Would Teaching Sustainable Development Business Strategies Shift Students’ Mindsets? An Australian Experience

By Theodora Issa, Tomayess Issa and Vanessa Chang.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The aim of this study is to examine students’ Reactions towards sustainability and ‘Green IT’ following the completion of the postgraduate unit ITS6 in semester 2 2010. It is evident that emerging concept relating to the topic ‘Sustainability and Green IT’ are gaining momentum, having an increased importance for both practitioners and academics alike. This comes especially following the self-reflection by all parties following the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/2009 coupled with the ongoing change in climate. Both of these factors are having their negative ramifications on individuals, businesses, communities, and societies, urging them to question their involvement and any efforts that they might exert to avert or rather reduce the negative consequences experienced so far.
Business schools were amongst those who have been blamed for economic, societal and environmental failures. Several of these business schools were and continue to be taking measures to rectify what might have been lack of concentration on ‘soft issues’ in business and management. Indeed, the idea behind the development of ITS6 unit was to enhance and improve students’ awareness of the roles information technology and information systems play in business, their impact, and that of business on all aspects of life including the environment. To assist students to achieve this unit’s outcomes, assessments were designed in a manner that would allow them to foster synthesis within their studies, thus developing, improving, and enhancing their learning and understanding. The assessments were three: three reflective accounts/journals, an oral presentation, and a written report.
Through the preparation of their three reflective accounts/journals, students were able to reflect on their learning. This activity formed a major part of their overall unit assessment. This specific activity and being in three parts allowed proper monitoring of students’ developments and enhanced capabilities. This assessment was designed to offer students the experience to critically, creatively and reflectively, review and record key aspects and concepts. These experiences were coupled with their thoughts about materials provided or located by them either through their ongoing readings of textbooks, journal articles or through their searches over the World Wide Web.
Adopting this assessment at the postgraduate level while teaching ‘ITS6’ entailed two benefits. First, it allowed us to teach students how to analyse and synthesise the diverse types of information outlined in the sourced articles and publications. Second, as a result of their own readings, analyses, and syntheses, students were able to enhance their own learning in this unit, thus displaying a shift in their frames and understanding of the material presented to them and generated by them. As a result, this unit ultimately changed the students’ mindsets. For this study, the researchers collected the data through quantitative and qualitative techniques. This was done to lessen the shortcomings of each method when used on its own.
This study provides a reflection on such activity, establishing a comparison to ascertain whether students have benefited from the material provided in this unit, and thus whether outcomes identified and attached to this unit were achieved. This study is a rather modest contribution to the ongoing debate as to whether students’ mindsets shift following exposure to material that they were almost unaware of, thus changing their mindsets and transforming them into advocates of sustainable development and its relationship with the IT industry.

Keywords: Sustainability, Business Strategies, ‘Green IT’, Mindsets, Postgraduate Students, Australia

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp.257-272. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 851.713KB).

Dr. Theodora Issa

Lecturer, Curtin Business Faculty, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

Dr. Theodora Issa is the Unit Coordinator and Lecturer at the Faculty Office, Curtin Business School, Curtin University, Australia. Theodora is responsible for the re-design of the final core unit offered at the Business School, which intends to cultivate students’ learning experience, thus enhancing their abilities to participate in the development of global society, being more equipped to meet the ever-increasing challenges locally and globally. Theodora’s PhD thesis on ethical mindsets, spirituality and aesthetics has been the recipient of the 2010 EFMD/Emerald Outstanding Doctoral research award. Theodora holds a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Electronic Commerce and a Master of Management Research. Theodora’s engagement with higher education started with her teaching at the School of Information Systems in the areas of Web Design and Problem analysis, during which period she supervised students who implemented industry-based information systems projects. Thereafter, Theodora moved to the School of Management, teaching management and business ethics for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Theodora’s research interests include teaching, online teaching and learning, ethical mindsets, ethical climate, spirituality, aesthetic judgment, sustainable business development and ethical strategies, which ignited her interest in Green IT and cloud-computing. Theodora participated in several conferences on ethics, teaching and learning, sustainability, and has been the recipient of ‘best paper’ awards in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Theodora has been awarded ‘The New Researcher of the Year’ prize by the Curtin Business School, Australia. Theodora has published in several peer-reviewed journals, is a member of editorial committees, and a member of different governing bodies.

Dr. Tomayess Issa

Lecturer, School of Information Systems, Curtin University, WA, Australia

Tomayess Issa is a senior Lecturer at the School of Information Systems at Curtin University, Australia. In addition, she is a Postgraduate Course leader and Postgraduate Online Coordinator. Tomayess has vast experience in Australian tertiary education, teaching Usability and Human Computer Interaction, Social Network, Sustainability and Green IT, Networking and Operating Systems. Tomayess completed her doctoral research in Web development and Human Factors. As an academic, she is also interested in establishing teaching methods and styles to enhance the students’ learning experiences and resolve problems that students face. Currently, Tomayess is teaching undergraduate and postgraduate units at the School of Information Systems, focusing mainly on usability, human computer interaction, web 2.0, web 3.0, sustainability and Green IT, Cloud Computing, networking and operating system. In recognition of her hard work and dedication, she received awards from the Curtin Business School and her school for her teaching. Tomayess has participated in several conferences on Human Computer Interaction, Internet, teaching and learning, and published her work in several peer-reviewed journals. Tomayess is a member of an international conference program committee, and she is currently conduct research locally and globally in information systems, HCI, Usability, Internet, Sustainability and Green IT, social network and teaching and learning.

Prof. Vanessa Chang

Head of School, School of Information Systems, Curtin University, WA, Australia

Associate Professor Vanessa Chang is currently the Dean of Teaching and Learning at Curtin Business School, Curtin University. Her research interests include Global IT Management, IT Governance, Business Process Management, Cloud Computing, and ‘Green IT’. In addition, her research interests also cover areas of e-learning environments, virtual worlds, and Web 2.0. She has experience in consulting and teaching in Information Technology Management, IT Planning, Business Systems Analysis, Object-Oriented Analysis, and Agile Development Methodologies.

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