Research Proposal Sustainability in Hospitality Education * A Case Study – Supervisor: David Proctor Stenden Hogeschool International Hotel Management Leeuwarden The Netherlands 2011 Fei Fei Wang & Anjani de Graaf Stenden University of Applied Scienes, Leeuwarden 20-Jan-‘ 12 Declaration of personal work 1. This work is composed by us. 2. This work has not been accepted in any previous application for a degree or diploma, by me or anyone else. 3. The work of which this is a record is done wholly by us. . All verbatim extracts have been distinguished by quotation marks and the sources of our information have been specifically acknowledged. Date: Signatures: Anjani de Graaf ………………………………………. Feifei Wang ………………………………………. Abstract The purpose of this study is to discover to what extent sustainability education is implemented in the hospitality industry practical perspective. The knowledge of reviewing and digging is significant to students who desire to develop in their future career in terms of sustainability.
This is especially in different aspects such as environments, social, and economics. Moreover, there is a significant relevance since sustainability in these three aspects is a trend in the hospitality industry and other industries. In the meanwhile, this study also aims to search a real linkage with learning and understanding in theory as well as in practice. Continuing, the study aims to examine and assist students (IHM) to make use of all knowledge that has been shared in the curriculum.
To create an own project by implementing all knowledge, is an additional importance of the study. One must bear in mind that the following case study is applied to a single hospitality educational institution, thus the results are not representative for other institutions, however similar they may seem. KEY WORDS: Sustainability education, sustainability concepts & practices, sustainability knowledge, IHM, Hospitality industry, Corporate Social Responsibility, Triple Bottom Line. Table of Contents Abstract2
Introduction4 Background of the study4 Rationale – The purpose of the study5 Objective of Research Project5 The assumption and limitations of the study6 Conceptual Model6 Literature Review8 Sustainability concepts – from theory to practice8 Relevant sustainability concepts – Triple Bottom Line (TBL)9 Sustainability curriculum within hospitality education – teaching and learning11 Relevancy of sustainability in the hospitality industry12 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)12 Sustainability development13 Methodology14
Bibliography16 List of abbreviations17 Planning18 Introduction The article is structured as follows with Stenden University of Applied Science at the center of this case study: First, the background, purpose, objective and limitations of the study are given. This will be followed by a literature review in which one is familiarized with the main theoretical perspectives. Next, the methodology gives a description of the methods used to conduct the study; it is an aspect that is connected to the actual research and the findings.
Then comes the data collection which will be described in detail after which interpretations are done, conclusions can be drawn and recommendations for further research can be given. Background of the study Sustainability has emerged as a result of significant concerns about the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of rapid population growth, economic growth and consumption of our natural resources. Compared to other industries, hospitality is lagging behind in the commitment to sustainability (Barber, Deale, & Goodman, 2011; Tzschentke, 2004).
It is essential that hospitality students are encouraged to understand the importance of sustainability education which is given in the hospitality curriculum; as well as applying it in to practices in the hospitality industry. Research has shown that in the United States the topic of sustainability does not receive much attention in hospitality management programs (Barber et al. , 2011). Furthermore, in the history of hospitality and tourism management, it has not necessarily been considered that companies in this industry were major contributors to the environmental sustainability of the world (Deale, Nichols, & Jacques, 2009).
This all brings us to Stenden University of Applied Science, The Netherlands, where International Hospitality Management (IHM) students receive sustainability education and have the opportunity to apply it in practice. Rationale – The purpose of the study In this case study students of Stenden University of Applied Science will be studied to determine the extent to which they perceive to understand the content been taught with regard to sustainability; the content of education in which concepts, topics, and practices of sustainability are included.
Furthermore, this case study engages in the aim of contributing to a better understanding of the knowledge and attitude of sustainability that IHM students already have, or should have during their study program in order to enhance their consciousness for implementing sustainability in the hospitality industry. Sustainability can be considered as the balanced collaboration between populations reaching to express its full potential without negatively disturbing the carrying capability that it depends on (Ben-Eli, 2009). Thus, sustainability becomes a fundamental part of education due to its long term value.
It is a trend that an increasing amount of establishments in the hospitality industry claim to “ be green”, which means that the critical perspectives of sustainability are still essential for IHM students. Additionally, to be proactive, hospitality managers need a vision of what is meant by a sustainable business and how to develop a sustainable business. A truly sustainable business is difficult to define, but includes the idea of three important aspects, which are environmental, economic, and social (Barber et al. , 2011).
