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Perceptions of sustainability within the English Further Education sector

Allison, Georgiana Gillian (2016) Perceptions of sustainability within the English Further Education sector. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This study investigates the relationship between college leader’s perceptions of sustainability and sustainable development in the English Further Education (FE) sector, and the nature of its practice within individual colleges and the sector as a whole. Previous research investigating perceptions and practice of sustainability within education has almost exclusively focussed on Higher Education (HE) institutions, with much research also focussing on describing institutional progress without investigating the facilitating leadership conditions. This study makes a unique contribution to knowledge by investigating a previously unexplored sector through the use of the Transition Management Framework as the study’s conceptual framework. A key outcome of this study is the adaptation of the Transition Management Framework that could be used by the sector and its leadership structure to facilitate a reassessment and reinvigoration of sustainability leadership within the sector. The research design is based on a Grounded Theory methodology that used semi-structured interviews and focus groups as the primary method of data collection, with content analysis of significant sector stakeholders’ websites and publications forming a secondary method of data collection. The first key finding of this research was that the relationship between how sustainability is conceptualised and how it is practised is weak, with perceptions often referring to two different interpretations, neither of which fully addresses the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development. Indeed, whilst perceptions focus on the environment, it is to this that the sector appears least accountable. This power pointing and a lack of accountability held by all levels of management within FE toward the environment was the study’s second key finding. Both of these findings are intrinsically linked to the third, which is that the Transition Management Framework’s focus on incremental change may sufficiently be able to change practices at a niche level, but unless operating within a more sustainable economic paradigm, the reach of incremental action may always be limited.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Further Education, Leadership, Transition Management
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds) > Sustainability Research Institute (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.714258
Depositing User: Mrs Georgiana Allison
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2017 11:08
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:55
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17271

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