Introducing sustainability into business education contexts using active learning

Jason MacVaugh, Mike Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore how active learning may help address the legitimacy and practicability issues inherent in introducing education for sustainability into business-related degree programs. Design/methodology/approach: The focus of this study is the experience of the authors in the development and implementation of education for sustainability within their business-related higher education programs. To address the inherent challenges of the task, they apply the principles of active learning, with substantial use of problem-based learning, in the classroom and engage in a process of staff development in their personal time. The method used is a simplified version of action research where the authors worked together over two years and then reflected on the experience through interviews and extensive discussions with each other, with their respective teaching teams, and with sustainability educators from outside of their programs. Findings: The findings suggest that active learning approaches move learners away from dependence on (possibly illegitimate and unprepared) educators and towards a personal responsibility approach. This also means accepting that learners are free to understand sustainability in a "global" sense or instead choose only its "business as usual" applications. Originality/value: The paper provides a useful insight into the practical value of active learning for educators grappling with the dilemma of delivering globally responsible business and/or management-related education programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-87
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan 1


  • Active learning
  • Degrees
  • Education for sustainability
  • Higher education
  • Japan
  • Pedagogy
  • Problem based learning
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education


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