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Global Learning for Sustainable Development. Dr Fran Martin, University of Exeter Sustaining Geography Geographical Association Annual Conference University of Surrey 27 - 28 March 2008.

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Global Learning for Sustainable Development

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global learning for sustainable development

Global Learning for Sustainable Development

Dr Fran Martin, University of Exeter

Sustaining Geography

Geographical Association Annual Conference

University of Surrey

27 - 28 March 2008

“Education’s main contribution … should be to familiarise learners with perspectives other than their own”

(Professor Bill Scott, Centre for Environmental Education Research, University of Bath)

“When you come to us you are our honored guest. When I visit you, I am a resource”.

(African teacher on reciprocal visits, Tide 2007)

driving forces
Driving forces
  • Global Dimension across the school curriculum (DfEE/DfID 2005)
  • Sustainable Schools Framework (DfES, 2007,
  • Moral imperative
sd and the global dimension
SD and the global dimension
  • Sustainable Development, by its very nature, cannot be studied or practiced at a purely local level


  • Challenges of the future require learners to be familiar with perspectives other than their own

Values and perceptions

  • We are all learners because the future is uncertain

Uncertainty and precaution

current practice and teacher understanding
Current practice and teacher understanding
  • How do teachers understand development, diversity …
  • Whose perspectives?
  • Political, social, educational, environmental …
  • Western, Southern …
  • How can teachers be supported to mediate between competing demands?
changing educational context
Changing educational context?
  • Oxfam (2007) Building successful school partnerships. p.4 and p. 7 – the problem with charitable aims
  • DfID (2007) Partners in learning: A guide to successful global school partnerships. p.53 Charitable fundraising
  • QCA (2007) The Global Dimension in Action: A curriculum planning guide for schools. p.38 school link with Peru
study visits as cpd
Study visits as CPD
  • Tide study visit course ‘Learning together - teaching and learning, sustainable development and global partnership’ (
    • 3 days INSET Nov - Jan at Tide Centre, including some fieldwork around Birmingham
    • 7 days in The Gambia Feb 1/2 term
    • 2 days follow up back at Tide, March - April
focus of the course
Focus of the course
  • Teachers’ world views
  • The affect of these on knowledge and understanding of:
    • Sustainable development
    • Place (Gambia and UK: specifically Greater Banjul and West Midlands)
    • How we learn and therefore how we teach
    • Mutual learning / Global Partnerships
focus of research
Focus of research

The impact of a study visit course on teachers’ knowledge of sustainable development and global partnerships.

current knowledge
Current knowledge
  • Cultural ‘exposure’ not enough (Gain, 1985; Conle et. al. 2000)
  • Openess to other perspectives affected by
    • Construction of identity (Finney & Orr, 1995)
    • Construction of ‘other’ (Said, 1985)
    • Oversimplification and exoticisation (Graves, 2002)
  • Legacy of colonial discourse
research questions
Research questions
  • Can study visit courses prompt changes in perspective?
  • If so, what are the key factors that prompt this?
  • How does this learning impact on teachers’ subsequent practice
theoretical perspectives
Theoretical perspectives
  • Theoretical framework
    • Kolb’s experiential learning theory
    • Socio-cultural / socio-ecological theory
    • Positioning theory (identity & ‘othering’)
    • Displacement spaces
  • Gains in knowledge and understanding of:
  • Interdependence
  • Values and perceptions
  • Uncertainty and precaution
    • (quotes from participant interviews and evaluations)
  • That The Gambia is a ‘poor’ country
  • That aid is ‘good’
  • My personal beliefs about all charity being positive has been challenged. This was uncomfortable as it challenged my spiritual beliefs which are normally very secure
  • … it’s given me a lot more knowledge because we obviously came with assumptions and they’ve been challenged and ruled out in many situation so I think being here, being in this situation is really helping my learning
features of the course
Features of the course
  • The process of mutual (intercultural, collaborative) learning
  • A range of experiences that are emotional, physical and spiritual as well as intellectual (Embodied learning)
  • Displacement spaces that cause ‘disturbances’ and challenge world views
  • Regular, supported reflection, individually and in groups, on the discomfort of these experiences
impact on practice
Impact on practice?

I have new perspectives on some things which have changed the way I view the world and which strongly influence my behaviour and teaching.

We were doing a week’s activities with displays on Climate Change. This teacher had chosen to focus on Somalia and I stood in front of her display. She’d got all her children to do pieces of writing about it and I read the writing and I was absolutely appalled because … all this writing was about death and starvation.

… I read it and I thought this teacher has actually got at least six children in her class who are from Somalia so how were they thinking about their own country now? … It’s giving children a very skewed world view which we shouldn’t really be doing. We should be giving children the skills with which to make their own world view.

further reading
Further reading
  • Disney, A (2004) ‘Children’s Developing Images and Representations of the School Link Environment’ in Catling & Martin (eds) Researching Primary Geography. Register of Research in Primary Geography
  • Halstead and Pike (2006) Citizenship and Moral Education: Values in Action. Routledge
  • Mackintosh, M (2007) ‘Making Mistakes, Learning Lessons’ in Primary Geographer Spring 2007.
  • Martin, F (2005) ‘North-South Linking as a Controversial Issue’ in Prospero 14(4), 47-54
  • Martin, F (2007) ‘School Linking as a Controversial Issue’ in Claire & Holden (eds) The challenge of teaching controversial issues Trentham Books
  • Wood, S (2006) Learning from Linking’ in Tide~