Sustainability and cleaner production is the current mantra for the world. Initiatives to implement sustainable concepts are currently the focus and reported in every industry/manufacturing sector. However, no matter the field the sustainable discourse occurs in education which is the key to support the underlying principles to develop these initiatives. Well-prepared future professionals should have a holistic perspective on sustainability that builds on their current knowledge in understanding sustainable production. Despite the omnipresence of the word sustainability, many students in universities are not yet aware of the understanding and meaning of sustainability while entering a qualification.
There is an increased awareness of global problems and on how humans, their actions, behaviour and lifestyles are harming the environment (Abdul-Wahab, 2008; Sia Su, 2008). University students typically belong to Gen Z, a generation that is defined by birth years between 1995 and 2015 and are said to be more focused on sustainable issues than the previous generations. For instance, in 2007, Muhlenberg College’s students published a sustainable living guide with a focus on recycling, reduction in energy consumption, green cleaning products, etc. (June 2007). There has been evidence (Stubbs & Cocklin, 2007) where students are being taught skills to start their own sustainable business. It appears that Gen Z is the most dynamic and the most willing to take action and bring positive changes in their environment and the world they live in than the generations before.
Aim of the research
The aim of this study is to undertake research between two South African universities, located in Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively. The underlying concept is to design a comprehensive curriculum focused in the Clothing and Textile discipline for incorporation into the university undergraduate programme. Initially by assessing student’s knowledge and understanding of cleaner production and sustainable production principles and thereafter to incorporate this into the existing literature for teaching and learning.
The researchers initially discussed various ideas and approaches to the data collection however, the current COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to liaise effectively. Therefore, the approach of this study was to develop a brief questionnaire and a consent form for online data collection. The questionnaire will be administered to around 200 students from both the universities and then to conclude on the outcomes. The qualitative responses will be captured and categorized firstly at an institutional level grouped into either a semestrised or yearly module and thereafter compared between the two university student responses for similarities and differences. The intension is to obtain detailed feedback from students on how they see sustainability within the clothing and textile sector towards the development of a teaching module on sustainably.
Currently, the results of the student’s feedback is unknown. However, the researchers believe that Gen Z is more technology and environmentally aware. Therefore, the results of the analysed questionnaire will yield valuable and insightful data/information for the design and development of a module on cleaner production/sustainability in the clothing and textiles discipline.
Abdul-Wahab, S. A. (2008). A preliminary investigation into the environmental awareness of the Omani public and their willingness to protect the environment. American Journal of Environmental Sciences, 4(1), 39-49.
June, A. W. (2007, July 20). Muhlenberg College students publish their own guide to sustainable living. (Muhlenberg College Guide to Sustainable Living)(Brief article). The Chronicle of Higher Education. (53)46.p.NA.Retrieved August 06, 2008 from http://find.galegroup.com/itx/infomark.do?&contentSet=IACDocuments&type=retrieve&tabID=T002&prodId=AONE&docId=A166535002 &source=gale&userGroupName=iastu_main&version=1.0
Sia Su, G. L. (2008). Environmental worldview and concern of college students in the Philippines. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 9(1), 39-47.
Stubbs, W. and Cocklin, C. Teaching Sustainability to Business Students: changing mindsets. (2007). International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 9 (3), 206-221.