• COVID-19: the impact of a global crisis on sustainable development teaching

      Leal Filho, Walter; Price, Elizabeth; Wall, Tony; Shiel, Chris; Azeiteiro, Ulisses; Mifsud, Mark; Brandli, Luciana; Farinha, Carla Sofia; Caeiro, Sandra; Lange Salvia, Amanda; et al.
      The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global crisis, one which also influences the ways sustainability is being taught at universities. This paper undertakes an analysis of the extent to which COVID-19 as a whole and the lockdown it triggered in particular, which has led to the suspension of presence-based teaching in universities worldwide and influenced teaching on matters related to sustainable development. By means of a worldwide survey involving higher education institutions across all continents, the study has identified a number of patterns, trends and problems. The results from the study show that the epidemic has significantly affected teaching practices. The lockdowns have led to a surge in the use of on-line communication tools as a partial replacement to normal lessons. In addition, many faculty teaching sustainability in higher education have strong competencies in digital literacy. The sampled higher education educations have -as a whole- adequate infrastructure to continue to teach during the lockdowns. Finally, the majority of the sample revealed that they miss the interactions via direct face-to-face student engagement, which is deemed as necessary for the effective teaching of sustainability content. The implications of this paper two-fold. Firstly, it describes how sustainability teaching on sustainable development has been affected by the lockdown. Secondly, it describes some of the solutions deployed to overcome the problem. Finally, the paper outlines the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic may serve the purpose of showing how university teaching on sustainability may be improved in the future, taking more advantage of modern information technologies.
    • Impacts of COVID-19 and social isolation on academic staff and students at universities: A cross-sectional study

      Leal Filho, Walter; Wall, Tony; Rayman-Bacchus, Lez; Mifsud, Mark; Pritchard, Diana; Orlovic Lovren, Violeta; Farinha, Carla Sofia; Petrovic, Danijela; Balogun, Abdul-Lateef; Hamburg University of Applied Sciences; University of Chester; Winchester Business School; University of Malta; University of Bedfordshire; University of Belgrade; NOVA University Lisbon; Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (BioMed Central, 2021-06-24)
      The impacts of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the shutdown it triggered at universities across the world, led to a great degree of social isolation among university staff and students. The aim of this study was to identify the perceived consequences of this on staff and their work and on students and their studies at universities. Method The study used a variety of methods, which involved an on-line survey on the influences of social isolation using a non-probability sampling. More specifically, two techniques were used, namely a convenience sampling (i.e. involving members of the academic community, which are easy to reach by the study team), supported by a snow ball sampling (recruiting respondents among acquaintances of the participants). A total of 711 questionnaires from 41 countries were received. Descriptive statistics were deployed to analyse trends and to identify socio-demographic differences. Inferential statistics were used to assess significant differences among the geographical regions, work areas and other socio-demographic factors related to impacts of social isolation of university staff and students. Results The study reveals that 90% of the respondents have been affected by the shutdown and unable to perform normal work or studies at their institution for between 1 week to 2 months. While 70% of the respondents perceive negative impacts of COVID 19 on their work or studies, more than 60% of them value the additional time that they have had indoors with families and others. . Conclusions While the majority of the respondents agree that they suffered from the lack of social interaction and communication during the social distancing/isolation, there were significant differences in the reactions to the lockdowns between academic staff and students. There are also differences in the degree of influence of some of the problems, when compared across geographical regions. In addition to policy actions that may be deployed, further research on innovative methods of teaching and communication with students is needed in order to allow staff and students to better cope with social isolation in cases of new or recurring pandemics.