Purpose This paper aims to critically reflect the current specialist discourse on
experiential approaches to higher education for sustainable development (HESD). Limitations
to the current discourse are identified, and as a result, an alternative approach
to the study of experiential education (EE) within HESD is suggested. Design/methodology/approach
Three research questions are addressed by analysing the literature on EE and experiential
learning (EL) within HESD in specialist academic journals. Findings There is a consensus
among authors regarding the appropriateness of experiential approaches to HESD. However,
limitations to the current discourse suggest the need for an alternative approach
to studying EE within HESD. Therefore, this paper proposes the application of the
learning landscape metaphor to take a more student-centred and holistic perspective.
Originality/value The learning landscape metaphor has previously not been applied
to EE within HESD. This alternative conceptualisation foregrounds student perspectives
to experiential initiatives within HESD. The holistic approach aims to understand
the myriad influences on students learning, while allowing examination of how experiential
approaches relate to other educational approaches within HESD.