Editor: Wim Lambrechts
Editor-in-chief: Prof. Johannes Platje

Skills, Competences and Mind-sets for Sustainability

 

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Vol. 3, No. 3, 7-19, September 2019

21st century skills, individual competences, personal capabilities and mind-sets related to sustainability: a management and education perspective

Author: Wim LAMBRECHTS
Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, the Netherlands

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Aim: This editorial article provides a general introduction into the topic of this special issue. It highlights the attention given to, and the differences in interpretations of, 21st century skills, individual competences, personal capabilities and mind-sets related to sustainability, specifically in management and education contexts. Furthermore, the article gives an overview of the articles included in this special issue.

Design/Research methods: Recent developments in the field are presented, based on a literature review. Differences in interpretations between management and education perspectives, as well as differences and similarities in conceptualisations of these constructs are discussed.

Findings: The article describes current issues that are being discussed in the debate around 21st century skills, individual competences, personal capabilities and mind-sets related to sustainability. Although different concepts are presented in the literature, they also have basic assumptions and characteristics in common, mainly the combined (holistic) approach of skills, competences, attitudes and values. However, the discussion has become blurred due to mixing interpretations of business context and education context.

Originality/value of the article: The main value of this introductory article of the special issue, is that it outlines similarities and differences in interpretations of 21st century skills, individual competences, personal capabilities and mind-sets related to sustainability.

Keywords: 21st century skills, individual sustainability competences, capabilities, mind-sets, higher education for sustainable development, sustainable management

JEL: I20, I23, J24, Q01, Q56

DOI: doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.29015/cerem.855


Vol. 3, No. 3, 19-44, September 2019

Assessment of sustainability competencies: a literature review and future pathways for ESD research and practice

Authors: Gisela CEBRIÁN
Camilo José Cela University, Spain
Jordi SEGALÀS, Àngels HERNÁNDEZ
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – Barcelona Tech, Spain

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Aim: This paper aims at reviewing existing theoretical frameworks in sustainability competencies and identifying suitable evaluation strategies and instruments for sustainability competencies assessment in the context of Education for Sustainable Development.

Design / Research methods: To gain a comprehensive view of the evaluation and assessment processes of sustainability competencies a systematic literature review was conducted using a set of keywords. After a refining phase and selection of articles centred in evaluation processes a final sample of 43 articles was analysed.

Conclusions / findings: Little evidence exists on the development, outcomes and impact that courses introducing students to sustainability competencies have. Further empirical research is needed on the development and implementation of assessment tools for sustainability competencies.

Originality / value of the article: This paper outlines the state of the art of evaluation and assessment tools for sustainability competencies in higher education and suggests pathways for further research and practice based on a systematic literature review.

Keywords: sustainability competencies, sustainability, higher education, assessment, evaluation

JEL: I20, I23, J24, Q01, Q56

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29015/cerem.664


Vol. 3, No. 3, 45-87, September 2019

The seven sustainability competences according to the RESFIA+D Model. Part A: conceptual background

Authors: Niko ROORDA
Roorda Sustainability, The Netherlands
Anouchka RACHELSON
Miami Dade College, USA

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Aim: The article describes the origins, structure and validation of a model for professional competences for sustainable development, called RESFIA+D. The model provides an assessment and policy instrument that can easily be applied practically.
Companies, NGO’s and other organizations may apply RESFIA+D as a structured tool for human resource development (HRD). Institutions for higher and vocational education can use the instrument for education (re)development, where curricula and didactic approaches are derived from a systematically designed competence profile in which sustainable development is integrated. Finally, individual professionals may use RESFIA+D as a tool for professional development.

Design / Research methods: The article defines the concepts of “competence” and “competent professionals”, in an easily understandable style. Next, the structure of the RESFIA+D model is described. Scientific details, such as origins and validation, are described elsewhere; references are made to other sources.
The basic set of RESFIA+D competences is combined with a structure of seven competence levels, which allows users to express the assessment results on an ordinal scale. This scale enables users to design plans for systematic improvements, both at a strategic and an operational level.

