Changing the climate of the classroom

Dr. Stephanie Cheah

Changing the climate of the classroom

When it comes to cultivating a passion for sustainability in future marketers and leaders, nothing beats hands-on learning, Monash University Malaysia lecturer Dr Stephanie Cheah says.

Dr Cheah says she is making the world a better place – one classroom at a time.

“Students deserve a meaningful learning experience as they are future leaders,” the Monash University Malaysia lecturer says.

“In doing what I do best, I hope to shape them into becoming one.”

Along with her colleagues from Monash University Malaysia and RMIT Vietnam, Dr Cheah is working on a collaborative project to tackle how education addresses sustainability in the classroom.

“We want to identify opportunities to challenge rather than exacerbate the climate emergency through participatory action, qualitative research and self-reflection,” she says.

“Our paper asks: ‘How can my intellectual capital as a marketing scholar help make the world a better place beyond helping marketers better meet consumers’ economic needs?’”

Dr Cheah and her co-authors were themselves participants in the research, capturing their marketing and climate change education experiences in reflective essays.

They presented their paper, ‘Changing the Climate in the Classroom: An Enquiry-Based Approach’, at the 46th Annual Macromarketing Conference 2021.

"This structure undeniably helps students achieve a purposeful outcome."

Dr Cheah has since used that work to adapt her teaching and research practises in the climate change space.

She designed hands-on lessons tasking students to devise a social commerce and media plan that solved sustainability challenges for a real-life client, RipeFresh – a fruit and vegetable farm in Malaysia.

“This structure undeniably helps students achieve a purposeful outcome as they refine their 21st-century skills, critical and creative thinking and communication and collaboration skills in team assessments,” she says.

Dr Cheah encapsulates her teaching philosophy as the “five Ps” – a passion for teaching and learning, making a safe space (place) for students, engaging participation, ensuring meaningful progression and achieving purposeful outcomes.

Creating meaningful learning experiences for students can be challenging and requires plenty of trial-and-error, hard decisions, creativity, and patience, she says.

“But it’s time we change how we address climate change in the classroom,” she says.

Dr Cheah was surprised and thrilled to learn her work had been rewarded with the Dean’s Award for Early Career Teaching.

“I was over the moon,” she says.

“The Dean’s Early Career Teaching Award is one of the toughest and most competitive award categories.”