Based on a series of interviews with academics interested in social and environmental accounting education, this paper reflects on the changing nature of British university accounting curricula and the processes encouraging or hindering change. Social and environmental accounting would appear to be a developing subject area, but one which remains peripheral to accounting degree schemes, despite its claimed pedagogic benefits. The paper explores the assumptions, motivations, constraints and pressures influencing what is taught on undergraduate accounting programs and thereby illustrates the questionable status of such programs. The paper concludes by calling for accounting academics to give greater attention to how accounting knowledge is constituted, and, more specifically, to liberate notions of "relevant" accounting education from their implicit, but still powerful, professional and institutional strangleholds. © 1996 Academic Press Limited.