How ?

How does one teach sustainable development to business and economic students ? What do they need know ? What should they be able to do ?
 

Key sustainability knowledge and skills

Pedagogical research identifies four categories of knowledge and skills for sustainability: 1) the ability to think holistically and see how different facets of a problem intertwine; 2) a strong grasp of key concepts and knowledge related to sustainability (e.g. the carbon cycle or how one measures inequality and its effects); 3) the ability to integrate different perspectives and disciplines in the design of a solution; 4) and the capacity to see themselves as actors for change, with the confidence and knowledge to transform ideas into action.

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This knowledge and these skills are integrated into the learning objectives of all of our programmes, as well as programme-specific learning objectives and other transversal skills such as critical thinking.

Thematic pathways

Thematic pathways are an innovative pedagogical mechanism that we have developed in order to offer students an integrated and comprehensive learning experience around sustainability. It builds on the Solvay Brussels School’s long tradition of multidisciplinarity and dialogue with practice, and on its integration into a university covering all disciplines. Each thematic pathway consists of several courses within a programme, typically from different disciplines, each of which address aspects relevant to a sustainable development theme. Pathway instructors work closely together to make sure that their courses complement each other and build on one another to provide comprehensive coverage of the theme.

« We are breaking down barriers between courses, disciplines and instructors » - Estelle Cantillon
 

Pathways guide content development, ensuring that students are exposed to the key concepts and tools relevant for the theme in question (knowledge). By fostering dialogue between disciplines, both within and across courses, pathways also promote students’ ability to see different facets of an issue and to integrate different perspectives when analysing a problem (system thinking and integration). Each pathway ends with a capstone course, where students are asked to use what they have learned to solve real-life problems (action).

pathway


So far, four thematic pathways have been created in the BA in Business Engineering. Together they cover almost 40% of the courses:

  • Energy – combining science, history, economics and management
            a   q   dd   en
  • Circular Economy – combining science, marketing, innovation and entrepreneurship
            g   g   dd
  • Work & People – combining law, psychology and human resource management
            s   aa   sed
  • Human Development – combining history, geography, economics, sociology and management 
  qq   aa   s   v   aa   sed   ddd   aaa

New pathways are currently being developed for the BA in Economics, the Master in Business Economics (sustainable finance) and the Master in Management Science (sustainable business operations).


Pedagogical innovations

We cannot teach students to think out-of-the-box if we do not think out-of-the-box ourselves. Sustainable development has been a great impetus for pedagogical innovation at the Solvay Brussels School. Most of the instructors involved in the project have naturally moved towards a greater use of student-centered learning activities in order to meet their teaching goals. For example, students participate in an international student competition and contribute to a wiki page. There are common cases and practice sessions for different courses as well as interactive workshops. These teaching innovations sit alongside more familiar practices such as group projects and guest lectures by business practitioners.
 

Beyond the classroom

Learning does not stop at the classroom door. Students are also encouraged to develop their own projects related to sustainable development through credited internships, field projects and master’s dissertations and to get involved in the many sustainability-related initiatives on campus.
Updated on June 5, 2020