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Special Issue "Sustainability Approaches in Education"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainability Education and Approaches".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2014)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Ian Thomas

School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University, GPO Box 2476, Melbourne, 3001, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +61 3 9925 3441
Interests: Education for Sustainability; environment careers; environment policy; environment management; organisational change
Guest Editor
Dr. Sarah Holdsworth

Lecturer, School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University, 78 Roseneath St. Clifton Hill Vic 3068, Australia
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Education for Sustainability (EfS) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) are now well recognized educational approaches to be found in pre-schools, schools, higher education, and within the community. With over two decades of practice in EfS/ESD there is much experience to share, and much for EfS/ESD practitioners to learn.

There has been ample discussion about the need for EfS/ESD across all areas of education. Equally, there are many proposals, based on theory and academic discussion, on how EfS/ESD could (or should) be implemented. We are now in the position where we seldom need to justify EfS/ESD. However, to encourage its implementation, and especially implementing best practices, we still have much to learn.

Through this Special Issue "Sustainability Approaches in Education" we aim to encourage the exchange of experience and insights concerning EfS/ESD to facilitate the expansion of best practice approaches in a broad range of educational areas. From reflection on the implementation of EfS/ESD, we can see what works well, what has not been all that successful, and thereby what can be learned from our experiences. Specifically we seek contributions from scholars and practitioners in relation to:

Research related to the implementation of Education for Sustainability and Education for Sustainable Development.

Reports on current practices in Education for Sustainability and Education for Sustainable Development, showing how research and/or relevant literature has shaped the practice, together with analyses and reflection on the practice being discussed.

Dr. Ian Thomas
Dr. Sarah Holdsworth
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).


Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Sustainable Education: Exploiting Students’ Energy for Learning as a Renewable Resource
Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5471-5487; doi:10.3390/su7055471
Received: 6 November 2014 / Revised: 20 April 2015 / Accepted: 29 April 2015 / Published: 5 May 2015
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Abstract
In this article, “sustainable education” is reconceptualized, drawing on the insight that education runs on the energy of students, teachers and all other stakeholders involved. Sustainable education systems are defined as systems in which students’ natural energy for learning is renewed (rather than
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In this article, “sustainable education” is reconceptualized, drawing on the insight that education runs on the energy of students, teachers and all other stakeholders involved. Sustainable education systems are defined as systems in which students’ natural energy for learning is renewed (rather than depleted) and no talent gets wasted. Students’ energy for learning is geared towards the acquisition of crucial competences for the 21st century (including the competence to make their own lives work and to make life on the planet work), which they can deploy and further develop on a long-term, sustainable basis. For this to happen, education systems need to be built upon strong, up-to-date curricula and to design classroom activity based on cutting-edge knowledge on what drives human learning. To this end, school teams’ joint energy for educating needs to be tapped and renewed, and assessment needs to be primarily used to further improve the quality of education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Approaches in Education)
Open AccessArticle Research-Based Transformative Science/STEM/STES/STESEP Education for “Sustainability Thinking”: From Teaching to “Know” to Learning to “Think”
Sustainability 2015, 7(4), 4474-4491; doi:10.3390/su7044474
Received: 1 December 2014 / Revised: 7 April 2015 / Accepted: 8 April 2015 / Published: 16 April 2015
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Abstract
Sustainability is conceptualized, approached and acted upon differently by people, sectors, societies, nations and educational systems. Consequently, the “sustainability thinking”-related scientific, technological, environmental, societal, economic and policy/political components are expected to transform differently. The related necessary transformative paradigm shifts in science, technology, environment,
[...] Read more.
Sustainability is conceptualized, approached and acted upon differently by people, sectors, societies, nations and educational systems. Consequently, the “sustainability thinking”-related scientific, technological, environmental, societal, economic and policy/political components are expected to transform differently. The related necessary transformative paradigm shifts in science, technology, environment, society, economy and policy (STESEP)—education from the contemporary disciplinary science, technology and environmental teaching to “know”—to transdisciplinary learning to “think” are to be expected. The overriding purpose: ensuring “sustainability thinking” by responsible, capable “STESEP literate” citizens. Consequently, “sustainability thinking” in the STESEP interfaces contexts, requires (1) the development of students’ higher-order cognitive skills (HOCS) via a transformative/transdisciplinary “STESEP Education”; (2) a research-based shift from the conventional algorithmic lower-order cognitive skills (LOCS)-based teaching to “know”, to “HOCS learning” to “think”; and (3) a special focus on HOCS-promoting teaching, assessment and learning strategies in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, environment, society and education. A pre-post research design of system thinking, evaluative thinking, and decision making capabilities of 10 grade high school, undergraduate and graduate students, in Israel, are presented and discussed in the learning for “sustainability thinking” context. In conclusion: contemporary science education in secondary and tertiary levels is mainly, disciplinary (biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics) in science, technology and engineering courses. The LOCS-to-HOCS paradigm shift still constitutes a major issue of concern, with respect to ensuring a transformative science/STESEP education, targeting “sustainability thinking” in secondary and tertiary education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Approaches in Education)
Open AccessArticle Competencies in Education for Sustainable Development: Exploring the Student Teachers’ Views
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 2768-2786; doi:10.3390/su7032768
Received: 10 November 2014 / Revised: 27 February 2015 / Accepted: 27 February 2015 / Published: 6 March 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (694 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the context of higher education, over 100 universities have signed international declarations and have committed to embed sustainability within their operations, outreach, education and research. However, despite the declaration of good intentions and policy developments at the national, regional and international level,
[...] Read more.
In the context of higher education, over 100 universities have signed international declarations and have committed to embed sustainability within their operations, outreach, education and research. However, despite the declaration of good intentions and policy developments at the national, regional and international level, little has been achieved in terms of embedding education for sustainable development holistically in the curriculum. To date, a number of research studies have focused on the perceptions and views of university students in relation to sustainable development knowledge, skills and competencies; however, few studies have focused on student teachers’ perceptions of education for sustainable development. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions and views of a group of thirty-two student teachers in relation to education for sustainable development competencies. The research instrument used was a questionnaire. This study provides evidence on the education for sustainable development (ESD) competencies that student teachers would prioritize in a school project related to ESD: acquisition of knowledge and practical skills related to nature and natural sciences, to the detriment of other types of learning, such as the promotion of ethical values, positive attitudes towards sustainability and the management of emotions among their future primary school students. Existing ESD theoretical frameworks need to become more alive and integrated within the existing teacher education curriculum to promote the awareness and development of ESD competencies amongst student teachers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Approaches in Education)
Open AccessArticle Evaluation of an Educational Model Based on the Development of Sustainable Competencies in Basic Teacher Training in Spain
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 2603-2622; doi:10.3390/su7032603
Received: 12 December 2014 / Revised: 25 February 2015 / Accepted: 25 February 2015 / Published: 3 March 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (788 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The environmental deterioration of the planet, caused by unsustainable development and an unfair model, requires global change on a political, social and environmental level. To boost this change, it is necessary to redirect education and, specifically, environmental education, to educate citizens so that
[...] Read more.
The environmental deterioration of the planet, caused by unsustainable development and an unfair model, requires global change on a political, social and environmental level. To boost this change, it is necessary to redirect education and, specifically, environmental education, to educate citizens so that they are capable of making responsible decisions and behaving sustainably. The purpose of this study is to evaluate an educational teacher training model based on the development of sustainable competencies and on the solving of environmental problems. Its final aim is to search for a model that enables students to participate, individually and collectively, in the solution of socio-environmental problems in their surroundings, but without losing the global perspective, and that fosters sustainable life styles. To do so, a quasi-experimental quantitative research was performed with two pretest-posttest phases to compare the results of an active and participative methodology with another more expository one. The results show significant differences in the knowledge, attitudes and intention of the behavior of the aspiring teachers. Thus, this first analysis shows that the experiential educational model promotes and favors sustainable actions in higher education (the faculty of educational science, responsible for basic teacher training) more efficiently and could be the basis for future proposals in this field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Approaches in Education)
