Can't see the wood for the trees, can't see the trees for the numbers? Accounting education, sustainability and the public interest

Rob Gray, David Collison

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    74 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper is an attempt to explore the question “what do accountants need to know about the environment?" with a subsidiary question “how are they to acquire this knowledge?". These questions prove to be more complex than they appear and raise questions about the meaning of “environment", the purpose and role of accountants, the structure of the UK accounting profession and the role of education. Central to the paper is the belief that accounting is supposed to serve the public interest and that the pursuit of sustainability is central to that public interest. It is contended that only through, what we call, “transcendent" education can this notion be understood, let alone acted upon. The paper calls for a clearer expression of the relationship between education and training, and argues that the only way in which accounting can remain a profession, serve the public interest and respond to the exigencies of sustainability is through a major revision of accounting degrees and a relevant graduate only profession. The paper is predicated upon the belief that a profession with no real education (as opposed to training) in the subject matter of its profession is a contradiction in terms.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)797-836
    Number of pages40
    JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
    Issue number5/6
    Publication statusPublished - 2002



    • Accounting

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