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ERIC Number: EJ1059476
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 25
ISSN: ISSN-1467-6370
What Do We Say When We Talk about Sustainability?: Analyzing Faculty, Staff and Student Definitions of Sustainability at One American University
Owens, Katharine A.; Legere, Sasha
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, v16 n3 p367-384 2015
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyze how faculty, staff and students at one American University define the term sustainability. Design/methodology/approach: The authors analyze student, staff and faculty definitions by comparing word frequency counts to a list of the 25 most frequently found words in over 100 definitions of sustainability. Next, the authors analyze the definitions through content analysis, producing a list of emergent themes. Findings: The authors find that our definitions do not rate highly when compared to a list of the most frequent words from published definitions, but examining them more closely highlights nuances in understanding. Research limitations/implications: These results can only speak to one university's population, but may be similar to that of comparable schools. Further studies should include comparisons to a range of campus communities, including environmental leaders and laggards. Practical implications: Administrators and educators at institutes of higher education must determine whether an ambiguous understanding of sustainability is sufficient for their own goals in producing an educated citizenry. Social implications: When a community fails to understand sustainability, it impacts how they conceptualize environmental problems and make decisions to solve them. Originality/value: This study shows that unless one has polled a campus population, one cannot know how its members understand a fundamental concept such as sustainability. It also shows that the work of sustainability education is just beginning.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Connecticut