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Education for Sustainable Development:. Comparing Institutional Initiatives. Vivian Neal, MET, PEng. In this session we will consider…. sustainable development and education for sustainable development initiatives at several universities

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education for sustainable development

Education for Sustainable Development:

Comparing Institutional Initiatives

Vivian Neal, MET, PEng

in this session we will consider

In this session wewill consider…

  • sustainable development and
  • education for sustainable development
  • initiatives at several universities
  • some ideas to help identify which initiatives could be more successful
learning outcome

Learning Outcome

  • You will be able to identify potential initiatives that could move ESD forward in meaningful and enduring ways at your institution.
sustainable development

Sustainable Development

  • meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.*
  • balancing environmental, social and economic factors
  • *Brundtland, G., Our Common Future, 1987
education for sustainable development1

Education for Sustainable Development

  • education that helps people understand the issues involved in planetary sustainability
  • relevant to the learner and their immediate surroundings
  • interdisciplinary, multi-methodological
education for sustainable development2

Education for Sustainable Development

  • experiential, participatory and collaborative
  • holistic, values-driven
  • concerned with the development of knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and behaviors
the esd challenge

“The real need is to change from transmissive towards transformative learning, but this in turn requires a transformed educational paradigm.”

  • “The mainstream emphasis on cognitive learning, with a little ‘values education’ thrown in, is simply insufficient to meet the challenge.”
  • Sterling, S., 2001 & 2011

The ESD Challenge

what kinds of initiatives create cultural change 4c model of esd

What kinds of initiativescreate cultural change?4C model of ESD*

  • *Centre for Sustainable Futures, 2008
examples of esd initiatives systematic and faculty champions

Simon Fraser University, Canada

    • Sustainability Office
  • University of Plymouth, UK,
    • Centre for Sustainable Futures
  • Tuft University, USA
    • Environmental Literacy Institute
  • Emory University, USA
    • Piedmont Project
  • University of Gloucestershire, UK
    • Sustainability Office and Greener by Degrees

Examples of ESD InitiativesSystematic and Faculty Champions

esd initiatives systematic approaches

ESD Initiatives:Systematic Approaches

  • Simon Fraser University
    • Sustainability Office with highest level support
    • also partnering with external bodies to produce cultural change
  • University of Gloucestershire
    • Sustainability Office – support for faculty in specific units
    • partnering with regional, national and international standards bodies
esd initiatives faculty champions formal

University of Plymouth, Centre for Sustainable Futures

    • national level funding for a four year Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Education for Sustainable Development
    • faculty time, various disciplines
    • focus on research and disseminating into practice within UoP and across the UK
    • now one faculty, and one part-time support person

ESD Initiatives:Faculty Champions – formal

esd initiatives faculty champions informal

ESD Initiatives:Faculty Champions - informal

  • Tuft University*
    • Environmental Literacy Institute– workshop
  • Emory University*
    • Piedmont Project – workshop
  • University of Gloucestershire
    • Greener by Degrees – workshop and publication
  • *Barlett P. & Rappaport, A., 2009

In triads, each describe one initiative at your institution

  • Is the approach:
    • systematic, faculty champion or other?
    • formal, informal or other?
  • What institutional characteristics have influenced the success of the initiative?


cultural change

Cultural Change

  • 4Cs – curriculum, campus, community, culture
  • engage faculty using the same experiential methods (to change attitudes, values and behaviors) that have the potential for transformative learning
  • communities of practice (Wenger et al., 2002)
some thoughts

Some Thoughts

  • each institution, department, discipline or faculty member works in a unique way
  • multiple and flexible approaches to supporting ESD
  • maybe not all cultural barriers can be overcome

Barlett, P. & Rappaport, A. (2009) Long term impacts of faculty development programs: The experience of Teli and Piedmont, College Teaching, 5(2) 73-82 Spr 2009.

  • Brundtland, G., (1987) Our common future: Report on the world commission on environment and development, UN.
  • Centre for Sustainable Futures (CSF) (2008) Sustainability policy (http//, accessed Sept 2012)
  • Sterling, S. (2012) The future fit framework: An introductory guide to teaching and learning for sustainability in HE, York UK:HEA
  • Sterling, S. (2011) Transformative learning and sustainability: sketching the conceptual ground, Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 5 17-33, 2011
  • Wenger, E., McDermott, R., and Snyder, W. (2002) Cultivating Communities of Practice, Boston MA:Harvard Business School Press




Vivian Neal, MET,