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Special Issue "Pedagogy for Education for Sustainability (EfS) in Higher Education (HE)"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 August 2013)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Ian Thomas (Website)

School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University, GPO Box 2476, Melbourne, 3001, Australia
Phone: +61 3 9925 3441
Interests: Education for Sustainability; environment careers; environment policy; environment management; organisational change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Education for Sustainability (EfS) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) have been under discussion for some two decades. Yet how this education can be effectively delivered to learners has been less well canvassed. This is especially the situation when considering EfS/ESD in Higher Education Institutions (HEI). Yet HEIs have the task of preparing graduates for professional employment, where they will be expected to apply their learning. As a consequence, the connections between the relevant theories and knowledge associated with EfS/ESD and their practical application are critical. Similarly, culture and praxis of a discipline are important as they will influence the way that the learning experiences are developed. Equally the competencies (or capabilities, skills) expected of graduates, by both the HEI and employers, will have a direct bearing on both the content of learning experiences and how they are presented to students. The role of values, and the role of the learner in assisting the goals of EfS/ESD are also considerations in the development of curriculum. More broadly all these considerations, and many others, are critical to the development of a science of teaching and learning for EfS/ESD. While we have seen examples of discussion of the content and direction of EfS/ESD in HEIs, discussion of the pedagogy of EfS/ESD is less evident.

This special issue seeks contributions from scholars and practitioners whose theoretical or practical works examine issues associated with the development and delivery of curriculum, to contribute to the emerging discussion around the pedagogy for EfS/ESD in HEIs.

Dr. Ian Thomas
Guest Editor

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).

Keywords

  • Education for Sustainability
  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • Higher Education Institutions
  • universities, learning and teaching
  • curriculum
  • pedagogy

