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Browsing by Author "Jaakkola, Noora"

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  • Jaakkola, Noora (2019)
    study, I examine the meanings of sustainability in university teaching. The notion of sustainability is considered an empty signifier, which receives situation-related meanings, for example through decisions made in teaching practices. It has been suggested that in higher education the meanings of sustainability are adapted to the political-economic climate of the society, and researchers have called for a stronger perspective on sustainability in higher education. On the other hand, it has been suggested that the integration of sustainability into teaching requires consideration of the epistemological starting points of the disciplines. For this research, I interviewed university teachers who integrate sustainability into their teaching and service personnel who develop sustainability education in a Finnish university. The research material consists of one group discussion and four thematic interviews with a total of 13 interviewees. The analysis was based on the discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. The interviewees emphasized sustainability as solution. In their definitions, the interviewees adapted sustainability to the contexts of society and discipline, thus producing meanings that can be seen as reformist. Some of the interviewees emphasized radical meanings of sustainability, highlighting the necessity of change in the discipline and society. The interviewees integrated sustainability into their teaching through the use of their understandings of both sustainability and teaching and through their assumptions about the students. Through situated choices, sustainability in teaching could be approached more easily, although teachers sometimes chose not to consider sustainability as a multidisciplinary subject with political and emotional dimensions.