Our tidbits this week considers how to effectively teach sustainability in the classroom and whether mobile apps can help.

Teaching the premises of sustainable development in the classroom 
The systemic complexity of sustainable development imposes a major cognitive challenge to students’ learning. Faculty can explore new approaches in the classroom to teach the topic successfully, including the use of technology. The authors conducted an experiment to compare the effectiveness of a simulation vis-à-vis a case-based method to teach sustainable development.

The authors found that both pedagogical methods are effective for teaching this concept, although the results support the idea that simulations are slightly more effective than case studies, particularly to teach its multidimensional and inter-temporal nature. Therefore, the findings suggest the use of both simulations and case studies as pedagogical tools to convey the main ideas associated with sustainable development.

Andrea M. Prado, Ronald Arce, Luis E. Lopez, Jaime García and Andy A. Pearson. 2020. Simulations Versus Case Studies: Effectively Teaching the Premises of Sustainable Development in the Classroom. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 161(2), 303–327.


How sustainability centres integrate sustainability within business schools 
For nearly as long as the topic of sustainable business has been taught and researched in business schools, proponents have warned about barriers to genuine integration in business school practices.

This article examines how academic sustainability centres try to overcome barriers to integration by achieving technical, cultural and political fit with their environment (Ansari et al., Academy of Management Review 35(1):67–92, 2010). Based on survey and interview data, the authors theorise that technical, cultural and political fit are intricately related, and that these interrelations involve legitimacy, resources and collaboration effects.

The findings about sustainability centres offer novel insights on integrating sustainable business education given the interrelated nature of different types of fit and misfit. The authors further contribute to the literature on fit by highlighting that incompatibility between strategies to achieve different types of fit may act as a source of dynamism.

Read this Open Access article online for free



Rieneke Slager, Sareh Pouryousefi, Jeremy Moon and Ethan D. Schoolman. 2020. Sustainability Centres and Fit: How Centres Work to Integrate Sustainability Within Business Schools.  
Journal of Business Ethics, 161(2), 375–391.


Using mobile apps in learning as translation(s) 
Competence to enact responsible practices, such as recycling waste or boycotting irresponsible companies, is core to learning for responsibility. The authors explore the role of apps in learning such responsible practices ‘in the wild,’ outside formal educational environments over a 3-week period.

Learners maintained a daily diary in which they reflected on their learning of responsible practices with apps. Through a thematic analysis of 557 app mentions in the diaries, the authors identified five types of app-agency: cognitive, action, interpersonal, personal development, and material.

Findings were interpreted from an actor-network perspective using the lens of ‘translation.’ To understand how apps enabled the learning of responsible practices, the authors analysed app agency throughout four moments of translation: problematisation, interessement, enrolment, and mobilisation.

Based on the analysis of how students’ app mentions changed over time, the authors further theorise learning as a sequence of subtranslations that form the larger translation process: learning as translation(s). Each subtranslation cycle is centred on enrolling a different set of human and nonhuman actors, with their competence, into the network.

The authors contribute to the learning for responsibility field by showcasing how app-enabled learning may create real-life actor networks enacting responsibility, and by priming an actor-network pedagogy for ‘learning in the wild.’ The authors also contribute to the actor-network learning discussion by conceptualising heterogeneous human–nonhuman competence and the first processual model of learning as translation(s).

Oliver Laasch, Dirk C. Moosmayer and Frithjof Arp. 2020. Responsible Practices in the Wild: An Actor-Network Perspective on Mobile Apps in Learning as Translation(s).
Journal of Business Ethics, 161(2), 253–277.


Learning about health impacts through engagement with air quality information 
Air pollution is one of the largest environmental health risks globally but is often imperceptible to people. Air quality smartphone applications (commonly called apps) provide real-time localised air quality information and have the potential to help people learn about the health effects of air pollution and enable them to take action to protect their health.

Hundreds of air quality apps are now available; however, there is scant information on how effective these mobile apps are at educating stakeholders about air pollution and promoting behavioural change to protect their health. In this paper, the authors test how intrinsic and extrinsic motivations can enhance users’ engagement with air quality information through an app, and favour changes in protective behaviour.

The authors developed an air quality app, AirForU, with a built-in research study that was downloaded by 2740 users. The authors found that engagement was higher for users with intrinsic motivations, such as those who are health conscious, either because they are suffering from heart disease or other conditions aggravated by air pollution, or because they exercise frequently and want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Extrinsic motivations such as notifications were also effective.

App users stated that they frequently shared air quality information with others, learned about the Air Quality Index (AQI), and took measures to protect their health while using AirForU app.

Magali A. Delmas and Aanchal Kohli. 2020. Can Apps Make Air Pollution Visible? Learning About Health Impacts Through Engagement with Air Quality Information. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 161(2), 279–302.