Integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum: A case study analysis and sector wide survey of barriers.
Economics is a critical subject in bringing about sustainable development; by its definition it addresses questions of resource allocation. Fundamentally, economics addresses choices about what is produced and consumed in societies. It is these choices and incentives that are central to the root causes of global environmental and social impacts. This paper starts by identifying literature on educating for sustainable development in business and economics and highlights that the integration of sustainable development into mainstream economics curriculum is scant and largely missing based on current evidence.
• First department wide intervention study of integrating sustainability in economics.
• First sector wide survey of barriers to integrating sustainability into economics.
• Surveys identify key barriers to integration of sustainability into economics.
• The Research Excellence Framework is a major barrier to integrating sustainability.
• The approach and survey can be applied elsewhere for comparative analysis.
Economics is a critical subject for the integration of sustainable development into curriculum given the discipline’s influence in shaping social metabolism of societies, inequality, environmental impacts and wellbeing. There are very few empirical studies of the integration of sustainable development into economics curriculum. The purpose of the paper is to conduct analysis of a department wide intervention to integrate sustainable development into economics at a case study University, the first of its kind. The study makes use of surveys, interviews and key word searches to provide both qualitative and quantitative data and findings. Results indicate integration of sustainable development into curriculum on some modules but not the majority of the sample, evidence of resistance was also found. A range of barriers to integrating sustainable development into curriculum were identified in interviews. A sector wide survey on barriers to integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum was then conducted to provide empirical evidence on the subject. This is the first sector wide study of barriers to integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum. Results from the survey show that the Research Excellence Framework is a substantial barrier to integrating sustainable development into economics curriculum. The survey can be developed and applied elsewhere in the world to enable comparative analysis across countries, to get wider evidence on barriers.
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