Title: Developing a framework for sustainability meta-competencies

Authors: Elyzabeth W. Engle; Susannah H. Barsom; Lydia Vandenbergh; Glenn E. Sterner III; Theodore R. Alter

Addresses: The Pennsylvania State University, 111 Armsby Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA ' Stanford University, 473 Via Ortega, Y2E2 Building, Suite 226, Stanford, California 94305, USA ' The Pennsylvania State University, Land and Water Research Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA ' The Pennsylvania State University, 224D The 329 Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA ' The Pennsylvania State University, 204 Armsby Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA

Abstract: Sustainability is a critical issue in higher education curriculum development and organisational culture, yet its contested nature necessitates a shared understanding to support a distinct mission across institutional efforts. Therefore, this work intended to foster a common language for sustainability competencies through an overarching framework that may be applied across university functions. This case study draws upon key informant interviews and focus groups with sustainability experts within and beyond Penn State University faculty and staff. The five meta-competencies in the resulting framework are systems thinking, temporal thinking, interpersonal literacy, ethical literacy and imagination/creativity. The framework assumes certain foundational competencies are also in evidence, including logical thinking, critical thinking, quantitative analysis, reading and writing. The results offer a starting point for future discussion and application of meta-competencies of sustainability; bridge sustainability competencies work in higher education and in workforce development; and identify the role of imagination/creativity as an important sustainability meta-competency.

Keywords: sustainability meta-competencies; sustainability; competencies; higher education; workforce development; case study; key informant interviews; focus groups.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHES.2017.090204

International Journal of Higher Education and Sustainability, 2017 Vol.1 No.4, pp.285 - 303

Received: 12 May 2017
Accepted: 30 Sep 2017

Published online: 05 Mar 2018 *

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