Open AccessArticle Sustainability Education in Massive Open Online Courses: A Content Analysis Approach
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 2274-2300; doi:10.3390/su7032274
Received: 28 November 2014 / Revised: 12 February 2015 / Accepted: 13 February 2015 / Published: 25 February 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (437 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to investigate the current status of sustainability education in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Sample MOOCs were searched for from seven popular platforms and three search engines. After screening, 51 courses were identified as the final sample.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the current status of sustainability education in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Sample MOOCs were searched for from seven popular platforms and three search engines. After screening, 51 courses were identified as the final sample. Course description, content outlines, reading materials, recommended textbooks and discussion threads were coded to obtain insights into sustainability education learning contents, pedagogical methods, and interaction situations. Results indicated that: (1) Edx and Coursera are platforms that incorporated the most sustainability-related courses, and most instructors were senior academics with the title of professor. American and European countries outperformed other English speaking countries as early birds in sustainability education using MOOCs. The average course length of our MOOC samples is 7.6 weeks, which is much shorter than a typical face-to-face college course; (2) Current MOOCs provided mainly introductory-level courses without prerequisites. Fourteen sustainability-related hot topics and five most popular textbooks were identified; (3) The pedagogical means used most frequently were discussion forums and lecture videos, while pedagogies such as team-based learning were not used to a large extent; (4) Learner interaction flourished in MOOCs, and sub-forums regarding Lecture Reflection, Welcome and Introduction were posted with most threads, replies, and votes. Our findings suggest that the MOOC is an innovative method in sustainability education and research. A variety of information and strategies could be used when preparing sustainability-related MOOCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Approaches in Education)
Open AccessArticle The Potential of Non-Formal Laboratory Environments for Innovating the Chemistry Curriculum and Promoting Secondary School Level Students Education for Sustainability
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1798-1818; doi:10.3390/su7021798
Received: 1 December 2014 / Accepted: 3 February 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (918 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Developing skills and attitudes among students in terms of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) requires that educators address issues of sustainability in both formal and non-formal education. However, up to now, ESD seems to have been insufficiently implemented in secondary science education in
[...] Read more.
Developing skills and attitudes among students in terms of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) requires that educators address issues of sustainability in both formal and non-formal education. However, up to now, ESD seems to have been insufficiently implemented in secondary science education in many countries in general, and in high school chemistry learning in particular. A lack of suitable experiments, coupled with missing teaching and learning materials and insufficient teacher professional development have been identified as the reasons for this gap. This paper describes a project of innovation and research in the field of ESD for secondary school chemistry education. Within the project, both half- and full-day learning environments have been developed for non-formal, laboratory-based learning of secondary level students at the university. The research-based development focuses on teaching-learning modules which link formal and non-formal learning. The pedagogy employed is both learner-centered and inquiry-based. All the modules focus on sustainability issues in chemistry-related contexts. Data was collected by questionnaires from teachers and students both prior to and after the visit of the non-formal learning environment. Likert-items were analyzed statistically and the evaluation of the open-ended questions was done by Qualitative Content Analysis. An overview of the project, a case from the non-formal laboratory setting, and findings from accompanying research and evaluation are discussed in this paper. Potential impacts on teacher professional development and curriculum innovation are also outlined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Approaches in Education)
Open AccessArticle Teaching Interdisciplinary Sustainability Science Teamwork Skills to Graduate Students Using In-Person and Web-Based Interactions
Sustainability 2014, 6(12), 9428-9440; doi:10.3390/su6129428
Received: 27 August 2014 / Revised: 8 December 2014 / Accepted: 10 December 2014 / Published: 17 December 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (687 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Interdisciplinary sustainability science teamwork skills are essential for addressing the world’s most pressing and complex sustainability problems, which inherently have social, natural, and engineering science dimensions. Further, because sustainability science problems exist at global scales, interdisciplinary science teams will need to consist of
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Interdisciplinary sustainability science teamwork skills are essential for addressing the world’s most pressing and complex sustainability problems, which inherently have social, natural, and engineering science dimensions. Further, because sustainability science problems exist at global scales, interdisciplinary science teams will need to consist of international members who communicate and work together effectively. Students trained in international interdisciplinary science skills will be able to hit the ground running when they obtain jobs requiring them to tackle sustainability problems. While many universities now have sustainability science programs, few offer courses that are interdisciplinary and international in scope. In the fall semester of 2013, we piloted a course for graduate students entitled “Principles of Interdisciplinary Sustainability Research” at Michigan Technological University. This course was part of our United States National Science Foundation Partnerships in International Research and Education project on bioenergy development impacts across the Americas. In this case study, we describe the course development and implementation, share critical insights from our experience teaching the course and student learning outcomes, and give recommendations for future similar courses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Approaches in Education)
Open AccessArticle Metaphors of Nature and Economic Development: Critical Education for Sustainable Business
Sustainability 2014, 6(11), 7496-7513; doi:10.3390/su6117496
Received: 4 August 2014 / Revised: 17 October 2014 / Accepted: 20 October 2014 / Published: 24 October 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (702 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Neoliberal discourse often conceptualizes nature in relation to its market utility and economic development. This article will address the role of metaphors in shaping neoliberal discourse in business education. The aim of this article is to reveal reasoning patterns about environmental problems and
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Neoliberal discourse often conceptualizes nature in relation to its market utility and economic development. This article will address the role of metaphors in shaping neoliberal discourse in business education. The aim of this article is to reveal reasoning patterns about environmental problems and economic development in students of sustainable business minor. The case study described in this article involves business students at The Hague University in The Netherlands. This case study aimed to explore a shift in student understanding of environmental problems and economic development before and after the intervention. The results suggest that critical curriculum can inform students about the alternative conceptions as well as instruct them about potential solutions to the sustainability challenges. The article culminates with the argument that without goal-oriented education for sustainability; neoliberal education may not permit transcendence from unsustainable practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Approaches in Education)

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