Academic and discipline identities as obstacles to engaging with education for sustainability: Lessons from law and social work

Peter Jones, Kathrine Galloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Despite significant advances in many areas of higher education, some professional domains remain reluctant
or even resistant to incorporating education for sustainability into core curriculum. Social work and law are two areas
where some progress is discernable, but where the pace of change appears glacial, particularly when considered in the
context of the urgency suggested by the worsening environmental crisis. One explanation for this reluctance may be
found in an understanding of the nature of academic and professional identity, and the ways in which such identities may
act as conservative and restrictive barriers to change. In this paper, the authors describe the current state of education
for sustainability in professional social work and legal education. The concepts of academic and professional identity are
then explored and identified as possible sources of resistance to the integration of sustainability into core curriculum.
Academic and professional identities are understood as strongly held yet often “invisible” belief systems which may have
a significant impact on the nature of higher education. Suggestions are made for ways in which such identity-based
resistance may be addressed and overcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


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