Wednesday, March 03, 2010

education for sustainable development

education for sustainable development
Gag me with a spoon. This is what "education for sustainable development" as promoted by the UN and Internatinoal Baccalaureate program, indoctrination into birth control global  
4>> esd toolkit

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Page 1
Education for Sustainable
A Framework for
Educational Reform
5 – 8 October 2007
Sheldon Shaeffer
UNESCO Bangkok, Asia and Pacific
Regional Bureau for Education

Page 2
Development that can:
“meet the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs”
Sustainable Development
to meet their own needs”
Brundtland Report of the World Commission on
Environment and Development, 1987

Page 3
Balancing environmental, social, and economic
considerations in the pursuit of development and
an improved quality of life
Sustainable Development
Promoting the ideals of gender equity, just and
peaceful societies, human rights, environmental
preservation and restoration, cultural diversity,
and poverty alleviation

Page 4
What is Education for
Sustainable Development?
ESD is a partnership that engages multiple sectors
and stakeholders – including media and the private
sector – and utilises all forms and methods of public
awareness-raising, education, and training to
promote sustainable development.
promote sustainable development.
It encourages people to understand:
the complexities of, and synergies among, the
issues threatening planetary sustainability
their own values and those of the society in
which they live.

Page 5
Domains of Education for
Sustainable Development
ESD is about learning rather than teaching. It
therefore requires:
Reforming the structure and nature of basic
Reorienting existing education programmes
Developing public awareness about what
sustainability means
Building capacity within education systems and
across all other ESD partners

Page 6
Education for Sustainable
Development (ESD)
Three Pillars of Sustainable Development
Environment – an awareness of the richness of our
natural resources and of the fragility of the physical
Economy – a sensitivity to the limits and potential of
economic growth and to its impact on society and on
economic growth and to its impact on society and on
the environment
Society – an understanding of social institutions and
their role in change and development
with Culture – ways of behaving, believing, and acting,
unique to every context, as an underlying and critical

Page 7
Human Well-being
Sustainable Development
and ESD
Education for Sustainable Development aims to promote a
balance among the pillars by empowering people through
education -- formal, non-formal, and informal.
Education for Sustainable Development
Good Governance
Model of sustainable development adapted from Somphone (2006)

Page 8
Environmental Issues
Conservation of natural resources and
“Green” consumerism
Control of climate change
Core Issues
Control of climate change
Transformation of rural societies and
Sustainable urbanization
Disaster prevention and mitigation
Which of these are taught in your

Page 9
Economic Issues
Poverty alleviation and a more equal
distribution of income
Corporate responsibility and
Core Issues
A “benign” market economy and fair
Energy conservation
Sustainable tourism and land use
And these?

Page 10
Socio-Cultural Issues
Fulfillment of human rights
Peace and human security
Gender equality
Good health (e.g., HIV/AIDS prevention)
Core Issues
Good health (e.g., HIV/AIDS prevention)
Good governance
Reinforcement of intercultural/international
Preservation of cultural and linguistic diversity
And these?

Page 11
Interdisciplinary and holistic
Focused on critical inquiry, reflective
thinking, and problem solving
Key Characteristics of ESD
thinking, and problem solving
Participatory and collaborative in decision-
Locally relevant

Page 12
UN Decade of Education for
Sustainable Development (DESD)
A world where everyone has the opportunity
A world where everyone has the opportunity
to benefit from education and learn the
values, behaviours, and lifestyles required
for a sustainable future and for positive
societal transformation.

Page 13
Objectives of the Decade
Facilitate networking, linkages, exchanges,
and interaction among stakeholders in ESD
Foster an increased quality of teaching and
learning in Education for Sustainable
Help countries make progress toward and
attain the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) through ESD efforts
Provide countries with new opportunities to
incorporate ESD into education reform efforts

Page 14
The Delors Report:
The Four Pillars of Learning
In order to help modern society cope with the
challenges in the world around it, the Delors
report, Learning: The Treasure Within,
recommended four pillars of learning:
Learning to know – acquiring the
instruments of understanding, or learning
how to learn
Learning to do applying learned
knowledge in daily life, to be able to act
creatively and responsibly in one’s

Page 15
Learning to be
acquiring universally shared values
developing one’s personality, self-identity, and
The Delors Report:
The Four Pillars of Learning
becoming immersed in one’s own culture and
its wisdom
being empowered to learn about oneself and
become more fully human

Page 16
Learning to live together – education for international
and inter-cultural understanding
the social dimension of human development
the basis for cohesion and harmony, conflict
avoidance, non-violence, and peaceful coexistence
the recognition that difference and diversity are
The Delors Report:
The Four Pillars of Learning
the recognition that difference and diversity are
opportunities rather than dangers and are a valuable
resource to be used for the common good
the ability to tolerate, respect, welcome, and even
celebrate difference and diversity in people and in
their histories, traditions, beliefs, values, and
cultures, and to use this diversity to enrich our lives –
and our classrooms

