COVID-19 and Higher Education: Evolving teaching and learning for sustainability - A new era or temporary response?




sustainability, sustainable development, higher education, technology, teaching, COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic catalysed unprecedented shifts in higher education worldwide, prompting a reevaluation of teaching and learning practices amidst the backdrop of sustainability imperatives. This editorial synthesizes diverse scholarly contributions exploring the intersectionality of COVID-19, sustainability, and higher education. Amidst ongoing global grappling for a "new normal," this special issue poses a central question: How has higher education responded to sustainability amid the pandemic? Reflecting on institutional responses, the collection illuminates both challenges and opportunities in fostering sustainable futures. Themes of technological integration, social sustainability, and policy implications emerge, underlining the need for adaptive pedagogies and community-centered approaches. As higher education navigates this transformative era, the editorial calls for sustained innovation and a commitment to nurturing resilient, inclusive, and environmentally conscious learning environments.


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Author Biographies

  • Dr Kim Beasy, University of Tasmania

    Kim Beasy is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Tasmania, passionate about contemporary issues that underpin questions of equity and sustainability. Kim is a core member of the international award-winning Curious Climate Schools Team, actively researching how best to ensure teachers and young people are supported in developing their adaptive capacity in a changing climate. Her esteem in the field is evidenced by her leadership of a co-edited 40 chapter book, dedicated to showcasing how Sustainable Development Goals can be advanced in diverse education contexts, available Oct 2023. Kim is leveraging her work in sustainability scholarship to support institutional curriculum change and participating in the Education for Sustainability Community of Practice.

  • Dr Joy K. Polanco O'Neil, Cabrillo College

    Joy holds her Ph.D. in Sustainability Education from Prescott College, USA. She researches and authors articles centered on how and in what ways affective and social neuroscience and ecological systems thinking contribute to the understanding of learning, leading, and change in higher education. With a multi-disciplinary background and multi-cultural background, she brings who she is into her teaching and practice. As a program/curriculum developer, she has served in leadership roles for academic undergraduate and graduate programs at various higher educational institutions, and professor of diverse topics from environmental science, sustainable food systems, biomimicry, and whole systems thinking to cultural pluralism, global education, and transformative teaching and learning. Most recently, Joy leads a center for transformative learning in California and affiliate faculty for several universities in the US and Canada. Joy's joy is to practice sustainability through gardening creating recipes and cooking multi-ethnic cuisine.

  • Dr Valeria Ruiz Vargas, Manchester Metropolitan University

    Valeria is a Senior Lecturer on Academic Development and a Research Fellow on Academic Development Evaluation at the University Teaching Academy, Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research is multidisciplinary and focused on organisational change, institutionalisation processes, governance and integration of sustainable development. She has conducted higher education policy review at institutional, national and international level whilst also developing and implementing institutional policy at Manchester Metropolitan University and supporting policy development for education in Colombia. She has experience of working in research projects and activity to support implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in a range of contexts and settings.




How to Cite

COVID-19 and Higher Education: Evolving teaching and learning for sustainability - A new era or temporary response?. (2024). Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 21(3).