Learning Responsibility - Teaching Sustainability

Experiential and Transformative Learning in a Business School





RRI, experiential learning, transformative learning, education for sustainability


The emerging concept of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in some ways always relates to sustainability. In the transition towards sustainability, the authors need to build responsibility for both society and the environment in higher education and management education. Non-formal approaches to learning provide an opportunity to transform a student’s ‘head, heart and hand’, including at the social level as well. This paper showcases the role of experiential and transformative learning in higher education practice. Two of their courses are described and analysed, which are intended to familiarise students with the problem of sustainability within economic higher education. The authors share the theoretical and practical experiences of designing, teaching and assessing these courses. They aim to contribute to the discussion on how business education could be producing useful and credible knowledge that addresses problems important to nature and society.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Gabriella Kiss, Corvinus University of Budapest

Associate Professor

Tamás Veress, Corvinus University of Budapest

PhD student

Alexandra Köves, Corvinus University of Budapest

Associate Professor


Abson, D. J., Fischer, J., Leventon, J., Newig, J., Schomerus, T., Vilsmaier, U., von Wehrden, H., Abernethy, P., Ives, C.D., Jager, N. W. & Lang, D. J. (2017). Leverage points for sustainability transformation. Ambio, 46(Febr), 30– 39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-016-0800-y

Arias-Maldonado, M. (2007). An imaginary solution? The green defence of deliberative democracy. Environmental Values, 16(2), 233–252. https://doi.org/10.3197/096327107780474573

Bajmócy Z. & Pataki Gy. (2019). Responsible research and innovation and the challenges of cocreation. In Arno Bammé & Günter Getzinger (eds.), Yearbook 2018 of the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society (pp. 1-15). München; Wien: Profil Verlag.

Bergmann, J. & Sams, A. (2012). Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. Alexandria, VA: International Society for Technology in Education.

Brulle, R. J. (2002). Habermas and Green Political Thought: Two Roads Converging, Environmental Politics, 11(4), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/714000651

Capra, F. & Luisi, P.L. (2014). The systems view of life. A unifying vision. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511895555

Coote, A. & Lenaghan, J. (1997). Citizens’ juries: Theory into practice. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.

Cranton, P. (1994). Understanding and promoting transformative learning: A guide for educators and adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cranton, P. (2002). Teaching for Transformation. New Direction for Adults & Continuous Education, 93, 63-72. https://doi.org/10.1002/ace.50

Daly, H. E. (2007). Frugality first. In Bouckaert, L., Opdebeeck, H. & Zsolnai, L. (Eds.), Frugality: Rebalancing material and spiritual values in economic life (pp. 207–226). Zürich: Peter Lang Publishing.

Deblonde, M. (2015). Responsible research and innovation: building knowledge arenas for glocal sustainability research. Journal of Responsible Innovation, 2(1), 20–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/23299460.2014.1001235

Eckersley, R. (1999). The discourse ethic and the problem of representing nature. Environmental Politics, 8(2), 24–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/09644019908414460

Etzioni, A. (2015). The Moral Effects of Economic Teaching. Sociological Forum, 30(1), 228-233. https://doi.org/10.1111/socf.12153

Foster, G. & Stagl, S. (2018). Design, implementation, and evaluation of an inverted (flipped) classroom model economics for sustainable education course. Journal of Cleaner Production, 183, 1323-1336. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.02.177

Friesen, N. (2012). Defining blended learning. https://www.normfriesen.info/papers/Defining_Blended_Learning_NF.pdf

Gibbs, P. (2007). Practical wisdom and the workplace researcher. London Review of Education, 5(3), 223–235. https://doi.org/10.1080/14748460701661278

Habermas, J. (1984). The theory of communicative action: Reason and the rationalisation of society (Vol. 1). Boston: Beacon.

Humphrey, C. (2009). By the light of the Tao. European Journal of Social Work, 12(3), 377-390. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691450902930779

International Call for Pluralism in Economics by the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics (2014). http://www.isipe.net/open-letter

Karner, S., Bajmócy Z., Deblonde M., Balázs B., Pataki Gy., Racovita, M., Snick, A., Thaler A. & Wicher, M. (2016). RRI concepts, practices, barriers and potential levers. FoTRRIS Deliverable D1.1. http://fotrris-h2020.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/FoTRRIS-D1.1_ v3_01112016.pdf

Kerkhof, M. Van De & Wieczorek, A. (2005). Learning and stakeholder participation in transition processes towards sustainability: Methodological considerations. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 72(6), 733–747. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2004.10.002

Kolb, A. & Kolb, D. (2005). Learning Styles and Learning Spaces: Enhancing Experiential Learning in Higher Education. Academy of Management Learning & Education. 4(2), 193-212. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2005.17268566

Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. New York: Prentice Hall.