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Special Issue—Pedagogy for Education for Sustainability in Higher Education
Sustainability 2014, 6(4), 1705-1708; doi:10.3390/su6041705
Received: 20 March 2014 / Accepted: 21 March 2014 / Published: 2 April 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (399 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Education for Sustainability (EfS) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) have been under discussion for some two decades. The UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development 2004–2014 has provided a most important focus for ESD, and for its facilitation. However, while the [...] Read more.
Education for Sustainability (EfS) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) have been under discussion for some two decades. The UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development 2004–2014 has provided a most important focus for ESD, and for its facilitation. However, while the Decade raised awareness of the need for ESD generally, and particularly in Higher Education, discussion of how this education can be effectively delivered to learners is still gaining momentum. This is especially the situation when considering EfS/ESD in Higher Education Institutions (HEI). [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle Education for Sustainability through a Photography Competition
Sustainability 2014, 6(2), 474-486; doi:10.3390/su6020474
Received: 6 November 2013 / Revised: 10 January 2014 / Accepted: 10 January 2014 / Published: 23 January 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (1217 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article describes the development and history of a sustainability photography competition. From its simple beginnings as an environmental officer’s idea, an environmental sustainability photography competition began in just one university. Now hosted by Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS), finalist entries are [...] Read more.
This article describes the development and history of a sustainability photography competition. From its simple beginnings as an environmental officer’s idea, an environmental sustainability photography competition began in just one university. Now hosted by Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS), finalist entries are viewed on a public website gaining international attention. A purpose of this article is to demonstrate the diversity of views of sustainability by displaying the winning entries from 2013 and 2012. It is anticipated that readers may replicate these ideas in creative arts and across disciplines throughout primary, secondary and other higher education institutions, community groups and diverse organizations. Full article
Open AccessArticle Transformative Learning for a Sustainable Future: An Exploration of Pedagogies for Change at an Alternative College
Sustainability 2013, 5(12), 5347-5372; doi:10.3390/su5125347
Received: 9 September 2013 / Revised: 16 November 2013 / Accepted: 25 November 2013 / Published: 12 December 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (706 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Educators and policy makers have long recognised the central role that education can play in creating a more sustainable and equitable world. Yet some question whether current processes across mainstream higher education prepare learners sufficiently to graduate with the capabilities or motivation [...] Read more.
Educators and policy makers have long recognised the central role that education can play in creating a more sustainable and equitable world. Yet some question whether current processes across mainstream higher education prepare learners sufficiently to graduate with the capabilities or motivation to shape and create a future that is life-sustaining. This paper presents findings from a qualitative research project carried out by Plymouth University in association with Schumacher College, Devon, UK. Schumacher College is an alternative, civil society college, owned by the Dartington Hall Trust that claims to provide transformative learning opportunities within a broad context of sustainability. The study explored the nature and application of transformative learning as a pedagogical approach to advance change towards sustainability. If learners claimed transformational learning experiences, the research asked whether, and to what extent, this transformation could be attributed to the pedagogies employed at the College. The paper begins by setting out the broad background to the relationship between marginal and mainstream educational settings, and definitions and theoretical underpinnings of transformative learning, and then leads into the research design and findings. The potential for transformative pedagogies to be applied to and employed within the wider higher education (HE) sector is then discussed, and the overall findings and conclusions are presented. Full article
Open AccessArticle Developing Engineering Students’ Understanding of Sustainability Using Project Based Learning
Sustainability 2013, 5(12), 5052-5066; doi:10.3390/su5125052
Received: 18 September 2013 / Revised: 18 November 2013 / Accepted: 21 November 2013 / Published: 28 November 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (704 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Project based learning (PjBL) can be an effective approach to developing graduate attributes, but it depends on how it is implemented. Chemical Engineering of RMIT University has a stream of PjBL subjects from first to final year. The projects are incrementally more [...] Read more.
Project based learning (PjBL) can be an effective approach to developing graduate attributes, but it depends on how it is implemented. Chemical Engineering of RMIT University has a stream of PjBL subjects from first to final year. The projects are incrementally more complex but have the same goal: to choose a best process design, using management decision making tools to justify their choices. The tools include GEMI Metrics NavigatorTM. This paper reports an evaluation of whether students’ understanding of sustainability is enhanced by undertaking multiple projects, as well as use of sophisticated analysis tools. Student learning outcomes from intermediate and final subjects were compared using ConceptMaps and a focus group. The students’ understanding of sustainability increased substantially from 2nd to final year, similar to results reported in European studies. The spread of results was broad, attributed to range of student ability and differences between student cohorts. Development of understanding of sustainability was attributed to undertaking multiple projects and use of spread-sheeting tools. Use of the GEMI tool was identified as facilitating application of sustainability principles to process design decisions. Concept maps are a useful way to evaluate innovations in teaching sustainable engineering. Full article
Open AccessArticle Teachers’ Competencies for the Implementation of Educational Offers in the Field of Education for Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2013, 5(12), 5067-5080; doi:10.3390/su5125067
Received: 27 September 2013 / Revised: 19 November 2013 / Accepted: 20 November 2013 / Published: 28 November 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (770 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The term of education is an integral part of any programmatic political document on sustainable development. This fact underlines the significance that is assigned to education in the context of sustainable development. It leads to the question of what competencies teachers need [...] Read more.