Conclusions / findings: RESFIA+D was applied successfully within companies, universities, and by individual professionals. Details of the applications will be offered in a follow-up article called “The Seven Sustainability Competences according to the RESFIA+D Model. Part B: Practical Experiences” in this same journal. Using a “cover” principle, the model is in accordance with, and complements other models for SD (sustainable development) competences.

Originality, value of the article: The article focuses in a unique way on the roles of individual professionals towards sustainability, whereas most or all usual assessment models focus on the roles of either entire organizations, or of individual persons seen as civilians or customers.

Keywords: competences, sustainable development, RESFIA+D, Human Resource Development (HRD), professionals, organizations, education.

JEL: I20, I23, J24, Q01, Q15, Q56

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29015/cerem.771


Vol. 3, No. 3, 89-105, September 2019

The seven sustainability competences according to the RESFIA+D Model. Part B: practical experiences

Authors: Niko ROORDA
Roorda Sustainability, The Netherlands
Anouchka RACHELSON
Miami Dade College, USA

Article: PDF download >>

 

Aim: In a previous article within this same journal, called “The Seven Sustainability Competences according to the RESFIA+D Model. Part A: Conceptual background”, the origins, structure and validation were described of a model for professional competences for sustainable development, called RESFIA+D. The model provides an assessment and policy instrument that can easily be applied practically. Examples of such applications are offered in the current article. Companies, NGO’s and other organizations may apply RESFIA+D as a structured tool for human resource development (HRD). Institutions for higher and vocational education can use the instrument for education (re)development, where curricula and didactic approaches are derived from a systematically designed competence profile in which sustainable development is integrated. Finally, individual professionals may use RESFIA+D as a tool for professional development.

Design / Research methods: The practical applications described in this article offered a way to evaluate and improve the RESFIA+D model, which contributed to the validation process of the assessment tool.

Conclusions / findings: Based on reactions of users, it is concluded that the RESFIA+D assessment is helpful to enable organizations and individual professionals to understand their strengths and weaknesses in their competences in relation to sustainable development; and to enable educational institutions, e.g. universities, to improve their educational goals, competence profiles and curricula related to sustainable development.

Originality, value of the article: The article focuses in a unique way on the roles of individual professionals towards sustainability, whereas most or all usual assessment models focus on the roles of either entire organizations, or of individual persons seen as civilians or customers.

Keywords: competences, sustainable development, RESFIA+D, Human Resource Development (HRD), professionals, organizations, education

JEL: I20, I23, J24, Q01, Q15, Q56

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29015/cerem.854


Vol. 3, No. 3, 107-128, September 2019

The role of higher education in preparing youth to manage a sustainable future workplace

Authors: Mona BETOUR EL ZOGHBI
Independent Sustainability Consultant, Beirut, Lebanon
Wim LAMBRECHTS
Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, the Netherlands

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Aim: This paper aims to highlight the different forms, levels and pathways of engagement with climate change and sustainability of young people living in different contexts of vulnerability and adaptability. It explores different perspectives and viewpoints of youth regarding complex and uncertain issues related to climate change and sustainability as well as their future role on the workplace.

Research Methods: The critical interpretivist study was conducted in the Netherlands and South Africa, and participants were undergraduate and postgraduate university students from diverse socio-demographic and academic backgrounds in the two countries. The study applied various methods of data collection including focus groups, interviews, policy document reviews as well as participant-observation at several youth and environmental events and forums.

Conclusions/Findings: Key findings highlight the importance of building resilience and empowering academic and civic platforms that enhance young people’s competences to manage sustainability-oriented lifestyles and workplaces through critical, creative, and collaborative processes.

Keywords: youth education, engagement, empowerment, climate change, sustainability.

