The Complexities of Educational Reform for Sustainability in Universities

By: Saman Khan   Cynthia Collado  

This study investigated the educational reform for sustainability by examining to what extent policy sustainability education is being implemented in educational programs. Higher education institutions (HEIs) can play a pivotal role in evolving to a more sustainable society. Many HEIs have committed to the integration of sustainability issues into their education system by adopting declarations of sustainability. Universities have created their own policies and criteria for sustainability educational programs which concentrate on teaching sustainability in different ways. HEIs are not successfully implementing sustainability principals at organizational level. There are many complexities of organizational change for sustainability in higher education. Commonly named complexities to the implementation of sustainability education policy include: a lack of collaboration among faculty and administration, instructors' unfamiliarity of sustainability education policy, and lack of clear assessment of university’s sustainability education policy. This research study aims to examine the extent to which instructors are following the “institutional sustainability education policy” and its objectives in their educational programs. 15 instructors were interviewed. The learning outcomes of sustainability are not fully implemented in any of the educational programs we studied. According to the responses given by the instructors, none of the educational programs met the institutional criteria for sustainability education. Less than half (N=7) of respondents were aware of the sustainability-focused status of their course they were teaching in specific education programs. All instructors from all educational programs indicated that courses have never been reviewed for sustainability content.

Sustainability Education, Learning Outcomes, Sustainability Policy, Organizational Change
Change Management
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Saman Khan

PhD student, Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, United States
United States

Cynthia Collado

Masters Student, Western Michigan University, United States
United States