The first in-person event of CSEAR Education Community of Practice (ECoP) was held in St-Andrews on August 21, 2023, under the theme of Radical pedagogies and co-learning. A fringe event to the CSEAR conference, ECoP 4 took the form of a workshop offering two plenaries as well as World Café discussions.
The first plenary, Rewilding Accounting Education, was given by Lisa Powell (Monash University). Lisa provided rich insights on how to mobilize creativity, connections, and collaborations to disrupt accounting education, moving it away from a traditional, Western perspective. Through her talk, she highlighted the importance of making the interrelatedness of human, non-humans, and nature central to teaching accounting. The Q&A session that followed evolved around students’ reaction (from resistance to engagement) and the ways to navigate institutional requirements while remaining true to the approach.
Matias Laine (Tampere University) followed, with a plenary co-developed with Helen Tregidga (Royal Holloway University of London) entitled Experiences in teaching with the Sustainability Accounting and Accountability textbook: How we (don’t) use the textbook in our own teaching. After providing the backstage of the book development, he provided examples of the central or peripheral mobilization of the book in teaching, revealing how the mobilization of textbooks and other research texts in education is contingent on experience and context. Discussions emerging from the Q & A session coalesced on the importance of textbooks to document practices at some point in time and to populate (properly!) the changing sustainability accounting landscape.
A World Café followed, with simultaneous rounds of discussions organized around themes derived from the participants’ expressions of interest. In the first theme, Integrating sustainability into courses/curriculum, conversations started by noting the shifting institutional (accounting, accreditations and education) landscapes and changing sustainability education expectations by the public and the students, combined with the ever-increasing risk of sustainability education being used to greenwash. It seemed that one of the ways to successfully integrate sustainability concerns into education emerges through cross-disciplinary programs.
Connecting with students: understanding their background, getting them engaged and keeping them engaged was the theme of the second discussion. Here too, our participants noted some contextual elements, in the increasing prevalence of eco-anxiety and concerns among students, revealing the need to ask how to deal with those as educators. It appeared that developing a repertoire of multiple approaches that can be adapted to different institutional settings and classroom contexts might be fruitful. Many also emphasized the importance of making student engagement purposeful and hopeful.
The third discussion focused on Unpacking the complexity of sustainable development: the challenges of translating wicked problems into coherent sessions/modules. Here again contextual aspects arose, as the need for sensitivity to and consideration of the cultural contexts were highlighted by the participants. Many ways of unpacking the complexity emerge, among which the adoption of a critical perspectives about the SDGs, the analysis and use of technologies as means to understand the complexity and the consideration of impacts and dependencies across the supply chain.
Keen to avoid omitting aspects of matter to our participants, we also set up a wild card table offering the opportunity to participants to explore other issues. Elements such as artificial intelligence, including the infamous ChatGPT, were discussed. Broader reflections also arose, noting how many of the elements discussed during the event do not relate solely to sustainability accounting education but resonate more broadly due to their complexity and interconnectedness. This is certainly indicative of the need to continue these discussions!
Of course, this short blog cannot do justice to a full afternoon of engagement and discussions. To learn more, you will find a video recording of the plenaries along with further resources in the CSEAR Members’ Area.
Huge thanks to our panellists once again, for their insights, time, and generosity.
Two more events will be held during 2023-24: in January 2024 we will discuss Equity, diversity and inclusion: Teaching the issue and enabling a safe classroom and in April 2024, Academic autonomy and SEA experiments. You will find more details on these events this fall in the CSEAR newsletter and on the CSEAR website.