Track: Engineering Education
In recent times, the private and public sectors are facing the challenges of sustainable development (SD), especially since the adoption of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In this context, higher education institutions (HEIs) with one of their core activity, namely education, have a significant economic, environmental, and societal impact. Especially in today's knowledge society a workforce, capable of shaping and adapting to the green and digital transition, is needed. Two significant higher education outcomes are 1) students’ knowledge, skills, and competences, and 2) their employability. Therefore, HEIs have the responsibility to deliver "employable" graduates, i.e., to educate them thoroughly and equip them with a set of 21st-century skills and competences. Extensive research on the impact of sustainability competence on employability has already shown that improved sustainability competences of students enhance their employability. Literature also shows that there is a worrying deficit of sustainability literacy in undergraduate students in general. Consequently, extensive adaptation and incorporating sustainability competences into IEM curricula in HEIs are still lacking. The transition towards SD demands a variety of complex and transdisciplinary adaptations in IEM education based on evidence-based competence profiles. For these reasons, sustainability fundamentals should be part of the future IEM graduate’s life, because they play a critical role since IEM graduates foster social and economic development through innovation and technology applications. Thus, there is a need to improve and respectively realign IEM education by holistically incorporating SD principles, methods, and tools. In this paper, a methodological approach for the derivation of learning objectives to foster the development of sustainability competences of IEM students is presented. Learning objectives are research-based, i.e., items that incorporate sustainability competences, and are derived from a systematic literature review. These items, i.e., sustainability aspects will be implemented, tested, and finally evaluated in a business economics course design for IEM students at HEIs. This approach allows a feedback loop for both the content and the differentiation of the methods used before the full implementation into the HEI structures. Thus, professionalization efforts such as usability, utility, or feasibility are to be ensured. In the context of course conceptualization, both subject matter experts concerning sustainability content and didactics experts will work together transdisciplinary to ensure quality offerings in terms of content and structure. The basic principles of didactics and methodology in adult education, such as constructive alignment, participant-centeredness, and case reference are considered. At the beginning of the course, using the before-mentioned items students will self-assess their level of sustainability competences based on a quantitative online questionnaire. At the end of the course, students will repeat the questionnaire to reveal any differences or changes that may have occurred. Furthermore, they will have the opportunity to reflect on their self-assessments and to comment on what has changed, what has improved, and what was helpful. This way, a set of items will be tested, subsequently evaluated, and validated, and if necessary adaptations will be implemented into the course design.