Integrating Education for Sustainability and Employability Skills in Higher Education

By IGI Global on Jul 20, 2023
students at work In response to the growing need to integrate education for sustainability into the curriculum while simultaneously fostering student employability skills, Profs. Debbie Willson and Lindsey Carson of chapter nine of, Development of Employability Skills Through Pragmatic Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes, devised an innovative elective module at the University of Strathclyde. This module, which combines employability skill development with education for sustainability, stands as a potential blueprint for colleagues in higher education seeking to implement a similar approach. Drawing upon research on employability concerns, UNESCO's Education Agenda, and their own expertise, the authors meticulously designed the module, incorporating various elements supported by existing research. Furthermore, the authors reflect on the ongoing enhancements made to the module since its inception. As a result, this study serves as a valuable resource for lecturers, tutors, career advisers, and practitioners involved in employability activities, offering guidance on how to effectively enhance student employability skills within the context of sustainable development.
Development of Employability Skills Through Pragmatic Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes Science Ecosystems
Profs. Bidyadhar Subudhi and G.R. Sinha
© 2022 | 296 pgs. | ISBN13: 9781668442104
  • Covers Topics such as Learning Techniques and Tools, Research-Based Learning, & Sustainable Development
  • Ideal for Pre-Service Teachers, Government Organizations, Business Leaders, and Researchers
  • An Excellent Addition to Your Library
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Contributing Author Question & Answer

How does your professional background support your ability to be an authority on this chapter's coverage?

Prof. Willison: I have been in higher education for over 30 years. While initially training as a chemist my interests lie in enhancing the student experience through developing their employability skills. I have published on my work where I developed an employability skills toolkit which has been adopted by over one hundred institutions worldwide. I was also the founder of the Chemistry Clinic at the University of Strathclyde where students can solve real world problems brought to the University from industry. The SDG module allowed me to combine my interests in employability and sustainability into a unique
educational offering.
What specific problems does your chapter address?
Prof. Willison: My chapter addresses how to equip students with the necessary skills and competencies (essentially employability skills) they need to develop so that they can have a real role in solving the world’s complex problems. These skills are often taught in some individual modules which are taken by a proportion of students within an academic institution. This module was created so that it would be available to all students.

How does the chapter provide a solution to these problems?

Prof. Willison: The chapter describes how to create an innovative elective module where students engage in the research taking place within our institution to address the problems associated with the SDGs. Colleagues from all four of our faculties have contributed making this the only module at Strathclyde to have input from across the institution. Students are organized into multidisciplinary groups to work on these challenges and must create an educational resource about the SDGs which explains how they have approached one or several of the problems associated with them. They also must comment on which skills and competencies they have gained during the process. This helps them to understand and articulate these skills as they move into the world of work.

What was the driving force or motivation for starting your chapter?

Prof. Willison: The motivation for starting my chapter came from the call for chapter proposals for the book entitled, "Development of Employability Skills Through Pragmatic Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes." This title aligned with the work that I had conducted in creating an innovative module at the University of Strathclyde where the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are used as a vehicle to support the development of students’ employability skills. It seemed like a great fit.

What special organizations or other professional affiliations give you the experience and the areas that are covered by the book?

Prof. Willison: With over 30 years of experience in academia and education, I have been actively working in a related field to the topic coverage for quite some time. Although my interest in sustainability has developed more recently, spanning over the last decade, I have dedicated myself to furthering my knowledge in this area. My expertise is supported by affiliations with esteemed organizations and professional affiliations. For instance, UNESCO has been instrumental in providing valuable guidance in the field of sustainability for the past 20 years. Additionally, as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, which is affiliated with Advance HE, I have had the opportunity to present at numerous conferences on Sustainability, further enhancing my experience and understanding in the areas covered by this book.

Have you been recognized for academic excellence or other related achievements in this field of study?

Prof. Willison: None yet although I am invited member of an interview panel at an international university who are appointing a chemist in the area of sustainability. I received this invitation due to my achievements in this field of study.

About the Chapter Authors

Debbie Willison is Vice Dean Academic in the Faculty of Science at the University of Strathclyde. She has held an academic post for 30 years and while initially researching in organometallic chemistry, her current interests lie in the areas of student transitions, Education for Sustainability, the enhancement of student employability skills and the use of technology, including online and blended learning, to invigorate the learner journey and enhance the student experience.

Lindsey T. Corson is a Teaching Associate in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Strathclyde. Her research interests lie in technology-enhanced approaches to teaching, learning and assessment.

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