Academic and Discipline Identities as Obstacles to Engaging with Education for Sustainability: Lessons from Law and Social Work

By Peter Jones and Kate Galloway.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: June 22, 2015 $US5.00

Despite significant advances in many areas of higher education, some professional domains remain reluctant or even resistant to incorporating education for sustainability into core curriculum. Social work and law are two areas where some progress is discernable, but where the pace of change appears glacial, particularly when considered in the context of the urgency suggested by the worsening environmental crisis. One explanation for this reluctance may be found in an understanding of the nature of academic and professional identity, and the ways in which such identities may act as conservative and restrictive barriers to change. In this paper, the authors describe the current state of education for sustainability in professional social work and legal education. The concepts of academic and professional identity are then explored and identified as possible sources of resistance to the integration of sustainability into core curriculum. Academic and professional identities are understood as strongly held yet often "invisible" belief systems which may have a significant impact on the nature of higher education. Suggestions are made for ways in which such identity-based resistance may be addressed and overcome.

Keywords: Sustainability, Higher Education, Academic Identity, Social Work, Law

International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 11, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: June 22, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 606.573KB)).

Peter Jones

Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work and Human Services, Faculty of Arts, Education and Social Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia

Kate Galloway

Senior Lecturer, School of Law, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia