develop technical and professional skills while undertaking a project that has a direct and real impact on society. Students work on old or broken computers provided by donors, thereby acquiring technical skills. These now flawlessly functioning computers are donated to NGOs and other non-profit organizations, thus endowing the equipment with a much longer life as well as reducing e-waste, one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world. As a case study, this paper presents the UPC Computer Reuse Program, carried out at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya UPC-BarcelonaTech. Since the program started in 2004, some 2500 computers have been donated to 359 different organizations in 29 countries, and more than 5200 students have participated. The paper analyzes the impact of the program on society, on the reduction of e-waste, on the environment and on student awareness regarding social justice and sustainability. Full article
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Article
Fostering Sustainability and Critical Thinking through Debate—A Case Study
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6397; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116397 - 04 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1250
Abstract
Transversal competences such as sustainability or critical thinking have become more important in the last decades in University teaching. The objective of this article is to assess the effectiveness of debate as a teaching method capable of fostering such competences in engineering students. [...] Read more.
Transversal competences such as sustainability or critical thinking have become more important in the last decades in University teaching. The objective of this article is to assess the effectiveness of debate as a teaching method capable of fostering such competences in engineering students. To do this, a debate activity has been held facing two reasonable positions: Sustainable Development versus Degrowth. The research methodology consisted of performing this activity in the classroom (with 13 students in this particular case study), and conducting some tests before and after the debate that served as feedback to assess the effectiveness of the debate on the learning process. This feedback is composed of different documents, including a pre-post test, a specific survey about the debate, a pre-post knowledge survey and the Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) survey. A methodology for the organization of the debate is proposed and the answers of the students to these feedback documents are analyzed. As it can be inferred from the different surveys, the debate has been an efficient learning tool to acquire knowledge and to develop sustainability and critical thinking competences. Full article
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Article
Combining Management, Education and Participation for the Transformation of Universities towards Sustainability: The Trébol Programme
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 5959; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13115959 - 25 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 755
Abstract
This article presents the design and development of the ‘Trébol (Clover) Programme’, a tool which allows us to improve environmental sustainability in the university environment by reinforcing the education, awareness, and training of its members. The system for certifying ‘good practice’ is divided [...] Read more.
This article presents the design and development of the ‘Trébol (Clover) Programme’, a tool which allows us to improve environmental sustainability in the university environment by reinforcing the education, awareness, and training of its members. The system for certifying ‘good practice’ is divided into four progressive levels, and a certificate is awarded in order to demonstrate the environmental commitment acquired to third parties. The aim of the whole process is to create a practical forum for participation, communication, motivation and competence, which is necessary to foster effective pro-environmental behaviour. The study took place at the University of Córdoba (Spain), and, since it began in the 2013/2014 academic year, over 50 groups a wide range of areas have taken part, making a total of nearly 600 participants. The results show that the Trébol Programme enables environmental commitment to be put into practice, through continuous, systematised, participative and well-organised improvements in environmental performance. Its potential as an educational resource for environmental improvement should also be noted, by boosting environmental awareness and establishing new norms. It fits in well with the principles and areas of action of Education for Sustainable Development, and can be applied to universities and other settings to bring about a shift towards sustainability in the fields of teaching, research and management. Full article
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Article
Study of the Presence of Sustainability Competencies in Teacher Training in Mathematics Education
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5629; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13105629 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 994
Abstract
This article presents the results of the analysis of the presence of the sustainability competencies proposed by the Sectoral Commission of the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities in three degrees in the area of Didactics of Mathematics of the Faculty of Education [...] Read more.
This article presents the results of the analysis of the presence of the sustainability competencies proposed by the Sectoral Commission of the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities in three degrees in the area of Didactics of Mathematics of the Faculty of Education Sciences at the Universidad de Cádiz (Spain): the degree in Early Childhood Education, the degree in Primary Education, and the Master’s degree in Teacher Training for Compulsory Secondary and Upper Secondary School Education (specialisation in mathematics). The research method used is content analysis, reflected in the syllabi of the subjects of the degrees analysed. To carry out the analysis, two instruments were used: an adaptation of the model of the Green Curriculum in Higher Education and the map of generic competencies in sustainability of the EDINSOST project. The global results show a very low relative presence of sustainability competences in the area of Didactics of Mathematics (25%), the competency related to ethical aspects having the lowest relative presence (10%). For the most part, the competencies related to sustainability are established for the lowest level of mastery, “know”. When comparing the degree programmes, the Master’s degree in Teacher Training for Compulsory Secondary and Upper Secondary School Education (specialisation in mathematics) is the degree that contributes the most to the development of the sustainability competency (32%), followed by the degree in Early Childhood Education (25%), and the degree in Primary Education (18%). Including sustainability in the curriculum of mathematics education in higher education can improve the training of professionals who engage in reflective and critical thinking. However, these results show there is still a long way to go. Full article
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Article
Training Freshmen Engineers as Managers to Develop Soft Skills: A Person-Centred Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4921; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094921 - 28 Apr 2021
Viewed by 805
Abstract
This article describes a subject design to train engineer students in soft skills through an experiential and person-centred approach, as is usually developed in companies for managers to incorporate responsible and ethical engineering perspectives. This design is based on an experiential methodology and [...] Read more.
