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Sustainability 2013, 5(4), 1522-1544; doi:10.3390/su5041522

Divergent Evolution in Education for Sustainable Development Policy in the United Kingdom: Current Status, Best Practice, and Opportunities for the Future

1
Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY, UK
2
UNESCO Centre, School of Education, University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, BT52 1SA, UK
3
Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ, UK
4
Faculty of Education and Social Sciences, University of Wales, Caerleon Campus, Newport, NP18 3YG, UK
5
Centre for Research in Education and the Environment, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 January 2013 / Revised: 23 March 2013 / Accepted: 27 March 2013 / Published: 11 April 2013
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Abstract

This paper discusses the current status of all aspects of education for sustainable development (ESD) across the United Kingdom (UK), drawing on evidence from its political jurisdictions (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), and setting out some characteristics of best practice. The paper analyzes current barriers to progress, and outlines future opportunities for enhancing the core role of education and learning in the pursuit of a more sustainable future. Although effective ESD exists at all levels, and in most learning contexts across the UK, with good teaching and enhanced learner outcomes, the authors argue that a wider adoption of ESD would result from the development of a strategic framework which puts it at the core of the education policy agenda in every jurisdiction. This would provide much needed coherence, direction and impetus to existing initiatives, scale up and build on existing good practice, and prevent unnecessary duplication of effort and resources. The absence of an overarching UK strategy for sustainable development that sets out a clear vision about the contribution learning can make to its goals is a major barrier to progress. This strategy needs to be coupled with the establishment of a pan-UK forum for overseeing the promotion, implementation and evaluation of ESD.
Keywords: UNESCO; UN Decade (UNDESD); UK; sustainable development; ESD; education policy UNESCO; UN Decade (UNDESD); UK; sustainable development; ESD; education policy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Martin, S.; Dillon, J.; Higgins, P.; Peters, C.; Scott, W. Divergent Evolution in Education for Sustainable Development Policy in the United Kingdom: Current Status, Best Practice, and Opportunities for the Future. Sustainability 2013, 5, 1522-1544.

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