The term of education is an integral part of any programmatic political document on sustainable development. This fact underlines the significance that is assigned to education in the context of sustainable development. It leads to the question of what competencies teachers need in order to develop and implement educational offers in the field of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) so that they can aspire to and attain specific educational goals with their students. This touches on the question of the building of corresponding competencies in teacher education and further education. So far, few attempts have been made to describe teachers’ competencies regarding ESD and to develop corresponding competence models. The following article presents two models—Curriculum, Sustainable Development, Competences, Teacher Training (CSCT Model) and Learning for the future: The Competences in Education for Sustainable Development (ECE Model)—and discusses their benefit for teacher education and further education. These models differ in how broadly they define ESD and in what audiences they target at. This comparison shows and explains why competence models should focus on profession-specific core competencies if they are to be used as a basis for the conception of educational offers in the field of ESD in education and further education of teachers. The drawn conclusion consists in initial considerations for the conception of another competence model. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Role of Transacademic Interface Managers in Transformational Sustainability Research and Education
Sustainability 2013, 5(11), 4614-4636; doi:10.3390/su5114614
Received: 16 September 2013 / Revised: 22 October 2013 / Accepted: 23 October 2013 / Published: 30 October 2013
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (682 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Working towards sustainable solutions requires involving professionals and stakeholders from all sectors of society into research and teaching. This often presents a challenge to scholars at universities, as they lack capacity and time needed for negotiating different agendas, languages, competencies, and cultures [...] Read more.
Working towards sustainable solutions requires involving professionals and stakeholders from all sectors of society into research and teaching. This often presents a challenge to scholars at universities, as they lack capacity and time needed for negotiating different agendas, languages, competencies, and cultures among faculty, students, and stakeholders. Management approaches and quality criteria have been developed to cope with this challenge, including concepts of boundary organizations, transdisciplinary research, transition management, and interface management. However, few of these concepts present comprehensive proposals how to facilitate research with stakeholder participation while creating educational opportunities along the lifecycle of a project. The article focuses on the position of a transacademic interface manager (TIM) supporting participatory sustainability research and education efforts. We conceptualize the task portfolio of a TIM; outline the capacities a TIM needs to possess in order to successfully operate; and propose an educational approach for how to train students in becoming a TIM. For this, we review the existing literature on TIMs and present insights from empirical sustainability research and educational projects that involved TIMs in different functions. The article provides practical guidance to universities on how to organize these critical endeavors more effectively and to offer students an additional career perspective. Full article
Open AccessArticle Pedagogies to Achieve Sustainability Learning Outcomes in Civil and Environmental Engineering Students
Sustainability 2013, 5(10), 4479-4501; doi:10.3390/su5104479
Received: 1 September 2013 / Revised: 1 October 2013 / Accepted: 9 October 2013 / Published: 21 October 2013
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (829 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The civil and environmental engineering disciplines have identified the levels of knowledge about sustainability that are desirable for students to achieve as they graduate with a bachelor’s degree, as well as sustainability-related competencies to be obtained during a master’s degree, and on-the-job, [...] Read more.
The civil and environmental engineering disciplines have identified the levels of knowledge about sustainability that are desirable for students to achieve as they graduate with a bachelor’s degree, as well as sustainability-related competencies to be obtained during a master’s degree, and on-the-job, prior to professional licensure. Different pedagogies are better suited to help students attain these levels of cognitive ability, while also developing affective outcomes. This paper provides examples of different methods that have been used at one institution to educate engineering students about sustainability, supported with data that indicates whether the method successfully achieved the targeted learning outcomes. Lectures, in-class active learning, readings, and appropriately targeted homework assignments can achieve basic sustainability knowledge and comprehension by requiring students to define, identify, and explain aspects of sustainability. Case studies and the application of software tools are good methods to achieve application and analysis competencies. Project-based learning (PBL) and project-based service-learning (PBSL) design projects can reach the synthesis level and may also develop affective outcomes related to sustainability. The results provide examples that may apply to a wider range of disciplines and suggest sustainability outcomes that are particularly difficult to teach and/or assess. Full article
Open AccessArticle Adding the “e-” to Learning for Sustainable Development: Challenges and Innovation
Sustainability 2013, 5(6), 2609-2622; doi:10.3390/su5062609
Received: 6 May 2013 / Revised: 4 June 2013 / Accepted: 5 June 2013 / Published: 13 June 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (643 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Education for sustainability (EfS) poses new challenges to higher education as it necessitates various shifts: from teacher- to learner-centered pedagogies, from input- to output-orientation and from a focus on content to problem-solving and process orientation. E-learning, which follows the principles of situated, [...] Read more.
Education for sustainability (EfS) poses new challenges to higher education as it necessitates various shifts: from teacher- to learner-centered pedagogies, from input- to output-orientation and from a focus on content to problem-solving and process orientation. E-learning, which follows the principles of situated, constructivist learning, addresses some of these challenges and offers opportunities to design powerful learning environments for EfS. In this conceptual paper, we elaborate characteristics of such e-learning environments that support competence development and education for sustainability. To illustrate and support our line of reasoning we use three mini case studies of our own educational praxis and critically discuss opportunities and threats of such e-learning settings. Full article

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