JEL: I20, I23, J24, Q01, Q56

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29015/cerem.692


Vol. 3, No. 3, 129-167,. September 2019

What’s being tested and what’s being learnt? A contribution to lessons learned evaluation methods for community-based sustainability initiatives

Authors: Andrew MITCHELL, Mark LEMON, Gavin FLETCHER
De Montfort University, United Kingdom

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Aim: There is little good practice guidance with respect to methods and skills for conducting lessons learned evaluations of community-based development projects. In this paper we utilise a mixed methods approach to evaluate the lessons learned by the team members and stakeholders of a funded five year “test-and-learn” UK-based sustainability initiative. The approach combines a statistical and a qualitative thematic analysis of transcribed textual data and presents an analytic framework with which to track the lessons learned by community development projects.

Design/Research methods: A mixed methods approach combining text and sentiment mining complemented by a qualitative thematic analysis is applied to the same data collected from stakeholder responses to an on-line survey and the transcribed audio recordings of four focus groups in which stakeholders participated.

Conclusions/findings: Employing replicable tools, augmented by qualitative research methods, provide a framework for a systematic approach to elicit and capture lessons learned by a sustainable community development project. These bear on how project activities, from engagement to supporting the local food economy, have been experienced by stakeholders and their learning acquired over the course of the project. Implications for future project design and funding options are considered.

Originality/value of the article: Despite the evident value of its contribution to improving project design and funding options, the evaluation of lessons learned in community-based sustainability work remains under-researched. This paper reflects a double description of the same data through the novel combination of text and sentiment mining techniques with more traditional qualitative thematic analysis, which demonstrates an alternative method of evaluation in this field.

Key words: lessons learned; evaluation; community development; sustainability policy; project management

JEL: R58, Q01, Z18

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29015/cerem.596


Vol. 3, No. 3, 169-198, September 2019

Cooking up a Course: Teaching sustainable marketing at MBA

Author: Ynte K. VAN DAM
Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands

 

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Aim: To explore how a critical course on mainstream marketing and business theory can shift the perception of sustainability as an extrinsic goal to sustainability as an intrinsic boundary condition to business.

Design/Method: An introductory course is designed in which a system approach is introduced by assessing the purported marketing purposes of the firm relative to an increasing range of manifest and latent stakeholders. Key elements of the course are received elements of MBA programs to illustrate that education for sustainability does not mean teaching new topics, but means a new way to teach old topics.

Finding: It is shown that the course meets the requirements and recommendations that were derived from theory on teaching sustainability in higher education. Though the topics and theories covered are central to a mainstream MBA program, the way they are presented and questioned promotes learning critical thinking by doing. The long term effects of this approach cannot yet be tested, and require longitudinal research among participants and teachers of the consecutive courses

Originality: Within the boundaries of mainstream MBA the course invites critical reflection of established theories from a sustainability perspective. Being presented as the foundation of an MBA program sustainability is offered as a boundary condition for corporate management,.

Key words: sustainable marketing; education; MBA

JEL: A2, D4, M0

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29015/cerem.827


Vol. 3, No. 3, 199-204, September 2019

Sustainability in higher education from the perspective of business ethics and corporate sustainability

Author: Luc VAN LIEDEKERKE
University of Antwerp & University of Leuven, Belgium

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Aim: In this epilogue to the special issue, the author provides a reflection on the commonalities between the origins of business ethics and corporate sustainability on the one hand, and Higher Education for Sustainable Development on the other hand.

Design / Research methods: The paper is reflective and provides future avenues to further develop the fields of business ethics, corporate sustainability, and Higher Education for Sustainable Development.

Conclusions / findings: Although both fields developed independently, they share the same focus on interdisciplinary studies, integrated thinking, and looking beyond the short term and local interests.

Originality / value of the article: In the end, both disciplines are carried by a fundamental normative choice for an inclusive, sustainable society, a choice that should never be forgotten and is the horizon of all our research.

Key words: business ethics, corporate sustainability, higher education for sustainable development, interdisciplinary approaches

JEL: I23, M14, Q01, Q56

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29015/cerem.85