Integrating sustainability into higher education curricula

Session questions(s):

1. What are the good practices that can enhance sustainability integration into higher education curricula across disciplines?

2. How can we achieve transformative change in higher education across disciplines?

3. Who are the kay actors in the process and what roles can they have?


Session description:

The participants of the session had different backgrounds, researchers from different fields, students and education developers. Thus, we had a lively conversation about integration of sustainability from many perspectives: what competencies and capabilities are most important for sustainability, what approaches and practices make it possible to embed sustainability, and what are students’ possibilities to act as change makers in academia.


Session lesson(s):

In the discussion we identified the importance to find a balance between high ambitions and the need to adjust the aims and the actions to the context. Embedding sustainability to different disciplines requires different approaches, the readiness of academics to include sustainability into teaching varies, and institutional context, and its atmosphere matter too. Thus, sometimes transformational action has to start with small steps. Or as one of our participants concluded: “Is it better to take one step or none? I think one step is better”. However, at the same time, the actors should keep in mind the long term goals. After one step there should always be the next one too.

We can identify researchers and teachers in the academia as key persons who have the role to advance sustainability. Students’ role as change makers is crucial too, and the institutions should listen to students. Institutional goal setting and support by the leadership and practical support measures such as support for teachers’ competence development is essential.


Session keyword(s):

sustainability, higher education, curricula, intergration


Noora Jaakkola

Aalto University, University of Helsinki

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