Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Sustainability (Switzerland)








Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




Mouritz, M., Newman, P., Newman, R., Bryant, J., Smith, A., & Olsen, E. (2022). Leadership in Sustainability: Collective Wisdom, Conversations, Creativity, Contemplation and Courage, the Five Pillars of a Master’s Teaching Unit. Sustainability, 14(9), 5070.


This paper provides an overview of insights and lessons learned from nearly 20 years of running a Master’s unit called Leadership in Sustainability and how it has been used to foster change agents in small business enterprises, as well as other parts of our economy and community. The unit is based on five ‘C’ pillars, which are discussed in this paper to show how the teaching was able to assist potential leaders in their journey towards sustainability. Collective Wisdom is the theory of how leaders have used their imagination to solve collective ‘wicked problems’ and how sustainability requires such wisdom. The unit covers such theory from innovation, complexity, leadership, management and sustainability literatures, and the students are required to show they used this in solving a problem. Conversations are the main tool that is used because only through integrating diverse opinions have solutions been found to such problems as sustainability. The unit is based around case studies from leaders (including SMEs) who have approached sustainability from various perspectives, and conversations were created with the leaders to illustrate this. Creativity is introduced as a tool that draws upon different layers of perspectives on how to tackle wicked problems, as well as facilitating the breadth of conversations and actions required to solve them. The unit requires students to make a creativity contribution and the teachers provide assistance in how to make this work. Contemplation is designed to show how leadership requires reflection to enable the creativity and conversations to reach the depth and breadth required. The unit introduces students to the Theory-U tools to help instil the link between creativity and reflection or contemplation in addressing sustainability challenges and enabling leadership that creates change in personal, organizational and social systems. Finally, Courage is shown as a necessary part of the role of a leader in sustainability to make the magic of collective and creative solutions, based on conversations and contemplation, come to life through a demonstration-based transition.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.