EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING ABOUT SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN BUSINESS EDUCATION – COURSE DESIGN, EXPERIENCES, AND TRANSFERABILITY
1 Vienna University of Economics and Business (AUSTRIA)
2 University College of Teacher Education Vienna (AUSTRIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2023
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Teaching and learning about sustainable development has to consider challenges, such as interdisciplinarity, trade-offs, ambiguities, critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills. The methods applied in business education comprise lectures and case studies, project-based learning and role-plays, as well as simulations and games. These methods show substantial differences regarding key characteristics, such as student engagement, preparation time, and standardized assessment of learning outcomes. Although active learning methods, such as experiential learning, show higher effectiveness, business schools are frequently criticized for not providing sufficient practical learning experiences and well-documented course designs are rare. The purpose of this paper is to present a course design with a strong emphasis on experiential learning that we have implemented more than fifty times over the last ten years on bachelor level at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, reaching more than 1,200 participants in total. The modular course concept consists of a kickoff meeting, three thematic trainings, three academic assignments, and two days of simulation games, role-playing, group exercises, and several rounds of reflection and evaluation. This basic structure was applied to a broad variety of SDG-related themes, such as Supply Chain Management, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability Reporting and Communication, Human Rights, Circular Economy, and Responsible Innovation.
The learning objectives of the course are:
(1) orientation knowledge on the general theme of the course and in-depth knowledge of a specific topic;
(2) skills in the areas of research, synthesis, writing, argumentation, presentation, and negotiation; and
(3) increased reflexivity concerning the different interests and perspectives of the various groups of actors relevant to the topic of the course.
In our full paper we describe the core elements of our course design, provide insights into success conditions and potential pitfalls, explain how the course can be adapted and replicated, and discuss the requirements for experiential learning.
The course leaders themselves have undergone multiple circles of experiential learning, reflected on their experiences together, adapted the elements of the course, and experimented with their application. On this basis we will present our learnings regarding the following issues:
- How to balancing scientific soundness with rich experiences
- How to ensure the practical relevance of simulation games and role-plays
- How to establish a respectful conversation culture
- How to facilitate students’ experiences with role-playing and group dynamics.
- How to consider different perspectives, conflicts of interest, and ambiguity
By providing rich insights into the course design, its main components, and the experiences we have gathered from it, we hope to inspire and motivate other educators to apply similar methods of experiential learning on sustainable development in business education.
Keywords: Business education, sustainable development, experiential learning.