International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2016-07-01)

Learning sustainability leadership: An action research study of a graduate leadership course

  • Heather Burns

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 2


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This study used action research methodology to examine the development of sustainability leadership in a graduate leadership course. The research investigated the impact of this leadership course, which was designed using transformative learning theory with attention to integrating thematic content, multiple and non-dominant perspectives, a participatory process, and a contextual place-based approach. Grounded theory was used to explore if and how students’ understanding of sustainability leadership changed, and the pedagogical strategies that were most influential to their learning. Results revealed that students came to understand sustainability leadership as: the facilitation of a shared process, a process of emergence, and a way of being. Key pedagogical strategies that stood out as being most influential to students’ learning of sustainability leadership including: creating a sense of community, learning from peers, and case-in-point experiential learning. These results point to key pedagogical elements that may support the development of sustainability leadership in higher education courses.