Nevertheless, all the information is gathered from the education, which is a process of receiving the knowledge, understanding the knowledge, and putting the knowledge into practice. Objective of Research Project After completion of the study, one will be able to answer the following problem statement: From the students’ perspective: how applicable is the sustainability education given at Stenden University of Applied Science in practice and in theory? – A case study In order to answer this question the following specific research questions are posed: What is the content of sustainability education (concepts, topics & practices) in the hospitality curriculum of Stenden University of Applied Science? * What sustainability concepts and practices within the hospitality curriculum, are truly understood by students? * Are the methods of teaching and assessing these sustainability concepts effective, in order for students to understand their importance? * Do students working in hospitality establishments with sustainability practices apply the knowledge gained from the sustainability education given?
The assumption and limitations of the study The assumption of the study is that IHM students are not able to put sustainability theory into practice appropriately when working in the hospitality industry. The findings will be analysed to estimate whether the assumption is correct or not. There is a variety of factors that potentially influence sustainability education in the hospitality industry. This study is a case study that only focuses on IHM students of Stenden University of Applied Science.
However specific and useful the results may be, they might not apply for other educational institutions within the hospitality industry. Although they could suggest a similar study in order to determine the potential need for improvement in the sustainability education given. Conceptual Model The core concept is sustainability, which is taught in the hospitality education curriculum. There are three levels in this curriculum. Firstly, the conceptual level, followed by policy level, then skills and competence level. There are two critical perspectives in hospitality education.
These are defined as Education for Sustainable Development and Education for Sustainability. Additionally, sustainability is directly related to Triple Bottom Line (TBL) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). To be more specific, TBL includes people, profit, and planet, which immediately influences performance of the hospitality industry. CSR is a program that focuses on environment, resource, safety & health, and working with local communities. The mentioned concepts will be elaborated on in the literature review. Literature Review Sustainability concepts – from theory to practice
Nowadays sustainability concepts meet with general acceptance worldwide and are developed and implemented for a wide range of hospitality industry establishments. Sustainability concepts such as benchmarking practices, sustainable tourism development and focused initiatives to integrate a culture of sustainability are taking place in hospitality education (Deale et al. , 2009). To be specific, environmental sustainability was taught most frequently, followed by sustainable tourism design and construction, waste management, economic sustainability, and cultural preservation and sustainability.
These concepts are relevant and effective to sustainability education in the hospitality industry. Amongst the first academics to discuss the relationship between hospitality industry and sustainable development were Mathieson and Wall (1982) who emphasized the diverse environmental, economic and social structures. Henry (1995) suggested that sustainable hospitality education should be considered in the curriculum, which has three levels. The first is the conceptual level; such as political values, eco-philosophy, and social and cultural theory, economic theory, and management theory.
The next is policy level; this identifies indigenous cultural strengths, such as ecological policy, cultural development, economic development and managerial policy. The skills and/or competencies could be considered as the third level, which contain environmental and cultural interpretation. However, depending on Kohn (1999), sustainability concepts can be defined variously as maintaining intergenerational welfare; maintaining the existence of the human species; sustaining the productivity of economic systems, maintaining biodiversity, and maintaining evolutionary potential.
These various meanings lead a wide range of sometimes conflicting policy proposals, which may or may not contribute to sustainability. Furthermore, there are two aspects of programs that relate to sustainability in hospitality education. These are education for sustainability (EFS) programs, and education for sustainable development (ESD) (McKeown, 2002). The ESD is used more often than the EFS, due to the terminology used frequently at international level.
The main difference between EFS and ESD is that EFS focuses on the better understanding of the sustainability programs, while ESD is more concerned with creating awareness for the world to be more liveable and for future generations. Relevant sustainability concepts – Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Triple bottom line accounting means expanding the traditional reporting framework to take into account ecological and social performance in addition to financial performance (Elkington, 2011; Jonker, 2010). John Elkington coined the phrase in 1994: “ the Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business. ”
The concepts of TBL demand that a company’s responsibility be to stakeholders rather than shareholders (Elkington, 2011). “ Stakeholders” refers to anyone who is influenced, either directly or indirectly, by the actions of a firm. According to the stakeholder theory, the business entity should be used as a vehicle for coordinating stakeholder interests, instead of maximizing shareholder (owner) profit. Stakeholders are “ people, planet and profit”. “ People” (human capital) pertains to fair and beneficial business practices toward labour, the community and region in which a corporation conducts its business.
A TBL company conceives a reciprocal social structure in which the well-being of corporate, labour and other stakeholder interests are interdependent (Elkington, 2011; Jonker, 2010). A triple bottom line enterprise seeks to benefit many publics, not exploit or endanger any group of them. A TBL business also typically seeks to “ give back” by contributing to the strength and growth of its community with such things as health care and education. Quantifying this bottom line is relatively new, problematic and often subjective. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an economic sustainability promoting non-profit organization.
