Beginnjahr 2008 Abschlussjahr 2012


durchführende Institutionen übergeordnete Institutionen


Ländercode Österreich Sprachcode
Schlagwörter DeutschBildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung, Nachhaltigkeitskompetenzen, AbsolventInnenstudie, Umweltsystemwissenschaften, Arbeitsmarktrelevanz
Schlagwörter Englischgraduate competencies, sustainable development, graduate employment, employability, environmental systems science

Against the background of the global crisis, sustainable development is an important driving force of the economy. To improve occupational opportunities university graduates need key competencies that enable them to contribute to sustainable development. Those competencies are the central part of the specific competencies of Environmental Systems Science graduates. The studies of Environmental Systems Science were founded in 1991 at the University of Graz. According to the qualification profile, students complement their in-depth professional training in the fields of Economics, Business Administration, Physics, Chemistry, and Geography with additional qualifications especially in the field of education for sustainable development. The aim is to generate interdisciplinary qualified academics, which are able to use the knowledge from more than just the own discipline, to consider problems as a whole and then handle and solve them in a systemic thinking way.

This paper deals with how the studies of Environmental Systems Science encourage students to obtain skills for sustainable development. The aim is to identify which competencies the studies foster and how they are evaluated by (i) the graduates and (ii) the employers in order to demonstrate the relevance of Environmental Systems Science for the labour market. I give a brief discussion on the theoretical approaches of competencies that enable individuals to contribute to sustainable development, the characteristics of graduate surveys, and the general situation of the demand for graduates in the field of environmental studies. The empirical design of the study can be described as follows: A “reality check” is carried out with a survey addressing both, graduates and employers. The focus is to investigate how useful the acquired competencies described in the qualification profile are compared to the needs of graduates in their fields of work.

The sample included two groups: (i) the whole number of graduates of the studies of Environmental Systems Science from 1992 until 2010, and (ii) 10 representatives of employers respectively human resource managers. The first group represented a quantitative survey of 874 graduates, 424 women and 450 men. An internet based questionnaire was used to collect data, that sought information about: socio-biographic background; course of study up to graduation; the transition to employment and career beginning; current employment situation, work assignment and links between study and work; competencies and job requirements; study orientations and job satisfaction; regional and international mobility. The second group was investigated via a qualitative study, including 10 employers of NGOs, public services and companies dealing with environmental issues. Based on a comparison of graduates and employers' expectations and experiences, that represent the practitioners’ perspective, essential needs to improve employability of graduates can be identified. Graduates’ employability is evaluated from the perspective of practitioners and human resource managers. As a result of this, the following skill needs and demands for graduates are identified: systems thinking, handling of complexity, anticipatory thinking, critical thinking, communication skills and interdisciplinary working. Those key competencies that enable individuals to contribute to sustainable development give graduates a competitive edge on today’s labour market. Results also reveal if and how graduates bring sustainable development into their working environment.

ErgebnisseTo conclude, I would like to point out that the University has to concern itself with the scientific educational background which is provided to their graduates. As an important aspect a curriculum should contain as many qualifications as possible that are applicable in the graduates’ everyday working lives. Employability is an important decision criterion for students and their choice of academic study. Furthermore employability is also an important deciding factor for employers’ choices in hiring. The results of this study will feed into the strategic planning and will help to develop the curricula in the field of Environmental Systems Science at the University of Graz.
Publikationen (+ link zum OBV)
  • Von der Hellen, C. (2010): The Relevance of Systems Science Competence in Professional Life. In: Trappl, R. (Ed.): Cybernetics and Systems 2010, Proceedings of the 20th European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research, April 6 - 9, 2010, Vienna.
    Link zum Bibliotheken Verbund
  • Von der Hellen, C. (2010): Kompetenz als Qualifizierungsinstrument für AbsolventInnen der Umweltsystemwissenschaften. In: Schröttner, B.; Hofer, C. (Eds.), Education - Competence - Globalization, Grazer Universitätsverlag, Graz.
    Link zum Bibliotheken Verbund
Hauptkategorie(n)Lehren und Lernen (Prozesse und Methoden)
Bildungsinhalt (Themenfeld)
Soziales Umfeld (Gesellschaft, Kultur, Sprache und Religion)
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