There is increased focus on integrating sustainability in University level nutrition and dietetic curriculum, however developing relevant learning activities and assessment can be challenging due to varied experiences and views of this topic. Understanding the student perspective can provide interesting and important insights which may identify current curriculum needs and student knowledge gaps.
To describe a cohort of Australian nutrition and dietetic (N&D) students’ familiarity with dimensions of sustainability.
Study Design, Settings, Participants
An observational cross-sectional study was undertaken using a self-administered online survey completed by 95 N&D students enrolled in a nutrition or dietetic undergraduate course at a regional Australian University.
Familiarity with sustainability and related concepts of social development, environmental integrity, economic resilience and cross-cutting issues (relating to social, economic and environmental sustainability), were measured on a five-point Likert scale (1: very familiar - 5: not at all familiar). Descriptive statistics were calculated.
Most students reported being very familiar (28%), quite familiar (45%), or familiar (23%) with the term sustainability. A greater proportion of students were very or quite familiar with the term environmental sustainability (75%), compared to economic (47%) and social (22%) sustainability. The sustainability related issue of widespread availability of highly processed foods (environmental integrity concept) and secure livelihoods (economic resilience concept) had the highest level of familiarity (90.5% and 80% very or quite familiar respectively), while least reported familiarity was living conditions of farm labourers (social development concept) and the use of food and agricultural policies (cross-cutting concept) (41% somewhat or not at all familiar respectively).
Students reported varying levels of familiarity with terminology and concepts of sustainability. Identification of gaps and areas of student interest may assist with the design of curriculum and associated learning, teaching and assessment resources.