A comprehensive sustainability reporting framework is provided to companies and organizations, and is used extensively around the world (Global Reporting Initiative, 2011). The GRI has developed guidelines to enable corporations to comparably report on the social impact of a business. “ Planet” (natural capital) refers to sustainable environmental practices. A TBL effort reduces its ecological footprint by, among other things, carefully managing its consumption of energy and non-renewable resources and reducing manufacturing waste as well as rendering waste less toxic before disposing of it in a safe and legal manner.
A TBL firm does not produce harmful or destructive products such as weapons, toxic chemicals or batteries containing dangerous heavy metals. Currently, the cost of disposing of non-degradable or toxic products is tolerated financially by governments and environmentally by the residents near the disposal site and elsewhere. In TBL thinking, an enterprise that produces and markets a product that will create a waste problem should not be given a free ride by society. It would be more equitable for the business that manufactures and sells a problematic product to bear part of the cost of its ultimate disposal.
Generally, sustainability reporting metrics are better quantified and standardized for environmental issues than for social ones (Elkington, 2011; Jonker, 2010). “ Profit” is the bottom line shared by all commerce, conscientious or not. In the original concept, within a sustainability framework, the “ profit” aspect needs to be seen as the economic benefit enjoyed by the host society. It is the lasting economic impact the organization has on its economic environment. This is often confused to be limited to the internal profit made by a company or organization.
Therefore, a TBL approach cannot be interpreted as traditional corporate accounting plus social and environmental impact (Elkington, 2011; Jonker, 2010). Sustainability curriculum within hospitality education – teaching and learning The dynamic and changing picture with many academic staff recognizing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is an important component for the development of their respective subjects, and by inference what is taught and how (Dawe, Jucker, & Martin, 2005). Based on Dawe et al. 2005), some specific outlines which related to sustainable curriculum within hospitality education can be analyzed as follows: * Accounting: a more critical approach can also be adopted, in this way students begin to understand why business activity may be casing greater environmental and social impacts within the hospitality industry, and it then becomes important to review the alternatives to current practices. * Art, design, and performing arts: hospitality students were asked to devise a model to enable others to understand complex environmental inter linkages through the medium of art. Built environment: the aim of the course was to give students the ability to see relationships within the subject areas earned and to perceive his / her field in a broader perspective. * Engineering: the modules and materials for teaching sustainability to engineering students must include not only technological analysis and economic evaluation, but also environmental and social considerations related to hospitality industry. * Generic: this is includes an orientation towards systems and problem solving, as well as communication and values and participation for student’s practicing in hospitality industry.
Furthermore, Barber et al. (2011) suggests that the impact of the global hospitality industry on the environment should be understood and controlled because of the quick expansion of services. There is an increasing amount of hospitality establishments that have come to the realization that there are economic and social advantages to the development of a sustainable curriculum (Barber et al. , 2011). For Stenden University of Applied Science these advantages are obtained through the organization Green key and by gaining the ISO certificate (Stenden University Hotel, 2011).
Relevancy of sustainability in the hospitality industry Nowadays, sustainable practices are considered increasingly important in the hospitality and tourism industry. A few of the reasons for this are the changes in responsibilities, increasing costs and the increasing demand for “ green” by customers (Deale et al. , 2009). Deale et al. (2009) also indicates that in the past, leaders in the hospitality industry did not consider themselves to be important contributors to the dilapidation of the environment.
This was while the operations of establishments in many destination areas (especially luxury properties) had a considerable negative impact on the environment. That is why the concern for sustainability had started to increase through the years. When looking further at the relevancy of sustainability in the hospitality industry, one should consider the size of contribution that the service industry has in the total economy. Furthermore, in most industrialized countries more than 70% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is contributed to by the service industries (Barber et al. 2011). This all suggests that the hospitality industry plays an important and unique role in two ways. First, it may be a cause of environmental damage. However, fortunately due to its large contribution in the economy, the hospitality industry could also serve as a possible instrument and leader in the reduction of negative environmental impacts (Barber et al. , 2011; Salzman, 2000). Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) In 1980, Thomas M. Jones entered the CSR discussion with an interesting perspective.
First, he defined CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility is the notion that corporations have an obligation to constituent groups in society other than stockholders and beyond that prescribed by law and union contract (Carroll, 1999). Two facts of this definition are critical. First, the obligation must be voluntarily adopted: behaviour influenced by the coercive forces of law or union contract is not voluntary. Second, the obligation is a broad one, extending beyond the traditional duty to shareholders to other societal groups such as customers, employees, suppliers, and neighbouring communities.
