Beyond Interpersonal Competence: Teaching and Learning Professional Skills in Sustainability

Arizona State University

Publication Release Date: Jan. 1, 2017
Date Posted: April 25, 2017
Submitted by: Monika Urbanski
Sustainability Topic: Curriculum
Content Type: Publications
Periodical Name: Education Sciences
Type: Journal Article


Successful careers in sustainability are determined by positive real-world change towards sustainability. This success depends heavily on professional skills in effective and compassionate communication, collaborative teamwork, or impactful stakeholder engagement, among others. These professional skills extend beyond content knowledge and methodical expertise. Current sustainability programs do not sufficiently facilitate students’ acquisition of such skills. This article presents a brief summary of professional skills, synthesized from the literature, and why they are relevant for sustainability professionals. Second, it presents how these skills have been taught in an undergraduate course in sustainability at Arizona State University, USA. Third, it critically discusses the effectiveness and challenges of that exemplary course. Finally, the article concludes with outlining the lessons learned that should be incorporated into future course offerings.