Page 17
The Fifth Pillar?
But Education for Sustainable Development
adds a “fifth”, more proactive pillar –
learning to transform society and
change the world:
to work toward a gender-neutral, non-
to work toward a gender-neutral, non-
discriminatory society
to act to achieve social solidarity and
international understanding
above all, to live sustainably

Page 18
ESD and the Curriculum
Both the Four (or Five) Pillars and ESD are
concerned with the development of
knowledge and skills, values, attitudes,
and behaviours.
ESD offers the possibility of serving as a
ESD offers the possibility of serving as a
larger framework for all values-related
education, including inter-cultural
education and global education, human
rights education, citizenship education,
peace education, and moral education.

Page 19
ESD and the Curriculum
If ESD is seen as a general framework for a
national curriculum and for classroom
teaching, then curriculum developers
should ensure:
that specific values (e.g., peace and
that specific values (e.g., peace and
human rights education) are included in
an integrated ESD curriculum and/or
that any stand-alone values subject is
developed in the broader context of

Page 20
ESD and the Curriculum
One option, courtesy of Margaret Sinclair:
clearly-labelled special lessons (e,g,, related
to peace, human rights, active citizenship)
following a cyclic curriculum throughout the
period of schooling
period of schooling
a special earmarked lesson time of not less
than one period per week
teachers specially trained to use experiential

Page 21
ESD and Teacher Training
and Development
Reorientation of pre-service teacher
education curricula (especially in terms of
social science, science, geography, etc.)
towards the core issues of sustainability
Integration of SD into all relevant subjects
Integration of SD into all relevant subjects
Development of model ESD teacher training
programmes (pre-service and in-service)
and associated classroom materials based
on innovative ESD curricula and methods

Page 22
Aims of ESD-NET
To identify gaps from an ESD perspective in
existing education curricula and take action to
address these gaps
To assist teacher educators and teacher
To assist teacher educators and teacher
education institutions s to find locally relevant
and culturally appropriate ways to reorient their
courses toward sustainable development
To establish a network of action research
projects in teacher education for sustainable

Page 23
International Implementation
Scheme for the DESD
Overview of ESD and the Decade
Goals and objectives of the Decade
Goals and objectives of the Decade
Relation to other international initiatives
Strategies for implementation
Roles of stakeholders
Monitoring and evaluation

Page 24
Implementing the DESD
Building capacity
Promoting international cooperation
Leading coordination at the
international level
international level
Catalyse new partnerships
Encourage monitoring and evaluation
Encourage research on ESD
Bring together important stakeholders
Share good ESD practices

Page 25
Leading Regional Activities
New Zealand
June 2005, Nagoya, Japan
Asia-Pacific Regional Launch of the Decade of ESD
Pacific Islands

Page 26
Build and Strengthen Capacity for ESD:
Moving ESD Forward in the Asia-Pacific
and High-level
and Assessment
Curricula and
Teacher Training

Page 27
10th UNESCO Bangkok Conference
December 12-14, 2007
Re-inventing Higher Education: From
Participatory Development to
Sustainable Development
Sustainable Development

Page 28
UNESCO Bangkok, Asia and Pacific
Regional Bureau for Education

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Page 1
Sheldon Shaeffer
Director, UNESCO Asia and Pacific
Regional Bureau for Education

Page 2
There is not enough values-based
education in the region today.
There are too many values-based
curricula in the region today.
What needs to be done to bring some
sense of order to this often confusing
and even competitive situation?
How can schools better reflect and
demonstrate a values-based

Page 3
A change of the desired development model
from economic growth to social cohesion and
human-centred development
A widening rift between rich and poor and
increasing social exclusion
the growing importance of education for poverty
alleviation and social inclusion

Page 4
Alienation and de-humanisation in the process
of material development
the need for humanistic values education
The exploding AIDS epidemic
the need for better preventive education and
new roles for teachers and schools
Rapid changes of economic structures and
labour market needs
education for adaptability to change rather than
for specific occupational skills

Page 5
The rapid advance of ICTs and the increasing
digital divide among and within countries
the role of ICTs to reduce, rather than increase,
disparities in educational access and quality
the need to preserve cultural identity and the
localisation” of the development process
An apparent increase in intolerance, violence,
and terrorism
the need for inter-cultural, inter-faith education
and education for peace

Page 6
Above all, the need to ensure
sustainable development –
development that can:
“meet the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs”
Brundtland Report of the World Commission on
Environment and Development, 1987

Page 7
In order to help modern society cope with the
challenges in the world around it, the Delors
report, Learning: The Treasure Within,
recommends four goals of learning:
Learning to know – acquiring the instruments of
understanding, or learning how to learn
Learning to do – applying learned knowledge in
daily life, to be able to act creatively and
responsibly in one’s environment

Page 8
Learning to be
acquiring universally shared values
developing one’s personality, self-identity, self-
knowledge, and self-fulfillment – the complete
in essence, developing wisdom and becoming
immersed in one’s culture
empowering people to learn about ourselves
and become more fully human

Page 9
Learning to live together – what is it?
the social dimension of human development
the basis for cohesion and harmony, conflict
avoidance, non-violence, and peaceful coexistence
the recognition that difference and diversity are
opportunities rather than dangers and are a valuable
resource to be used for the common good
the ability to tolerate, respect, welcome, embrace,
and even celebrate difference and diversity in
people and in their histories, traditions, beliefs,
values, and cultures, and to use this diversity to
enrich our lives

Page 10
Learning to live together – why do it?
to cope with situations of tension, exclusion,
conflict, violence, and terrorism
to respond constructively to the cultural diversity
and economic disparity found within and across
the region
to enable people to live in increasingly pluralistic,
multi-cultural societies
to provide a peaceful environment for sustainable
socio-economic development
to further the mission of “constructing the defense
of peace in the minds of men”

Page 11
Learning to live together – how to do it?
reformulate policies for systematic education reform –
towards education for social inclusion, conflict
resolution, and mutual understanding
emphasise changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes,
and behaviours via changes in educational content,
approaches, and ethics, both in and out of school
reorganise curricular contents with a central
emphasis on moral, ethical, and cultural education

Page 12
Learning to live together – how to do it?
retrain and mobilise teachers and school
administrators towards more democratic,
participatory interactions and as role models of
learning to live together
create a safe, peaceful, and harmonious
school climate which reflects the ideal of
learning to live together
link it with what it taught in homes,
communities, the media, the workplace, and
other informal learning contexts

Page 13
Three Pillars of Sustainable Development
Society – an understanding of social institutions
and their role in change and development
Environment – an awareness of resources and
the fragility of the physical environment
Economy – a sensitivity to the limits and
potential of economic growth and its impact on
society and on the environment
with Culture – ways of being, relating, behaving,
believing, and acting which differ according to
context, history and tradition -- as an underlying

Page 14
A world where everyone has the opportunity
to benefit from education and learn the
values, behaviours, and lifestyles required
for a sustainable future and for positive
societal transformation.

Page 15
Enhance the role of education in sustainable
Facilitate links between stakeholders
Promote the vision through learning and
Foster higher quality of learning
Develop strategies at every level

Page 16
Socio-Cultural Issues
Fulfillment of human rights
Guarantee of peace and human security
Gender equality
Reinforcement of cultural diversity and
intercultural understanding
Good health
HIV/AIDS prevention
Good governance

Page 17
Environmental Issues
Conservation of natural
Control of climate change
Rural transformation
Sustainable urbanization
Disaster prevention and

Page 18
Economic Issues
Poverty reduction
Corporate responsibility and
A “benign” market economy

Page 19
Interdisciplinary and holistic
Focused on critical thinking and
problem solving
Participatory in decision-making
Locally relevant

Page 20
Both are concerned with the development
of knowledge and skills, values and
attitudes, and behaviours.
Learning to live together – including
between faiths and cultures – is an
essential part of ESD.
ESD offers the possibility of serving as a
larger framework for all values-related

Page 21
But ESD, in effect, adds a “fifth” pillar –
learning to transform society and change
the world – i.e., work toward a gender-
neutral, non-discriminatory society; act to
achieve social solidarity; and live
sustainably --
to respect and protect the earth and its
to adopt behaviours and practices that restrain
and minimise our ecological footprint on the
world around us – without depriving us of
opportunities for development and fulfillment
to co-exist and cooperate with nature whenever
possible, rather than always seeking to
conquer it and control it

Page 22
Implementing the (now) Five Pillars and
learning about ESD require schools to
reflect and demonstrate the essential core
messages of these two frameworks.
Their teaching processes and learning
environments, their organisational
structures and personal interactions, must
demonstrate the Five Pillars and reflect
ESD in all of its components.

Page 23
1. is a child-seeking school
actively identifying excluded
children to get them enrolled in school
and included in learning
promoting and helping to monitor
the rights and well-being of ALL
children in the community

Page 24
2. is a child-centred school
acting in the best interests of the child
leading to the realisation of the child’s
full potential
concerned about the “whole” child:
health, nutritional status, and well-being
concerned about what happens to
children before they enter school and
after they leave school

Page 25
3. above all, has an environment of good
inclusive of children
effective with children
healthy and protective for children
encouraging the participation of children,
families, and communities

Page 26
1. Does not exclude, discriminate against, or
stereotype on the basis of difference
2. Provides education that is free and compulsory,
affordable and accessible, especially to families and
children at risk
3. Respects diversity and ensures equality of
opportunity for all children (e.g., girls, ethnic minority
and working children, children with disabilities, AIDS-
affected children)
4. Responds to diversity and meets the differing needs
of children (e.g., based on gender, social class,
ethnicity, and ability level)

Page 27
1. Promotes good quality teaching and learning
• instruction appropriate to each child’s learning
needs, abilities, and styles
• active, co-operative, and democratic learning
2. Provides structured content and good quality
materials and resources
3. Enhances teacher capacity, morale,
commitment, status, and income
4. Promotes quality learning outcomes

Page 28
1. Ensures a learning environment of good
quality - healthy, hygienic, and safe
2. Provides life-skills based health education
3. Promotes both the physical and the
psycho/socio/emotional health of teachers and
4. Helps to defend and protect all children from
abuse and harm
5. Provides positive experiences for children

Page 29
1. Promotes gender equality in enrolment and
2. Eliminates gender stereotypes
3. Guarantees girl-friendly facilities, curricula,
textbooks, and teaching
4. Socialises girls and boys in a non-violent
environment and encourages respect for each
other’s rights, dignity, and equality

Page 30
1. Child-centred
promotes child participation in school life
2. Family-focused
works to strengthen the family as a child’s
primary caregiver and educator
helps children, parents, and teachers
establish harmonious, collaborative
3. Community-based
encourages local partnerships in education
acts in and with the community for the sake
of children

Page 31
A school supportive of, and reflecting,
sustainable development:
where everyone has the opportunity
to benefit from education and learn
the values, behaviours, and
lifestyles required for a sustainable
future and for positive societal

First report on project

Project proposer: Gina Wisker
Institution: University of Brighton
Project Title: COASTAL: Curriculum Outcomes, And Sustainable Teaching, Assessment, Learning.


The project aims to identify, share and encourage the uptake of successful models and strategies for embedding sustainable development into the HE curriculum and addresses learning outcomes, assessment and learning and teaching practices.

The project looks to investigate

  • The criteria, definitions, examples and models of effective and sustainable development in the HE curriculum
  • How HE student SD learning outcomes can be achieved, expressed and embedded through different disciplines and across disciplines, and via community and volunteering opportunities
  • How effective models of SD learning can be shared locally and with the HE sectors

Activity undertaken thus far

These encompass 3 components as follows (and are all ongoing)

1.    Desk-based research

·         Of existing ESD literature to gather together effective examples and models of embedding SD in the curriculum, learning, teaching, assessment and community outreach in local, national and international contexts. Includes papers, references, links, summaries, case studies and literature reviews.  The particular focus is on the pedagogy employed. 

·         Telephone and face to face interviews with staff across the faculties of the University of Brighton to collate examples of good practice in relation to ESD.  In addition, good practice identified in other universities, sourced through the literature and email groups such as through EAUC are being compiled. 

2. Internal dissemination

·         Two community of practice (ESD Interest Group) meetings have been held through which the aims and progress of the project were shared with interested staff and ideas for further improvement considered. These were in addition to a meeting of the Learning and Teaching Forum.   Discussions have centred on how teaching staff are integrating, or are intending to integrate, sustainable development considerations into their curricula.
·         An Education for Sustainable Development ‘Community’ has been established within the University of Brighton Intra-net.  The resources detailed under (1) have been filed, small summaries compiled and this has been piloted across a small number of staff.  This is intended to ‘go live’ and be made accessible to the rest of the university mid-way through the project.

3.  Development of new case materials

·         A number of video recordings have been made of current examples of  education for sustainable development activities within the University of Brighton (where students are involved in role play, action learning etc).  These have been identified from a number of different disciplinary contexts.

·         Interviews have also been conducted with staff and students involved in this learning and teaching.  Some of these have been recorded and videoed for the purpose of further analysis and dissemination (see future activities below). 

Two focus groups with students exposed to ESD activities have been conducted towards exploring the impact on student learning

Assessment of progress

Progress on the project was slower than expected through this initial period due to the unexpected withdrawal of the identified research officer to conduct their own fieldwork abroad.  They were replaced but it took a short while for the replacement RO to take control of the project- this is now successfully underway.
However, it was also evident through the activities detailed under (1) and (2) above, that a sharper focus to the research would also enable it to make a more valuable contribution to the progress of embedding SD in the curriculum, learning, teaching and assessment within the University of Brighton and to further national learning in this field.

The enhanced focus for the project centres around the identification of ESD examples across the disciplines but with an emphasis on pedagogy employed.  In addition, dissemination of these examples, it is believed, would be more effective through a range of outlets, and in particular, the development of a wiki-based, interactive web-based platform in addition to the traditional text based report.

It is envisaged that this type of dissemination format will be more effective in engaging lecturers in ESD than just a written report. It will be an opportunity for lecturers to see ESD in action in their own discipline, each example accompanied by sound bites from the students and lecturers involved, explaining how it worked and how it impacted upon the students.

This enhanced focus has led to a new methodology within the project relying considerably more on

·         the collection and creation of video clips and photographs of examples of Education for Sustainable Development and
·         the collection and creation of recorded interviews with staff and students who were involved in the videoed examples of ESD.

These audio and visual records will be used both as hard data and as dissemination tools within this project, whilst also forming the basis for the future creation of an interactive, multimedia wiki-based website for which University of Brighton and further resources will be sourced.  As many disciplines as possible will be represented on this website, each with a number of visual and audio vignettes illustrating the range of pedagogic learning and teaching styles that can support the effective implementation of ESD. Particular focus will be given to community and volunteering examples.

As a result of this new dimension to the project, the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges have asked to make some formal links with the work we are doing, and are prepared to assist us in identifying examples and resources and in disseminating the findings.  They have invited us to attend a national ESD Swap-Shop in which lecturers from all over the country who have conducted successful ESD will come to share their approaches and to learn from each other. Attendees will write up their ESD case studies and submit them to be compiled into a paper publication. It is envisaged that our role in this event will be to make audio and visual recordings of the attendee’s thoughts and reflections on their case studies. These recordings will be edited and compiled to create a multimedia version of the paper publication.  They will also be used as to hard date to be analysed for the final report to Escalate.

Defining ESD

The understanding of ESD that we have started out with for this project is in line with the UNESCO definition of ESD, a definition guiding the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development:

‘Education for sustainable development is about learning to:
- respect, value and preserve the achievements of the past;
- appreciate the wonders and the peoples of the Earth;
- live in a world where all people have sufficient food for a healthy and productive life;
- assess, care for and restore the state of our Planet;
- create and enjoy a better, safer, more just world;
- be caring citizens who exercise their rights and responsibilities locally, nationally and globally.

UNESCO expand on this definition further, including the types of pedagogies, dimensions and skills that should be involved in ESD:

ESD is fundamentally about values, with respect at the centre: respect for others, including those of present and future generations, for difference and diversity, for the environment, for the resources of the planet we inhabit. Education enables us to understand ourselves and others and our links with the wider natural and social environment, and this understanding serves as a durable basis for building respect. Along with a sense of justice, responsibility, exploration and dialogue, ESD aims to move us to adopting behaviours and practices which enable all to live a full life without being deprived of basics.

ESD mirrors the concern for education of high quality, demonstrating characteristics: such as:
- Interdisciplinary and holistic: learning for sustainable development embedded in the whole curriculum, not as a separate subject;
- Values-driven: sharing the values and principles underpinning sustainable development;
- Critical thinking and problem solving: leading to confidence in addressing the dilemmas and challenges of sustainable development;
- Multi-method: word, art, drama, debate, experience, … different pedagogies which model the processes;
- Participatory decision-making: learners participate in decisions on how they are to learn;
- Locally relevant: addressing local as well as global issues, and using the language(s) which learners most commonly use.

However, this definition is very broad, and in searching for case studies and arranging interviews, we are open to investigating examples that seems to cover any combination of the dimensions and skills listed above.

Summary of emergent findings

Definitions Through interviews with lecturers engaging in ESD, a range of definitions have emerged in relation to the term ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ which mirrors the national picture  (Robinson and Shallcross 2006) from individual sustainability (mental health) to issues of sustainable theory/practice interaction to environmental concerns.  It is intended that this project works towards a cross university debate and clarification around these terms.

Criteria From initial analysis of data there appears a consensus of opinion that, whatever the definition, effective ESD involves a three way interrelationship between theory, experiential learning and personal reflection

Personal reflection
Experiential learning

These interrelated areas are part of a wider recognition that  ‘both formal and informal education are indispensable to changing peoples attitudes’ (Quarrie 1991 p 221). Furthermore, it seems that for teaching to be considered ESD, it must explore the cross over between the social, environmental and economic dimensions of the given discipline. Thus ESD is expressed both in terms of  approach to learning and teaching, and as focus or content.

Examples and models of ESD

Based loosely on the UNESCO definition of ESD, Case studies are being investigated across all disciplines, covering a range of pedagogic styles.

Case study 1: Role play exploring project management and community consultation for a fictional geological drilling project

Early work suggests that students find the use of role play and case study-based learning can be an effective approach to ESD, particularly with regards to the requirements of their potential future employers.  The demands of employers are increasingly focused on graduates’ ability to consider and deal with multiple real-world factors, environmental, social and economic.  An understanding of the narrow discipline alone is no longer enough.  Interviews with students suggested a variety of experience.  For example, one response was

‘I wish we had had this module earlier on in the course! This kind of insight into the professional world would have been really useful to mention in my recent job applications’

However, another student complained that this module was ‘a complete waste of time’ due to the fact that the learning would be of no use to their final year exams. This suggests that modules like this are always going to be difficult to establish and run if they are not supported by the exam boards. During an interview with the lecturer of this module, he mentioned that ‘often students can’t see the point in this module whilst they are doing it, but tell me later that it has been really useful for their work, post university’

Case study 2: Modules that support a deep approach to learning – Education/Design technology

In this case study the lecturer outlined a new module, introduced this year, to support a module specifically aimed at environmental sustainable development .  In previous years on the DT course  module 2 required students to design a product with particular reference to environmental issues ( refuse, reuse, reduce, recycle or repair).  However assessments  revealed that students were not engaging with the task on a deep level and were ‘ticking the boxes’ in order to meet the assessment criteria.  To address this  new module 1 requires students to assess and identify their own learning needs and take action to address those needs.  This has had the impact of encouraging students to take responsibility for and engage with their learning on a deep level.  It is hoped that the development of these skills will support the effective embedding of issues of ESD when students tackle module two.

It is intended to interview students when they have completed both modules to analyse the impact on their ESD learning.

Case study 3 – Modules that support  community engagement

The Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP) at the university runs a generic module over a range of disciplines including health, Biology/pharmaceuticals, geography and environment, languages and Social Sciences.  The module requires students to undertake a period of volunteering in a community organisation in a mutual exchange of skills and knowledge.  The placement facilitates students’ identification and matching of their skills to their chosen or anticipated career/employment path.  This experience is seen to support students’ reflections around their values and broaden their experience of the diversity of society and the complexity of social/political and economic organisation.  This opportunity for experiential learning  is recognised to be  a key ingredient in the ESD agenda (UNESCO 2004 in Robinson and Shallcross 2006).

Student s within the school of environment have been directly involved in projects relating to the environment (such as support for the RSPB in a local protection area) and as such are also  having a direct experience with the environmental strand of ESD.  Future plans include taking video footage/photographic stills of these projects to use as a promotional resource both across the disciplines involved and the university at large.

Again it is intended to interview students when they have completed their placement to assess and analysis the impact on students awareness of ESD issues.

Next Steps

·         Continue collecting and recording video clips and interviews with staff and students here at University of Brighton ensuring all disciplines covered
·         Visits to be made to other universities for the purpose of recording ESD teaching and learning initiatives and interviewing relevant staff and students.
Pursue collaboration with EAUC through which further case studies, examples and video clips will be identified nationally and internationally via their partnership with a number of American Universities

We are continuing to plan appropriate dissemination.

The project team:

Gina Wisker
Jenny Elliott
Poppy Villiers Stuart
Julie Canavan


Robinson and Shallcross (2006)  Education for sustainable development in Kaseem et al  Education studies: issues and critical perspectives. New York. Open University PP 233-248

Quarrie, J. (Ed)   Earth Summit '92 : the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development : Rio de Janeiro , UNCED

Education is an essential tool for achieving sustainability. People around the world recognize that current economic development trends are not sustainable and that public awareness, education, and training are key to moving society toward sustainability. Beyond that, there is little agreement. People argue about the meaning of sustainable development and whether or not it is attainable. They have different visions of what sustainable societies will look like and how they will function. These same people wonder why educators have not moved more quickly to develop education for sustainability (EfS) programs. The lack of agreement and definition have stymied efforts to move education for sustainable development (ESD) forward.
It is curious to note that while we have difficulty envisioning a sustainable world, we have no difficulty identifying what is unsustainable in our societies. We can rapidly create a laundry list of problems - inefficient use of energy, lack of water conservation, increased pollution, abuses of human rights, overuse of personal transportation, consumerism, etc. But we should not chide ourselves because we lack a clear definition of sustainability. Indeed, many truly great concepts of the human world - among them democracy and justice - are hard to define and have multiple expressions in cultures around the world.
In the Toolkit, we use three terms synonymously and interchangeably: education for sustainable development (ESD), education for sustainability (EfS), and sustainability education (SE). We use ESD most often, because it is the terminology used frequently at the international level and within UN documents. Locally or nationally, the ESD effort may be named or described in many ways because of language and cultural differences. As with all work related to sustainable development, the name and the content must be locally relevant and culturally appropriate.
An important distinction is the difference between education about sustainable development and education for sustainable development. The first is an awareness lesson or theoretical discussion. The second is the use of education as a tool to achieve sustainability. In our opinion, more than a theoretical discussion is needed at this critical juncture in time. While some people argue that "for" indicates indoctrination, we think "for" indicates a purpose. All education serves a purpose or society would not invest in it. Driver education, for example, seeks to make our roads safer for travelers. Fire-safety education seeks to prevent fires and tragic loss of lives and property. ESD promises to make the world more livable for this and future generations. Of course, a few will abuse or distort ESD and turn it into indoctrination. This would be antithetical to the nature of ESD, which, in fact, calls for giving people knowledge and skills for lifelong learning to help them find new solutions to their environmental, economic, and social issues.
Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is a difficult concept to define; it is also continually evolving, which makes it doubly difficult to define. One of the original descriptions of sustainable development is credited to the Brundtland Commission: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, p 43). Sustainable development is generally thought to have three components: environment, society, and economy. The well-being of these three areas is intertwined, not separate. For example, a healthy, prosperous society relies on a healthy environment to provide food and resources, safe drinking water, and clean air for its citizens. The sustainability paradigm rejects the contention that casualties in the environmental and social realms are inevitable and acceptable consequences of economic development. Thus, the authors consider sustainability to be a paradigm for thinking about a future in which environmental, societal, and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of development and improved quality of life.
Principles of Sustainable Development
Many governments and individuals have pondered what sustainable development means beyond a simple one-sentence definition. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development fleshes out the definition by listing 18 principles of sustainability.
  • People are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
  • Development today must not undermine the development and environment needs of present and future generations.
  • Nations have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources, but without causing environmental damage beyond their borders.
  • Nations shall develop international laws to provide compensation for damage that activities under their control cause to areas beyond their borders.
  • Nations shall use the precautionary approach to protect the environment. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, scientific uncertainty shall not be used to postpone cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
  • In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process, and cannot be considered in isolation from it. Eradicating poverty and reducing disparities in living standards in different parts of the world are essential to achieve sustainable development and meet the needs of the majority of people.
  • Nations shall cooperate to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystem. The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they command.
  • Nations should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and promote appropriate demographic policies.
  • Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens. Nations shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making environmental information widely available.
  • Nations shall enact effective environmental laws, and develop national law regarding liability for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage. Where they have authority, nations shall assess the environmental impact of proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact.
  • Nations should cooperate to promote an open international economic system that will lead to economic growth and sustainable development in all countries. Environmental policies should not be used as an unjustifiable means of restricting international trade.
  • The polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution.
  • Nations shall warn one another of natural disasters or activities that may have harmful transboundary impacts.
  • Sustainable development requires better scientific understanding of the problems. Nations should share knowledge and innovative technologies to achieve the goal of sustainability.
  • The full participation of women is essential to achieve sustainable development. The creativity, ideals and courage of youth and the knowledge of indigenous people are needed too. Nations should recognize and support the identity, culture and interests of indigenous people.
  • Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development, and Nations shall respect international laws protecting the environment in times of armed conflict, and shall cooperate in their further establishment.
  • Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.
The "Rio principles" give us parameters for envisioning locally relevant and culturally appropriate sustainable development for our own nations, regions, and communities. These principles help us to grasp the abstract concept of sustainable development and begin to implement it.
Here are some effective explanations of sustainable development created for different audiences.
Sustainable development has three components: environment, society, and economy. If you consider the three to be overlapping circles of the same size, the area of overlap in the center is human well-being. As the environment, society, and economy become more aligned, the area of overlap increases, and so does human well-being.
The National Town Meeting on Sustainability (May 1999) in Detroit, Michigan, established that the term "sustainable development," although frequently used, is not well understood. We believe that it means new technologies and new ways of doing business, which allow us to improve quality of life today in all economic, environmental, and social dimensions, without impairing the ability of future generations to enjoy quality of life and opportunity at least as good as ours.
The human rights community says that sustainability is attainable through and supported by peace, justice, and democracy.
The Great Law of the Hau de no sau nee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederation) says that in every deliberation we must consider the impact on the seventh generation.
Economics educators say sustainability is living on the interest rather than the principle.
History of Education for Sustainable Development
From the time sustainable development was first endorsed at the UN General Assembly in 1987, the parallel concept of education to support sustainable development has also been explored. From 1987 to 1992, the concept of sustainable development matured as committees discussed, negotiated, and wrote the 40 chapters of Agenda 21. Initial thoughts concerning ESD were captured in Chapter 36 of Agenda 21, "Promoting Education, Public Awareness, and Training."
Unlike most education movements, ESD was initiated by people outside of the education community. In fact, one major push for ESD came from international political and economic forums (e.g., United Nations, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Organization of American States). As the concept of sustainable development was discussed and formulated, it became apparent that education is key to sustainability. In many countries, ESD is still being shaped by those outside the education community. The concepts and content of ESD in these cases are developed by ministries, such as those of environment and health, and then given to educators to deliver. Conceptual development independent of educator input is a problem recognized by international bodies as well as educators.
Education: Promise and Paradox
Two of the major issues in the international dialog on sustainability are population and resource consumption. Increases in population and resource use are thought to jeopardize a sustainable future, and education is linked both to fertility rate and resource consumption. Educating females reduces fertility rates and therefore population growth. By reducing fertility rates and the threat of overpopulation a country also facilitates progress toward sustainability. The opposite is true for the relationship between education and resource use. Generally, more highly educated people, who have higher incomes, consume more resources than poorly educated people, who tend to have lower incomes. In this case, more education increases the threat to sustainability.
Unfortunately, the most educated nations leave the deepest ecological footprints, meaning they have the highest per-capita rates of consumption. This consumption drives resource extraction and manufacturing around the world. The figures from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Statistical Yearbook and World Education Report, for example, show that in the United States more than 80 percent of the population has some post-secondary education, and about 25 percent of the population has a four-year degree from a university. Statistics also show that per-capita energy use and waste generation in the United States are nearly the highest in the world. In the case of the United States, more education has not led to sustainability. Clearly, simply educating citizenry to higher levels is not sufficient for creating sustainable societies. The challenge is to raise the education levels without creating an ever-growing demand for resources and consumer goods and the accompanying production of pollutants. Meeting this challenge depends on reorienting curriculums to address the need for more-sustainable production and consumption patterns.
Every nation will need to reexamine curriculum at all levels (i.e., pre-school to professional education). While it is evident that it is difficult to teach environmental literacy, economics literacy, or civics without basic literacy, it is also evident that simply increasing basic literacy, as it is currently taught in most countries, will not support a sustainable society.
Thresholds of Education and Sustainability
Consider for instance, that when education levels are low, economies are often limited to resource extraction and agriculture. In many countries, the current level of basic education is so low that it severely hinders development options and plans for a sustainable future. A higher education level is necessary to create jobs and industries that are "greener" (i.e., those having lower environmental impacts) and more sustainable.
The relationship between education and sustainable development is complex. Generally, research shows that basic education is key to a nation's ability to develop and achieve sustainability targets. Research has shown that education can improve agricultural productivity, enhance the status of women, reduce population growth rates, enhance environmental protection, and generally raise the standard of living. But the relationship is not linear. For example, four to six years of education is the minimum threshold for increasing agricultural productivity. Literacy and numeracy allow farmers to adapt to new agricultural methods, cope with risk, and respond to market signals. Literacy also helps farmers mix and apply chemicals (e.g., fertilizers and pesticides) according to manufacturers' directions, thereby reducing the risks to the environment and human health. A basic education also helps farmers gain title to their land and apply for credit at banks and other lending institutions. Effects of education on agriculture are greatest when the proportion of females educated to threshold level equals that of males.
Education benefits a woman in life-altering ways. An educated woman gains higher status and an enhanced sense of efficacy. She tends to marry later and have greater bargaining power and success in the "marriage market." She also has greater bargaining power in the household after marriage. An educated woman tends to desire a smaller family size and seek the health care necessary to do so. She has fewer and healthier children. An educated woman has high educational and career expectations of her children, both boys and girls. For females, education profoundly changes their lives, how they interact with society, and their economic status. Educating women creates more equitable lives for women and their families and increases their ability to participate in community decision making and work toward achieving local sustainability goals.
Another educational threshold is primary education for women. At least a primary education is required before birthrate drops and infant health and children's education improve. Nine to 12 years of education are required for increased industrial productivity. This level of education also increases the probability of employment in a changing economy. Few studies have been carried out on how education affects environmental stewardship, but one study suggests that a lower-secondary education (or approximately nine years) is necessary to intensify use of existing land and to provide alternative off-farm employment and migration from rural areas. Finally, a subtle combination of higher education, research, and life-long learning is necessary for a nation to shift to an information or knowledge-based economy, which is fueled less by imported technology and more by local innovation and creativity (UNESCO-ACEID, 1997).
Education directly affects sustainability plans in the following three areas:
Implementation. An educated citizenry is vital to implementing informed and sustainable development. In fact, a national sustainability plan can be enhanced or limited by the level of education attained by the nation's citizens. Nations with high illiteracy rates and unskilled workforces have fewer development options. For the most part, these nations are forced to buy energy and manufactured goods on the international market with hard currency. To acquire hard currency, these countries need international trade; usually this leads to exploitation of natural resources or conversion of lands from self-sufficient family-based farming to cash-crop agriculture. An educated workforce is key to moving beyond an extractive and agricultural economy.
Decision making. Good community-based decisions - which will affect social, economic, and environmental well-being - also depend on educated citizens. Development options, especially "greener" development options, expand as education increases. For example, a community with an abundance of skilled labor and technically trained people can persuade a corporation to locate a new information-technology and software-development facility nearby. Citizens can also act to protect their communities by analyzing reports and data that address community issues and helping shape a community response. For example, citizens who were concerned about water pollution reported in a nearby watershed started monitoring the water quality of local streams. Based on their data and information found on the World Wide Web, they fought against the development of a new golf-course, which would have used large amounts of fertilizer and herbicide in maintenance of the grounds.
Quality of life. Education is also central to improving quality of life. Education raises the economic status of families; it improves life conditions, lowers infant mortality, and improves the educational attainment of the next generation, thereby raising the next generation's chances for economic and social well-being. Improved education holds both individual and national implications.
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