This study aims to detect preschool and primary school student–teachers’ (STs) views about the social pillar of urban sustainability and particularly about the importance they attach to various social aspects of urban sustainability, and the perceived effectiveness of education in influencing these aspects.Design/methodology/approachA custom-designed questionnaire comprising eight literature-based social aspects of urban sustainability was developed and administered to 207 STs during the spring semester of 2015-2016, in the school of education, of a university located in northern Greece.FindingsThe highest levels of importance were attached to the aspect of “Health”, whereas aspects related to “Policy and Governance” were considered as the least important of all social aspects of urban sustainability. The aspect considered most easily influenced through education was that of “Human Relations”, in contrast to the aspect of “Housing” in which education was considered as the least effective. Also, STs considered every aspect of social urban sustainability to be more important than able to be influenced by education, revealing that they are somewhat sceptical of the effectiveness of education in this field.Research limitations/implicationsThe participation of only student-teachers and the use of quantitative research tools are among the main limitation of the study. Future research should include teachers, both in-service and pre-service, from various disciplines and educational levels, and should employ a combination of quantitative with qualitative methods of analysis.Practical implicationsInsight into STs’ views can serve as a useful guidance for teacher education programs, providing information about necessary actions that have to be taken for the improvement of both pre- and in-service teacher educations.Originality/valueThere is a great lack of research around pre- and in-service teachers’ views about the importance of sustainability and the role of education in influencing it. Existing research is further scarcer when it comes to the investigation of the social pillar of urban sustainability, as literature usually focuses either on the environmental pillar of sustainability or on the concept of sustainable development in general.
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 15, 2018
Keywords: Education for sustainable development; Effectiveness of education; Importance of social aspects; Social pillar; Student-teachers’ views; Urban sustainable development/sustainability