This article describes a subject design to train engineer students in soft skills through an experiential and person-centred approach, as is usually developed in companies for managers to incorporate responsible and ethical engineering perspectives. This design is based on an experiential methodology and its impact on students is presented. The subject, called “Personal and Professional Effectiveness”, was designed and developed based on Covey’s classic book “The 7 habits of highly effective people” and introduces ethical and social commitment among other contents. A detailed description of different activities carried out within the module is provided to allow replication. Students’ perception, gathered from their reflexive diaries, and academic satisfaction survey results are presented. Students report that this teaching method leads to a deeper connection with themselves and increased awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. Students seem to have understood the importance of sustainability and how individual behavior impacts in an engineering team. They reflect on how being aware of their own strengths and difficulties helps them integrate different knowledge into their daily lives and how this can improve their behaviors, not only professionally, but also personally. Full article
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Article
Integrating Mathematics and Science Teaching in the Context of Education for Sustainable Development: Design and Pilot Implementation of a Teaching-Learning Sequence about Air Quality with Pre-Service Primary Teachers
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4500; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084500 - 18 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1058
Abstract
This article presents an interdisciplinary teaching–learning sequence (TLS) about air quality for pre-service primary teachers using an organic learning garden. The design involved a curricular integration of concepts and competences about sustainability, mathematics, and science disciplines following constructivist and active learning strategies, such [...] Read more.
This article presents an interdisciplinary teaching–learning sequence (TLS) about air quality for pre-service primary teachers using an organic learning garden. The design involved a curricular integration of concepts and competences about sustainability, mathematics, and science disciplines following constructivist and active learning strategies, such as problem-based learning and place-based education. In this TLS, both the topic and the learning context act as facilitators of education for sustainable development (ESD). The contents address the overarching STEM and sustainability concepts related to air pollutants, weather, and climate. Our results show that students learned about a STEM topic within a space and context that enables ESD. Several misconceptions related to air quality, weather, and statistics were identified through the evaluation of students’ initial ideas. Furthermore, students’ attitudes towards the topic of study and self-efficacy and perceived relevance of ESD improved after the implementation. These results will guide further improvements of the designed TLS, which connects STEM education and ESD as a transformative educational experience for pre-service teachers. In this sense, we conclude that such initiatives can improve pre-service primary teachers’ self-efficacy as agents of change towards sustainable development goals. Full article
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Integrating Japanese Local Government and Communities into the Educational Curriculum on Regional Sustainability Inside the UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves and Geoparks
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2497; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052497 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 809
Abstract
This study analyzes whether biosphere reserves (BR) and geoparks (GP) can serve as platforms to contribute to education for sustainable development by integrating local authorities and communities into the educational process. For two years, we conducted the integrated course named “UNESCO Biosphere Reserves [...] Read more.
This study analyzes whether biosphere reserves (BR) and geoparks (GP) can serve as platforms to contribute to education for sustainable development by integrating local authorities and communities into the educational process. For two years, we conducted the integrated course named “UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and Geoparks”, with a total number of 143 students. The curriculum was carefully designed together with the local government and community members. Both BR and GP increased the awareness and knowledge of regional sustainability and served as educational platforms to integrate the local government and communities inside the academic curriculum. Students replied that their knowledge about the BR and GP was raised by 83% and 92%, respectively. Practical field trips showed an increased awareness of the locals’ efforts towards regional sustainable development. Both BR and GP provided site-specific knowledge and functioned as the learning platform to teach about the linkage of human–nature interaction towards regional sustainable development. Most of the students expressed that BR helped them to analyze the situation at the issue-oriented community level (76%), whereas GP helped them to think broadly about the relation of humans with the Earth at the global level (89%). Full article
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