Shona Russell and Michelle Rodrigue
On Thursday 26th October, we gathered for the first CSEAR Education Community of Practice for 2023-24. Sheila Killian, Hendrik Vollmer and Clément Boyer offered insights into their experiences of connecting SEA education to priorities of their home institution.
Bringing insights from modules now finished, ongoing teaching and programmes in development, our speakers gave rich insights whether one is thinking of the design of new modules, updating existing teaching or developing new programmes.
Sheila shared her experience of designing and adapting the Social Media for Social Good interdisciplinary module in the mid-late 2010s. The module was available to all first-year undergraduate students and enabled then to develop digital literacy skills through developing social accounts with local charities and organisations. Sheila observed that it is important to survey students to understand what they learn during the module and what stays with them over time (as what they learn might not be what we expected them to learn); and to recognise that additional resources may not necessarily be available to support innovation – highlighting the labour-intensive nature of her experience.
Hendrik documented the process by which he, and colleagues, are working towards a new postgraduate programme on Sustainability Accounting. He emphasised the importance of working with different teams and groups, including employers and professional bodies, to understand and work through the process of programme approval. He also noted that there may be different priorities at play and these conversations could help to surface them and respond accordingly. Whilst it may be tempting to think about new modules and innovations, he recommended working with modules that are on the books, that work well and can be linked to new programmes. The importance of having a good understanding of institutional practices, priorities, and resources ahead of starting the development process came through his talk.
Finally, Clément shared some observations as an educator while undertaking his doctoral research on ecological accounting, focusing on the challenges of teaching to different audiences (management students, engineers, MBA, practitioners, farmers). Clément reminded us that education can be woven into research activities, especially when working with stakeholders who are learning about SEA and developing new tools in their particular contexts. His parting comment reminded us that doctoral students are the next generation of educators and often have rich interactions with students. When developing SEA education, it is useful to think about other members of the teaching team, how topics are framed and the implications of offering specialised SEA modules or programmes or weaving such topics into existing educational offerings.
Taken together, we were able to identify various priorities, that may complement, overlap and sometimes compete with efforts to develop and deliver social and environmental accounting education. Whether at the level of a topic, an activity, a module or a programme, it is beneficial to be – critically – aware of priorities across the accounting profession and higher education landscape.
To find out more about the event, please go to the CSEAR’s members area where you will find a video recording of the speakers’ contributions and copies of their slides.
As ever, we thank our panellists for their insights and time. Thanks also to our participants whose questions and commentary enriched our conversation.
Looking ahead, the next ECoP will welcome Alessandro Ghio (Université Laval), Andrea Romi (Texas Tech University) and Erin Twyford (University of Wollongong) on the topic ‘Equity, diversity and inclusion: Teaching the issue and enabling a safe classroom’ on Thursday 25 January (2100 St Andrews/1600 Québec/1500 Texas – January 26 at 0800 Wollongong). You can register for the event here.