“Oh This Learning, What a Thing It Is!”—Putting Sustainability First in Teaching Techniques and in Content

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Although sustainability has become a strategic topic at many universities, working towards a learning approach in which sustainability is the fundament underlying and permeating the entire course is hardly straightforward. This paper is a case study on the development, the teaching, and the evaluation of one specific course that aims to achieve this. Based on (participant) observation, documents, and discussion with students and other stakeholders, we describe and analyze the results of the transformation of the course 'advanced management accounting techniques' for Masters students at the University of Groningen, in the academic year 2017-2018. We show how the course was transformed in a way to increase both a general, a business, and an accounting awareness of the importance of sustainability, while also applying a new teaching approach, namely lemniscate learning, to support this. Our course was the first in the faculty to make this transformation, and although the majority of the students were enthusiastic, the faculty staff was cautiously positive. In presenting our findings, we aim at supporting educators and other stakeholders at universities, by supplying a case study on the transformation of our course, and by scrutinizing the problems that we encountered, the feedback, both positive and negative, that we received, and the challenges that still face us, both on a course and a university level. Thus, we hope to be a source of inspiration and advice for others and to further advance our understanding of the dilemmas, practicalities, and challenges in working towards sustainability in teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2803
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • case study
  • sustainable education
  • practice-oriented teaching
  • management accounting
  • lemniscate learning

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