However, in 1991, Carroll gave a new definition of CSR. It defined that if CSR can be accepted by the conscientious business person, it should be framed in such a way that the entire range of business responsibilities is embraced (Carroll, 1999). It is suggested here that four kinds of social responsibilities constitute total CSR: economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic. Furthermore, these four categories or components of CSR might be depicted as a pyramid (Carroll, 1999). To be sure, all of these kinds of responsibilities have always existed to some extent, but it has only been in recent years that ethical and philanthropic functions have aken a significant place. The program that is used for the hospitality industry can be analysed more specifically. According to the module Performing Daily Operations of IHM in Stenden University of Applied Science, the concepts of CSR are put more in depth in hotel perspectives, which contains four components (Operations & Performing Daily Operations, 2007). The first is environmental policy that focuses on green initiatives, green policies, monitoring and reducing consumption levels and converting environmental efforts into cost-reduction and revenue generating opportunities.
The second component is resources; hotel operations are intended to reduce the use of water and materials through awareness programs and through the design of new buildings, equipment and better working practices. As to the third aspect, it concerns working with local communities; hotels committed to working with its local communities, to build strong relationships and to encourage partnerships with local business and industry. And last but not the least; the health and safety component. Hotels continue to apply high standards of health and safety to all employees and customers.
The company strives to provide a safe environment. Sustainability development Sustainability development is that which “ meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. ” (Konh, 1999). Based on Kohn (2000), designing a theoretical quantitative framework from which to predict some of the consequences of various technological and / or policy changes is a critical goal for sustainability development. It is a process of building scenarios for particular geographical and societal contexts and the testing them in the uncertainty real world.
Methodology Case study methodology is a common and appropriate research method that is used in studies of sustainability in higher education. This is according to the researcher’s purpose in conducting the case study (Wals, 2004). Additionally, there are two methods that relate to data for the study. One is data collecting methods, and the other is data analysis methods. For this research a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection methods will be used, also referred to as mixed methods (Heath, 2010).
To be specific, search archives, interviews and questionnaire surveys of IHM students and sustainability educators will be used for collecting data. Primary data will be collected through surveys aimed at IHM students. According to instructions given by Stenden (Stenden University of Applied Sciences, 2011) “ a survey is collecting data from a given sample of a population (50<-> 1000) or more by means of questionnaire”. Here from, the population is confirmed to be IHM students, of which the sample will be a minimum of 100 students questioned.
These will be students from different study years (1 to 3) and from different modules. This is to identify the students’ perspectives and to discover their level of understanding of the sustainability curriculum. One will also learn the extent to which students are capable to translate the sustainability theory into practice. Since the study is of a particular case, namely Stenden University of Applied Science, the sample can be considered representative. It must be noted that the results of this study are not representative for the entire hospitality education industry.
All this quantitative data will be descriptively analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Search archives from information systems will be used to discover the sustainability-related contents, which include topics, concepts and practices taught to IHM students of the Stenden University of Applied Science. This type of secondary research is referred to as desk research and will be obtained from documented sustainability-related curricula (Stenden University of Applied Sciences, 2011).
Further data will be collected from sustainability educators at Stenden University of Applied Science. This will enable the authors to obtain information about the teaching methods and sustainability concepts that the educators intend to bring across to the students. This information will be obtained through the conducting of interviews, which is a qualitative research method (Stenden University of Applied Sciences, 2011). There will be approximately three educators interviewed, which will be the ones most involved in the sustainability education at Stenden University of Applied Science.
Obtained results, from primary and secondary research, will be compared with the concepts that are considered to be relevant to be used in sustainability education in the hospitality industry (Deale et al. , 2009). The above mentioned methods have been selected due to similarities in research by Deale et al. (2009) and Barber et al. (2011). Both studies display research findings in the topic of sustainability education in the hospitality management curriculum. Moreover, they discuss the extent to which concepts and topics are taught, understood and applied.
Since both articles reported case studies, one can further confirm the similarity in necessary methods to be applied for research (Deale et al. , 2009; Barber et al. , 2011). Bibliography Barber, N. , Deale, C. , & Goodman, R. (2011). Environmental Sustainability in the Hospitality Management Curriculum: Perspectives from Three Groups of Stakeholders. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 23(1), 6-17. Ben-Eli, M. (2009). Sustainability: The five core principles. The Sustainability Laboratories, 1-8. Busby, G. (2000). The Concept of Sustainable Tourism within the Higher Education Curriculum; A British Case Study.
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