Learning to change universities from within: a service-learning perspective on promoting sustainable consumption in higher education

Barth, Matthias; Adomssent, Maik; Fischer, Daniel; Richter, Sonja; Rieckmann, Marco


Volume Issue Pages DOI / ISBN / ISSN
62 72-81 DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.04.006


Language Country
English Germany


Progression towards more sustainable consumption patterns is a key challenge of the 21st century. Higher education plays a crucial role in this in as much as it significantly contributes to building the capacity of future generations to deal with real-world problems of unsustainable consumption. However, conceptually substantiated approaches to educating for sustainable consumption in universities are still poorly developed. This paper contributes to bridging this gap. It merges two separate fields of scholarship (service learning and incidental learning) and analyses key aspects of a teaching approach to promoting learning for sustainable consumption in higher education. A case example of a series of project-based seminars is presented that illustrates how this conceptual approach can be applied in practice. This paper illustrates how the integration of the concept of transdisciplinarity into service learning can help to further develop the concept to support rich and meaningful learning settings for students. The paper concludes with a critical appraisal of the approach for moving forward the agenda of higher education for sustainable development in the context of consumption and with a call for further research. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Service learning; Higher education; Sustainable consumption; Incidental learning; Transdisciplinary collaboration

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