Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management., Education, general, including:, *pedagogy



Sustainability has emerged as a megatrend affecting all aspects of management practice. SDG 4.7 has mandated business schools to provide education for responsible leadership and to integrate sustainability principles in their curricula. Faculty are challenged to mainstream sustainability through engaging pedagogy that inspires and offers concrete tools. Yet, pedagogy has been viewed as a key challenge to embedding sustainability in management education.

Design / Methodology / Approach

We highlight the role of reflection in promoting the enhancement of sustainability literacy in business school curricula, supporting our proposition that management education for sustainability must have a reflective dimension that engages students in deeper learning. In addition to exploring theoretical perspectives on sustainability literacy development through reflection, we draw on empirical evidence provided from a study of 300+ student reflective assignments, based on their experiences of the UN Sulitest, using the DIEP (describe, interpret, evaluate, plan) framework.


A thematic analysis of reflective assignments suggest that students engaged in thoughtful reflection that was transformative in nature, broadening their knowledge, questioning their mindsets and fostering change agency. Typical knowledge domains highlighted include: the circular economy, child labour, pollution, equality and clean energy. Students expressed emotions of shock, anger and surprise about the role of human affluence in unsustainable futures.

Research Limitations

Although our analysis paints a story limited to reflection coupled to just one learning experience, namely the UN Sulitest, future pedagogical initiatives might expand to additional tools for promoting sustainability literacy. Whilst it is meant to illustrate how elements of a sustainability literacy are developed, no data was collected to systematically evaluate transformational impact. We recommend further research to evaluate future transformation.

Originality / Value

Our findings contribute to the practical application of reflective pedagogy in promoting the enhancement of sustainability literacy and to a conceptualisation of the role that reflection plays in the pursuit of transformation. Moreover, it provides corroborating evidence to principles of deep learning for sustainability based on the SDG framework, emotional stimuli, advocacy and action.



National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education