Moving beyond cognitive learning: teaching students about partnerships for sustainability

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractEducational


Grand challenges like global climate change require collaboration across companies, NGOs and governments to jointly develop innovative response strategies (Ferraro et al., 2015). Such multi-stakeholder partnerships have gained a solid footing in the organizational landscape (MSI Integrity, 2020). Future managers and business leaders thus not only require specific skills to address grand challenges (Sharma et al., 2022), but also skills to effectively collaborate across organizations and sectors. Yet, traditional management education is predominantly centered on firms and on the development of cognitive learning that “fails to consider that practitioners deal with ill-defined, unique, emotive and complex issues” (Cunliffe, 2002, p. 35). As such, prospective managers and business leaders are ill-equipped to address complex organizational and social problems (ibid.).

To address this gap, we have developed a module, titled Organizing for Sustainability Transitions (OST), that teaches students about the partnership paradigm in the context of sustainability. We drew on the pedagogy of learning through paradox (Lewis & Dehler, 2000) to design the overall course structure, whereas the practice-based wisdom perspective (Zhu et al., 2016), the pedagogy of passion for sustainability (Shrivastava, 2010) and the i5 pedagogy of PRME (PRME, 2023) were used to design the specific learning activities. Drawing on our experience of teaching this module in two consecutive years as well as our initial analysis of student evaluations of the course and their reflective essays on their learning journey in this module, we draw conclusions on how this module contributes to the education of prospective responsible managers and business leaders.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event10TH RESPONSIBLE MANAGEMENT EDUCATION RESEARCH CONFERENCE - Iscte - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Lissabon, Portugal
Duration: 26 Sept 202328 Sept 2023


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