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Teaching Ethics

Volume 16, Issue 2, Fall 2016

Mary Jane Parmentier, Sharlissa Moore
Pages 207-221

‘The Camels are Unsustainable’
Using Study Abroad as a Pedagogical Tool for Teaching Ethics and Sustainable Development

Sustainable development (SD) has contested meanings, and perspectives vary within and across societies. Emphases can range dramatically from recycling advocacy to eradication of poverty. Assumptions and approaches to sustainable development inherently contain many ethical considerations, yet U.S. students often have a limited understanding of ethical considerations in non-Western and global contexts. This paper describes an academic program on sustainable development we ran to Morocco and Spain. We describe the program’s pedagogy and assess learning related to ethics. The largest impact on students’ awareness of ethics resulted from their observations and experiences with socioeconomic inequities and unequal access to infrastructure. However, without explicitly teaching ethical frameworks to sustainability students, they tend to equate sustainability with morality, imputing their own normative presuppositions of right versus wrong onto the concept of sustainable development. Therefore, we conclude with a discussion on how ethics could be more systematically integrated into education for sustainable development abroad.

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