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Sustainability : perspectives of students as stakeholders in the curriculum

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Item Summary

Title: Sustainability : perspectives of students as stakeholders in the curriculum
Authors: Hiser, Krista Karyn
Keywords: sustainability
higher education
community colleges
Issue Date: May 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2012]
Abstract: Institutions of higher education are increasingly engaged in sustainability efforts, both in classrooms and on the campus. Yet, little is known about what students really know and believe about sustainability issues. Using Lattuca and Stark's (2009) curricular frame and a single case study approach, this research explored student and non-student stakeholder perspectives on sustainability in a community college setting in Hawaiʻi. Students were interviewed using a focus group methodology to discern group norms around sustainability. Research questions focused on student attitudes and habits, as well as what they knew about sustainability and where they had learned it. Emphasis was on the perspectives of local public high school graduates in their first and second year of college; nonresident students from foreign countries and the continental U.S. were also included.
Focus groups of non-student stakeholders (administrators and faculty) were also conducted around the question, "what should students be learning about sustainability?" These participants discussed the most effective areas in which to concentrate sustainability efforts, such as curriculum, operations, research, vision, and faculty development. Faculty and administrators had differing perspectives; faculty were most interested in teaching values and behavior change, while administrators expressed interest in a more holistic curriculum.
Student data was analyzed across two spectrums, from low to high engagement and from weak to strong sustainability practices, creating four categories: cultural habits, sustainability habitus, karmic retribution, and dissonance. The study's central findings are that students have greater knowledge but less interest in sustainability than generally perceived. First year students had experienced sustainability curricula in high school, but home and culturally based practices appeared to have greater impact. Second year students experienced sustainability content in a wide range of college courses, but expressed more confusion than first year students. All resident student groups expressed overall feelings of disempowerment and hopelessness. Implications from this work include: the use of an affective, multisensory curriculum; more coherent sequencing of sustainability experiences in academic curriculum; cooperation of classroom and campus to reinforce learning; and a shift away from problem-oriented curricula toward a leadership development model that instills entrepreneurial attitudes of resilience, optimism, and self-efficacy.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Education

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