Sustainability Management: The missing link in management education
Lesley J. Stone and Martin Brueckner, Curtin University of Technology, Australia
It is widely recognised that trans-disciplinary collaboration and the integration of different types of knowledge are required to operationalise sustainability. Yet, the ethos of sustainability has failed thus far to permeate the curriculum and the administrative structures of many universities. In the face of growing concerns for the environment and worsening ecosystem health, the learning contexts typical of universities world-wide fail to meet the needs of students, the community, and wider natural systems. The ‘sustainability void’ within established curricula (e.g. business, health, engineering) shows that many curricula are still inappropriate for learning about the complexities of social systems, institutions and their environment.

Potentially, university graduates are tomorrow’s leaders of society. Their success will depend on their development of an open attitude, requisite knowledge and public sense to discharge their responsibilities in the interest of society and the environment. Higher education should facilitate and encourage such development and thus provide learning contexts in which interdisciplinary co-operation can flourish and students can adopt a meaningful orientation to learning about the world at large. This will require the cultivation of a more open attitude, and greater collaboration between traditionally unconnected disciplines.

Against this background, this paper perceives sustainability management as an integrative link in the training and education portfolio for tomorrow’s graduates. The authors report on sustainability management programmes taught at Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia. These programmes encourage more interdisciplinary and integrative approaches to learning. They are also ethics-based, give recognition to the various stakeholders within the sustainability debate, and emphasise the need for mutual respect and responsibility. This paper elaborates on the programmes’ structure and provides a vision on how sustainability management can facilitate the promulgation of sustainability values and assist in the instilment of a sustainability culture in future university graduates.

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