Lányi, A. & Kajner, P. (eds.) (2019). A Fenntarthatóság Témaköre a Felsőoktatásban. Budapest: UNESCO Magyar Nemzeti Bizottság.

Meadows, D. (1999). Leverage points: Places to intervene in a system. Lynedoch: The Sustainability Institute.

Mezirow, J. (1989). Transformation theory and social action: A response to Collard and Law. Adult Education Quarterly, 39(3), 169–175. https://doi.org/10.1177/0001848189039003005

Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74, 5–12. https://doi.org/10.1002/ace.7401

Mezirow, J. (2003). Transformative learning as discourse. Journal of Transformative Education, 1(1), 58–63. https://doi.org/10.1177/1541344603252172

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A.M. & Saldana, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Moore, J (2005). Is higher education ready for transformative learning? A question explored in the study of sustainability. Journal of Transformative Education, 3(1), 76-91. https://doi.org/10.1177/1541344604270862

Nelson, R.H. (2014). Economics as religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and beyond. Philadelphia: The Pennsylvania University Press.

O’Neill, D. W., Fanning, A. L., Lamb, W. F. & Steinberger, J. K. (2018). A good life for all within planetary boundaries. Nature Sustainability, 1, 88–95. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-018-0021-4

Ormrod, J. E. (2011). Human learning. Boston: Pearson. Owen, R.; Macnaghten, P. & Stilgoe, J. (2012). Responsible research and innovation: From science in society to science for society, with society’. Science and Public Policy, 39(6), 751–760. https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scs093

Renn, O., Webler, T. & Wiedemann P. (eds.) (1995). Fairness and competence in citizen participation: Evaluating models for environmental discourse. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-011-0131-8

Rethinking Economics and the New Weather Institute (2018). 33 Theses for an Economics Reformation. http://www.newweather.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/33-Theses-for-an-Economics-Reformation.pdf

Schomberg, von R. (2013). A vision of responsible research and innovation. In Owen, R., Bessant, J. & Heintz, M. (eds.). Responsible innovation: Managing the responsible emergence of science and innovation in society (pp. 51-75). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118551424.ch3

Sipos, Y., Battisti, B. & Grimm, K. (2008). Achieving transformative sustainability learning: engaging head, hands and heart. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 9(1), 68-86. https://doi.org/10.1108/14676370810842193

Steffen, W., Rockström, J., Richardson, K., Lenton, T. M., Folke, C., Liverman, D., Summerhayes, C. P., Barnosky, A. D., Cornell, S. E., Crucifix, M., Donges, J. F., Fetzer, I., Lade, S. J., Scheffer, M., Winkelmann, R. & Schellnhuber, H. J. (2018). Trajectories of the earth system in the Anthropocene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(33), 8252–8259. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810141115

Stilgoe, J., Owen, R. & Macnaghten, P. (2013). Developing a framework for responsible innovation, Research Policy, 42(9), 1568–1580. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2013.05.008

Strange, H. & Gibson, H. (2017). An investigation of experiential and transformative learning in study abroad programs. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 29(1), 85-100. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1141587

Syse, K. L. & Mueller, M. L. (eds.) (2014). Sustainable Consumption and the Good Life. London: Routledge.

UNESCO (2014). Shaping the future we want: UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development; final report. Geneva: UNESCO. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000230171

Voss, J-P., Smith, A., & Grin, J. (2009). Designing longterm policy: rethinking transition management. Policy Sciences, 42(4), 275–302. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11077-009-9103-5

Wang, L., Malhorta, D., & Murnighan, J. K. (2011). Economics education and greed. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10(4), 643–660. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2009.0185




How to Cite

Kiss, G., Veress, T., & Köves, A. (2021). Learning Responsibility - Teaching Sustainability: Experiential and Transformative Learning in a Business School. Vezetéstudomány / Budapest Management Review, 51(7), 18–29. https://doi.org/10.14267/VEZTUD.2021.07.03