The relevance, importance and applicability of sustainable development in Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) education

America, Carina Georgina (2012-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: One of the main features of the Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) learning area is that it prepares learners to participate in an economically complex society where social justice and a healthy environment are key concerns. Teachers are faced with an important learning outcome in the EMS curriculum, namely Sustainable Growth and Development, requiring them to equip learners with an understanding of sustainability and to encourage critical reflection on the related processes. This research aims to explore EMS teachers’ underlying conceptual understanding of sustainable development and to establish how these understandings relate to their teaching practices. The meaning of sustainable development has elicited multiple and contested reactions in the literature. Many authors are in agreement that development strategies should be consistent with the planet’s resources and linked to a balance between society, economy and the environment. However, increased production and consumption resulting from neoliberal economic policies and intensified global competition invariably disturb the earth’s ecosystem. On the one hand, increased economic activity has the advantage of resource development (capital, natural and human resources) that promotes economic growth. On the other hand, this growth occurs at the expense of resource exploitation which in turn leads to environmental degradation, the erosion of cultural identities, health risks and, in many instances, unsustainable lifestyles. There is a growing consensus that knowledge and a changed mindset are required for developing an enhanced focus towards a sustainable future. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) provides the knowledge, skills, values and theories for promoting sustainable development. The research was conducted within a constructivist-interpretivist paradigm. A case study design strategy, as part of a qualitative research approach, was selected to best answer the research question. The data collection was done by means of the literature reviewed, in-depth interviews and subject-object interviews (written explanations). This was followed by the systematic categorisation and coding of the data by means of content analysis. The main finding of the study was that EMS teachers had a single focus with regard to sustainable development: their understanding predominantly related to the economic pillar of sustainable development. The interrelatedness of the economy, society and the environment to achieve sustainable development objectives was not subjected to much scrutiny. This research showed that there is a need for ESD to be integrated into the EMS discourse.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Een van die uitstaande kenmerke van die leerarea: Ekonomiese en Bestuurswetenskappe (EBW) is dat dit leerders voorberei vir deelname binne 'n ekonomies komplekse samelewing waar maatskaplike geregtigheid en ‘n gesonde omgewing ‘n kern-uitdaging vorm. Onderwysers word gekonfronteer met 'n belangrike leeruitkoms in die EBW-kurrikulum, naamlik Volhoubare Groei en Ontwikkeling, wat van hulle verwag om leerders toe te rus met 'n begrip van volhoubaarheid en om kritiese refleksie oor verwante prosesse te stimuleer. Hierdie navorsing het ten doel om die onderliggende konseptuele begrip van volhoubare ontwikkeling by EBW-onderwysers te verken en vas te stel hoe hierdie begrip betrekking het op hul onderrig praktyke. Die betekenis van volhoubare ontwikkeling het verskeie en omstrede reaksies in die literatuur ontlok. Baie outeurs stem saam dat die ontwikkeling van strategieë in ooreenstemming moet wees met die planeet se hulpbronne en gekoppel moet word aan 'n balans tussen die samelewing, die ekonomie en die omgewing. Verhoogde produksie en verbruik, as gevolg van die neoliberale ekonomiese beleid, versterk egter wêreldwye mededinging en versteur sodoende die aarde se ekosisteem. Enersyds het toenemende ekonomiese aktiwiteit die voordeel van hulpbronontwikkeling (kapitaal, natuurlike en menslike hulpbronne) wat ekonomiese groei bevorder. Andersyds vind hierdie groei plaas ten koste van hulpbronbenutting, wat weer lei tot die agteruitgang van die omgewing, die aftakeling van kulturele identiteit, gesondheidsrisiko's, en, in baie gevalle, nie-volhoubare lewenstyle. Daar is 'n groeiende konsensus dat kennis en 'n verandering in denkwyse nodig is om ‘n sterker fokus op 'n volhoubare toekoms te verseker. Opvoeding vir Volhoubare Ontwikkeling (OVO) verskaf die kennis, waardes en teorieë vir die vestiging van volhoubare ontwikkeling. Hierdie navorsing is onderneem binne 'n konstruktivisties-interpretivistiese paradigma. Om die beste antwoord op die navorsingsvraag te bied, is ‘n kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering gekies en ‘n gevallestudie-ontwerpstrategie gevolg. As deel van die data-insameling is die literatuur voortdurend verken en in-diepte onderhoude is gevoer, gevolg deur geskrewe verduidelikings. Hierna is die sistematiese kategorisering en kodering van die data deur middel van 'n inhoudsanalise gedoen. Die belangrikste bevinding van die studie was dat die EBW-onderwysers 'n enkele fokus gehad het ten opsigte van volhoubare ontwikkeling: hul begrip het hoofsaaklik betrekking gehad op die ekonomiese pilaar van volhoubare ontwikkeling. Daar was deurgaans 'n gebrek aan kritiese refleksie oor die interverwantskap tussen die ekonomie, die samelewing, die omgewing en die wyse waarop die doelwitte van volhoubare ontwikkeling bereik kan word. Hierdie navorsing het getoon dat daar 'n behoefte bestaan om OVO binne die EBWleerarea te integreer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/19923
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