Implementing Integrative Approaches to Sustainability in Higher Education: the role of project-oriented learning

Authors: Lealh Filho, W., Shiel, C. and do Paco, A.

Start date: 1 November 2015

Higher education institutions are increasingly placing an emphasis on students’ acquisition of a broader range of skills or attributes within the taught curriculum, which should lead to a widening of their chances in the employment market. Among other issues, matters related to sustainable development are playing a key role, but many universities do not yet cater for integrative approaches, which may help them to approach sustainability issues in a transformative way. It is therefore necessary to develop new approaches and methods, which may fill in this gap. Based on the importance of addressing this perceived research need, this paper defines the role of project-oriented learning, also designated as Project Based Learning (PBL), as a tool towards integrative approaches to sustainability in a higher education context, and introduces a set of variables which influence its implementation. The scientific value of the paper resides on the fact that it describes some examples of successful approaches to Project Based Learning (PBL) and lists some of the trends which characterise it. The paper also makes clear why project-oriented learning be more widely used in support of integrative approaches to sustainability, and to become part of the routine of higher education institutions. Some of the initiatives recently and currently being undertaken, as examples which may inspire and assist the implementation of PBL are described, and some future perspectives are outlined.

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