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Sustainability Pedagogies: What are they, and do they work?

Sustainability Pedagogies: What are they, and do they work?. Dr Debby Cotton University of Plymouth. http://www.flickr.com/photos/xotoko/2432861887/. HEFCE SD strategy and action plan

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Sustainability Pedagogies: What are they, and do they work?

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  1. Sustainability Pedagogies: What are they, and do they work? Dr Debby Cotton University of Plymouth http://www.flickr.com/photos/xotoko/2432861887/

  2. HEFCE SD strategy and action plan Amongst other things, the strategy seeks to encourage the sector to ‘develop curricula, pedagogy and extra-curricular activities that enable students to develop the values, skills and knowledge to contribute to sustainable development’ (HEFCE 2005)

  3. Sustainability has the potential to become ‘a gateway to a different view of curriculum, of pedagogy, of organisational change, of policy and particularly of ethos’ (Sterling, 2004)

  4. However research shows… ‘… a patchy picture with sustainable development being marginal or non-existent in some influential disciplines but increasingly higher profile in others’. (Dawe et al., 2005)

  5. Campus changes have proved more easily achievable than pedagogic reform http://www.flickr.com/photos/jiscinfonet/1203549686/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/jiscinfonet/1203558458/

  6. ‘[The HEFCE SD Strategy] is one of the most pernicious and dangerous circulars ever to be issued. It represents the final assault on the last remaining freedom of universities ... It is not the job of Universities to promote a particular political orthodoxy.’ (Knight, 2005) http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrtwism/40371169/

  7. What are Sustainability Pedagogies?

  8. Role plays and simulations • Group discussions • Stimulus activities • Debates • Critical incidents • Case Studies • Reflexive accounts • Personal Development Planning (PDP) • Critical reading and writing • Problem based learning http://www.flickr.com/photos/foundphotoslj/466713478/

  9. Why Adopt Different Teaching Methods? • “Often there are no hard facts, people are required to make value judgements about courses of action. Students need to be able to debate this area.” (ID103) • “To achieve deep commitment, deep experience has to take place, therefore role play and case studies are used.” (ID148) • “SD means human participation, so participatory processes and methods are an integral part of teaching and learning.” (ID118)

  10. Role plays and simulations Through role playing is the way forward … So I will often say “who thinks this is bad?” and invariably most of the group with think this and then I’ll flip their role … instead of leaving them with their preconceived idea. And at the end of that discussion see which one they think is going to get the public’s vote.’ (Lecturer in Marine Science)

  11. Group Discussions ‘I feel that education should equip young people to make up their own minds about their futures ... I think they get mixed messages, on the one hand they get the kind of Pepsi max society – it’s all possible, and on the other hand they possibly run into some surprising constraints if they choose to do other things … that’s why I think we need to keep an impartial position.’ (Lecturer in Media)

  12. Modelling good practice ‘I think at a personal level there is a huge amount we can do and I’ve always felt that you set an example, it’s not just what you say, it’s what you are. And if you stand up in front of a group of students and say ‘you should be going by public transport’ and every evening you go out to your car and drive home. Students are very perceptive, and they understand this.’ (Lecturer in Health)

  13. Conclusions • Interactive or student-centred pedagogies were identified as being more appropriate for teaching about sustainability • Tension identified between pedagogies recommended for ESD and those commonly encountered in HE • Unclear whether advocated teaching strategies are actual or aspirational. With large class sizes opportunities for putting such strategies into practice may be limited

  14. For further information, see .. • Cotton, D.R.E, Warren, M.F., Maiboroda, O. & Bailey, I. (2007) Sustainable Development, Higher Education and Pedagogy: A study of lecturers' beliefs and attitudes. Environmental Education Research 13 (5): 579-597 • Cotton, D., Bailey, I., Warren, M. & Bissell, S. (in press) Revolutions and second-best solutions: Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education. Studies in Higher Education. • Cotton, D.R.E & Winter, J. (forthcoming 2009) 'It's not just bits of paper and light bulbs': A review of sustainability pedagogies and their potential for use in Higher Education. In Green Infusions (Editors: Jones, P., Selby, D. & Sterling, S.)

  15. Or contact: Dr Debby Cotton Educational Development and Learning Technologies (EDaLT), University of Plymouth dcotton@plymouth.ac.uk

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