Purpose India is unique, having enshrined in law the teaching of sustainability education (SE) within all levels of formal education. This study aims to examine the integration and perceptions of SE within the higher education (HE) sector in India and identify any lessons that can be exported about the teaching of SE from the Indian HE environment. Design/methodology/approach Focusing on a science-based teaching and research institute at a private university in India, a quantitative, cross-sectional study examined the extent to which SE was integrated into the university and how it was perceived by students and staff. Data were collected through two online questionnaires administered to lecturers and undergraduate students during the 2017 academic year. Findings Most students reported that their university experiences had contributed significantly to their knowledge about sustainability. Results also showed there was a positive association between the teaching and learning about sustainability, although staff and students reported that this could be improved by including more active, student-centred teaching and learning approaches. However, students felt that they had learnt the most about sustainability from the informal “hidden” rather than the “formal” curriculum. This suggests that research is now required into ways to capitalise on this as a medium to further develop, not just Indian, but students’ worldwide sustainability literacy. Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first to present a detailed study of the perceptions of the contribution of the “formal” and the informal “hidden” curriculum to SE by students and staff at an Indian university.



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International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education



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School of Biological and Marine Sciences