Title of Work

Teaching Sustainability: Intentional Global Experiences

Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date


City of Publication or Presentation

London, UK

Conference Name

Sustainability in Fashion

Conference Location

Regents University, London UK


Teaching Sustainability: Intentional Global Experiences

Keywords: Sustainability, India, Study Abroad

Knowledge of sustainability and its impact on the fashion industry is fundamental to the success of future professionals in apparel design and retail merchandising. Sterling suggests that “Education as sustainability is the means through which we educate our citizenry to the values, opportunities, and choices each person has to develop one’s self as an aware, independent, responsible, and active agent of one’s own fate and hence contribute to the future of our society and ecological systems” (2001, p. 46). Fashion educators have a responsibility to prepare professionals to move away from just profit and performance centered approaches to a balance of the 3 P’s- economic, environmental and societal considerations (Landgren & Pasricha, 2011). Educating students in global thinking and sustainable development is at the core of every course at a small Midwestern university (Gage, Rand, & Nelsen, 2017; Pasricha, 2012; Landgren & Pasricha, 2011).

In January 2017, a short-term study abroad course was led to India with intentional sustainability infused experiences to develop these higher order critical thinking skills. This course was designed to give students exposure to sustainable practices across the apparel industry supply chain in India. Visits to designer showrooms, couture designer workshops, block-printing facilities, small-scale and large-scale factories, and various retail settings were set to engage the students in experiences to broaden their worldview, explore connections among social, cultural, and societal patterns, and strengthen understanding of their role as change agents in the fashion industry.

This research is an outcome of a mixed-method evaluation of student learning and growth in cultural competence, social and environmental sustainability, and global thinking in the fashion industry through an analysis of a variety of learning artifacts that includes structured assignments, post-trip questionnaires, self-journaling and reflection, and blog postings. The qualitative analysis provides themes in learning highlighting big ideas whereas quantitative assessment using AACU VALUE rubric illustrates student growth from a beginner to a frontrunner in sustainability and global thinking. The analysis showed positive shift in all areas, evidence that, if consciously constructed for such growth, short-term study trips are a viable and valuable opportunity for students to gain critical thinking skills related to the 3Ps of the Triple Bottom Line (people-planet-profit) defining sustainability.


Gage, K., Rand, S. & Nelson, J. (2017, April). Utilizing Bloom’s Taxonomy to Explore Sustainability and Critical Thinking in Fashion Retail Education. Paper presented at Marketing Educators Association Conference, San Diego, CA.

Landgren, T. & Pasricha, A. (2011). Transforming the fashion and apparel curriculum to incorporate sustainability, International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 4(3), 187-196.

Pasricha, A. (2012), Student expectations on content and pedagogy for sustainability within textiles and apparel curriculum, in W. L Filho (ed.), Sustainable Development at Universities: New Horizons, New York: Peter Lang Scientific Publishers.

Sterling, S. (2001). Sustainable education: Re-visioning learning and change. Cambridge, UK: UIT Cambridge Ltd.

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