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Competencies for interdisciplinarity in higher education

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Purpose ‐ The overall purpose of this paper is to clarify the current state of the debate with regard to competencies for interdisciplinarity (ID) for sustainable development (SD) in higher education, to provide further analysis, and to make suggestions for next steps on this basis. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper employs a critical literature review to identify key themes and gaps in the debate and considers how competencies for ID might be further supported. Findings ‐ The literature review demonstrates developments towards action competencies in ID for sustainability but with an over-reliance on students guiding their own practice and reflection. Findings highlight potential elements of a more widely informed knowledge literacy, including philosophical, sociological and cultural aspects, that is needed to support the development of these competencies. Research limitations/implications ‐ The paper is limited to discussion of foundational aspects and does not cover possible pedagogical strategies, nor does it cover ways of assessing the attainment of competencies. The literature review is also limited by reasons of space. Practical implications ‐ There is a need for a concerted research effort in order to develop coherent sets of competencies to equip students for ID for SD and other-related fields. Social implications ‐ These competencies are at the heart of the new forms of inter-agency and inter-professional working that is increasingly recognised as essential to deliver care and sustainability in a joined-up world. Originality/value ‐ The originality is high as very little in the sustainability literature to date specifically analyses competencies and supporting knowledge for ID in an accessible manner.

Keywords: Competences; Higher education; Sustainability; Sustainable development

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-09-21

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