Interest in and understanding of the various competencies that university sustainability and environmental graduate degree programs should aim for has increased in recent years. Yet empirical efforts that assess the effectiveness of programs from a competency building perspective have visibly lacked—particularly from a macro-perspective examining multiple cases. This study fills this gap in the literature by conducting a novel comparative assessment of different types of master's degrees in a sample of 14 programs from top-performing universities in Europe, Asia and North America. Our study uses quantitative and qualitative approaches to assess the effectiveness of differing types of programs at building key sustainability competencies defined in the literature, and to understand the defining characteristics of programs, innovative competency building approaches, challenges encountered, and potential countermeasures. Using a typological methodology, this study classifies programs into three categories: research-oriented, neutrally-oriented and practice-oriented and then examined the competency building effectiveness of each category through questionnaires administered to faculty (n = 40) and students (n = 205).Results revealed low success in all program types at equipping graduates with anticipatory competencies. Statistically significant differences were also observed between research-oriented and practice-oriented programs, with the latter demonstrating higher success in building interpersonal, strategic and normative competencies. Qualitative questionnaire responses revealed a widespread student demand for more practice-orientated learning and collaborative projects with societal stakeholders. However they also highlight the important role of research-oriented programs at equipping students with theoretical and conceptual knowledge. From a sustainability competency building perspective, the findings point to a need for research-oriented programs to integrate practice-based didactic approaches for building skills and methods via real-world learning projects with external stakeholders. They also prompt a reconsideration of the special importance of research-oriented sustainability and environmental degree programs in a higher education landscape increasingly shaped by vocational and job market expectations.
Journal of Cleaner Production – Elsevier
Published: Apr 20, 2018
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 12 million articles from more than
10,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Read as many articles as you need. Full articles with original layout, charts and figures. Read online, from anywhere.
Keep up with your field with Personalized Recommendations and Follow Journals to get automatic updates.
It’s easy to organize your research with our built-in tools.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera