Sustainable Development in the Curriculum

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					Sustainable Development in
      the Curriculum
           Pauline Ridley
   Centre for Learning & Teaching
Kingston University enquiry (Dawe et al 2003) into
Sustainability in the Curriculum:

Two-thirds of staff identified barriers to inclusion of more
sustainability-related teaching. Five main reasons
(interviewees were allowed to choose more than one):
 – existing curriculum overload (16%)
 – perceived irrelevance of sustainability issues to focus of
    curriculum (16%)
 – benchmark requirements of accreditation bodies (12%)
 – lack of immediate staff expertise (11%)
 – anticipated irrelevance by students/ inability of students to
    grasp issues (10%).
3 domains + fourth (intergenerational) dimension:
„Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable – to ensure that it
meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs.‟
Our Common Future (The Brundtland Report) – Report of the 1987 World Commission on
Environment and Development
"... the crucial lesson about how we have ended up with
unsustainable development [is that] it is pursuing our
economic, social and environmental goals
separately that has resulted in repeated trade offs
between goals. Sustainable development is about
progressing them together.

We are not in the habit of thinking about the economy,
the sort of society we would like, or the sort of
environment we would like to live in at the same time. In
higher education institutions, each is taught as different
subjects, in different departments." (emphasis added)

(Forum for the Future: Learning and skills for sustainable
development: developing a sustainability literate society)
             Education for SD
• Not just about adding in some appropriate topics about
  one or other aspect of SD
• Addressing the economic/ social/ environmental domains
  „at the same time‟ is tougher than engaging with single
  issue campaigns – need to think in complex, multi-
  dimensional, multi-disciplinary ways
• But challenging problems and complex thinking skills are
  what we want for our students
• Need for interdisciplinary projects based on real world
  (local) problems – starting with the UoB‟s own
  environmental, social and economic impact.....
                HEA Subject Centres
•   18 SCs took part in pilot review of SD in the curriculum, to identify relevant work,
    share ideas and plans (For links, see CLT website ) eg:

•   Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies
      – Overview and case studies eg 'The Greening of Germany' students focus on
         the subject of 'rubbish' as a cultural, intercultural, linguistic and historical
•   Economics: Key concepts in economics for SD
•   Computing: hardware/:longevity /efficiency; SD problems in teaching programming,
    data structures; networks and distributed systems; professionalism and ethics;
    “Information Systems has many analogies to the systems approach to SD”
•   English – impact of eco-criticism (study of the relationship between literature and the
    physical environment , philosophy, pastoral genre

•   Law “The skills needed to deliver sustainable development are generic, but .. the law
    curriculum is particularly well suited to their development since they include critical
    thinking, strong communication skills, negotiation and consensus building, the ability
    to design a strategic vision, and conflict resolution. It is not the case therefore that
    ESD will add to an already demanding curriculum - it offers a different lens through
    which to view the application and practice of law and legal principles.”
   ESCALATE (SC for Education)
Brighton bid:
• to identify, share and encourage the uptake of
  successful models and strategies for embedding
  sustainable development in the HE curriculum

• “In introducing sustainability into the curriculum, it is
  essential that students engage critically and explore
  moral and ethical dilemmas, to ensure students develop
  learning strategies that involve problem-solving, deep
  learning, metacognition, embedding in other work (e.g. in
  the personal development planning process), and that
  students carry their learning beyond the university
  curriculum into work and life.”