Sustainability education in public administration and policy: A multi-method study of NASPAA accredited programs

This study examines the nature of sustainability education in public affairs programs. First, through web content analysis of NASPAA accredited MPA/MPP programs, and second through web survey of program directors, data were collected on perceptions about sustainability education and public administration, demand for sustainability education, sustainability related courses, pedagogical tools used, nature of collaborators that make sustainability education possible and factors that impede or enable the inclusion of sustainability education in these programs. When considered as a holistic concept without being broken down into its three componential parts, only 10% of all courses offered are on sustainability. Results show that a total of 164 programs (~94%) have listed courses in at least one of the three areas (economic, environmental and social) of sustainability. Programs vary in terms of whether they offer courses as core or electives. Thirty-five programs offered a dedicated concentration in environmental sustainability. Survey results indicate general agreement about synergies in sustainability education and PA education which should be formalized through curricular inclusion. However, only about 50% of survey respondents experienced demand for sustainability education. Programmatic, institutional and professional facilitators, and impediments to infusion of sustainability education in PA curricula are discussed.