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Students’ perceptions of education for sustainable development in the accounting and business curriculum at a business school in New Zealand

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore students’ perceptions and understandings of, and attitudes towards, education for sustainable development (ESD) at Delta Business School (DBS) in New Zealand [1]. The aim is to extend the limited literature on students’ perceptions of ESD within an accounting and business curriculum. Design/methodology/approach – To ascertain the students’ evaluations of their ESD, a survey was administered to 60 accounting and business students at DBS. The survey data were supplemented with interview evidence from 20 of the 60 students to obtain a deeper understanding of the students’ evaluations. Findings – A majority of the students perceive ESD as a “good thing.” Students were supportive of the sustainable business learning experience offered at DBS. The results suggest that students’ knowledge of sustainable business practices improved significantly from their studies. Practical implications – The paper should assist education providers to assess how students perceive ESD. This may help bring about changes to improve the teaching of sustainable development. Universities can be the main providers of ESD, but other educational providers such as the professional accounting bodies will also need to manage the development of ongoing education processes. Most students at DBS believe they are obtaining a good understanding of the concept of sustainability. Originality/value – There is a shortage of research concerning how students perceive sustainable development education. This paper contributes to the discussion of what to incorporate in sustainable education programmes, to help students properly understand sustainable development. We believe accounting and business education should develop graduates into broad-minded thinkers with a capacity for independent and critical thought. This will prepare them for future leadership roles.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Emerald Insight
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in Meditari Accountancy Research. © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.