Integrating sustainability into higher education curriculum through a transdisciplinary perspective
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Higher education institutions are among the most influential elements of implementing concepts of sustainability and sustainable development. Manufacturing industries of all sorts are key stakeholders, which rely on universities to satisfy the demand for competent workforce. Society also expects universities to educate our youth and contribute to their self-development by achieving both, scientific and intellectual knowledge saturation. Among all these missions, today, universities are trying to develop sustainability curriculums to further increase sustainability awareness and to provide undergraduate students with a toolkit that would provide them with a competitive advantage in the job market. Developing such a curriculum would only be possible with a transdisciplinary approach. Therefore, the objective of this study was to contribute to strategic alignment of higher education institutions and corporate organizations by developing a course curriculum that integrates modern management techniques and sustainability concepts with wood products industry dynamics, which also focuses on project based learning (PBL). Theories of sustainability, lean management, supply chain management, six-sigma, and life cycle analysis were reinforced with hands-on activities of value-added wood product manufacturing line during a 16-weeks course. Students' pre- and post-education awareness of and familiarity with sustainability, potential consequences of ignored sustainability issues, modern management techniques, global trends, innovation waves, and industry evolution were compared through a seventeen-question survey. Results showed that proposed course content was successful at increasing sustainability awareness at both overall and individual sustainability pillar levels. At the end, 100% of students were able to develop complete understanding of various modern management techniques and stated that they feel confident to apply learnt skills to real life issues within their profession upon graduation. The outcomes of the study could serve as a guide for those looking to develop similar interor trans-disciplinary courses at higher education institutions. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.