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Navigating the journey to sustainability : the case for embedding sustainability literacy into all tertiary education business programs

journal contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Elizabeth Sidiropoulos
This article presents an overview of a society’s journey to sustainability and the contribution of tertiary business education in navigating this transformational process. It begins by describing sustainability as a journey towards a greater balance of the interests of people, profit and planet and also describes sustainability as a journey of learning, one that is facilitated by Education for Sustainability (EfS). This is followed by an analysis of the motivation for undertaking such a journey and considers evidence of the emergence of individual and social values towards sustainability, even in the absence of regulation. A model is then presented of the societal transformation process, including an outline of the necessary conditions and the role of major social domains in this journey to sustainability. The paper then focuses on the role and contribution of two key domains in this transformation model, namely the economy and institutions, represented respectively by the business sector and by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), in particular Business Schools. The role of EfS is highlighted and discussed specifically in each of these two domains and throughout the paper. The approach in this paper combines theoretical streams such as sustainability, business education, learning and pedagogy, psychology, social psychology, and complex systems to present a case for embedding sustainability literacy into all tertiary education business programs, both undergraduate and postgraduate, irrespective of social culture and economic development. The argument is premised on assertions of emerging sustainability values in countries around the world, the powerful impact of the business sector on resource use in society and the role of Education for Sustainability (EfS) in shaping graduates attitudes, knowledge and capabilities. Given EfS and sustainability itself are both journeys of learning, tertiary institutions and business schools in particular, must actively engage and navigate their students’ journey of learning towards sustainability.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)






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Common Ground Publishing



Peer Reviewed

  • No

Open Access

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External Author Affiliations

Faculty of Arts, Business, Informatics and Education; Not affiliated to a Research Institute;

Era Eligible

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International journal of environmental, cultural, economic and social sustainability.