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Reorientation…. Towards sustainable education - Dr Stephen Sterling

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Presentation on theme: "Reorientation…. Towards sustainable education - Dr Stephen Sterling"— Presentation transcript:

1 Reorientation…. Towards sustainable education - Dr Stephen Sterling
Centre for Sustainable Futures University of Plymouth

2 Reorientation… 1 Context and perception
2 Challenge and ‘response-ability’ 3 Towards ‘sustainable education’ 4 Realising paradigms 5 Getting there…

3 Context and perception
Reorientation…part 1 Context and perception Getting the picture…

4 Where on Earth are we going..?!

5 The new conditions insecurities unsustainability uncertainty
dense interdependence stresses globalisation complexity ecosystem degradation inequity

6 Whole systems thinking
“When we limit ourselves to fragmented approaches to dealing with systemic problems, it is not surprising that our solutions prove inadequate. If our species is to survive the predicaments we have created for ourselves, we must develop a capacity for whole-systems thought and action.” - David Korten, 1995, 11

7 Mismatch ‘The world is a complex, interconnected,
finite, ecological-social-psychological-economic system. We treat it as if it were not, as if it were divisible, separable, simple, and infinite. Our persistent, intractable, global problems arise directly from this mismatch.’ - Donella Meadows, 1982

8 Seeing differently ….

9 ‘To live in the third millenium we shall need more than incremental improvements on our current rationality; we shall need new thinking joined with new ways of perceiving and visioning ourselves, others, nature and the world around us.’ - Ervin Laszlo 1997

10 Thinking differently ‘…proper understanding of the way the world works requires people to learn how to think systemically, holistically, integratively, and in a futures mode.’ Lester Milbrath ‘Envisioning a Sustainable Society’ New Thinking for a New Millenium, 1996

11 Challenge and ‘response - ability’
Reorientation… part 2 Challenge and ‘response - ability’ Why a change of educational culture?

12 The ability to respond…

13 ‘Daunting agenda…exciting possibilities’
Power civilisation by sunlight Grow food and fibre sustainably Dis-invent the concept of waste Preserve biodiversity Restore ruined ecologies Reduce materials, water and land use per head Rethink the political basis of modern societies Develop economies that can be sustained within nature’s limits Distribute wealth fairly within and between generations - Prof David Orr Nine challenges (

14 Re-learning This century may well be one of relearning on a grand scale… This learning…needs to be a core part of learning across society, necessitating a metamorphosis of many of our current education and learning constructs. - Sea Change –Learning and education for sustainability, NZ Parliamentary Commission for the Environment, 2004

15 Learning levels different levels and qualities of learning.

16 From accommodation to systemic change
‘The biggest challenge for educationalists is the proposition that education for sustainable development cannot simply be added onto existing learning, but requires a systemic change to the learning process and priorities in education’. - From Here to Sustainability The Real World Coalition, Earthscan, 2001

17 Metaphysics/cosmology
Levels of knowing Actions Ideas/theories Norms/assumptions Beliefs/values Paradigm/worldview Metaphysics/cosmology Actions Ideas/theories Norms/assumptions Beliefs/values Paradigm/worldview Metaphysics/cosmology

18 Levels of educational thinking
Practice Provision Policy Purpose Paradigm

19 Towards sustainable education
Reorientation… Part 3 Towards sustainable education How do we underpin a collaborative culture?

20 A different way of looking at education? Possible characteristics…
integrative/relational/holistic human-scale and participative learner-centred critical and systemic real-world and future oriented experiential values-based transformative

21 ‘Sustainable Education’
Does sustainability require: ‘Re-Visioning Learning and Change?

22 Sustainable education?
Sustaining - people, communities, ecosystems Tenable - ethically defensible, working with integrity, fairness, respect, inclusiveness Healthy - systems and subsystems I

23 World as machine or as living system?

24 Learning ‘as’ sustainability
Sustainable development values self-organisation development and conservation of potential resilience community Educational values autonomy capacity-building participation collaboration

25 Reorientation… Part 4 Realising paradigms
What are the implications for change?

26 Levels of educational thinking
Practice Provision Policy Purpose Paradigm

27 Rough paradigm map Educationalparadigm Positivist Critical; radical
Interpretivist; Constructivist Critical; radical Poststructural Participative Role of educator Instruction Facilitation Critical pedagogy/ ‘transformative intellectual’ Deconstruct- ion Mediation, mentoring/ ‘invitational’ leadership Curriculum Prescribed Constructivist; Learner centered Issues based Pluralist Indicative, emergent Pedagogy Delivery Transactional Critical pedagogy Deconstruc - tive Co-inquiry

28 Choose your metaparadigm…
Mechanism Objectivist Reductionist, dualistic   Reductive Ecology/living systems Participative Holistic, integrative Systemic Metaphor: Epistemology: Ontology: Methodology:

29 Choose your metaphor…. Mechanistic
view of education Reductionist view of knowledge Deficit view of learner Transmissive model of pedagogy Ecological (relational) view of education Holistic view of knowledge Appreciative view of learner Transactional or transformative view of pedagogy I

30 Choose your approach… Mechanistic Ecological instrumental values
prescriptive outputs and fixed outcomes control Ecological intrinsic values first indicative emergence and open outcomes participation I

31 Purposes of education Vocational - preparing for economic life
Socialisation - reproduction of culture, promotion of citizenship Liberal - developing individual’s potential Transformative - education for change, for a better world

32 ‘Where we are’ (dominant ideas)
Purpose - education as preparation for economic life Policy education as product (courses/qualifications) Practice - education as instruction

33 ‘Where we need to go’ (newer ideas)
Purpose - education for sustainable society, economy and ecology Policy education as process of individual and social capacity building Practice - education as participative learning

34 From control to participation
Overspecialisation and fragmentation Single issue management Top-down policy making Disciplinarity Goal oriented planning TOWARDS: More integrated structures Integrated decision-making Participative approaches Inter and trans disciplinarity Adaptive management

35 Shifts in curriculum, content and process
Curriculum as top-down ‘product’ Fixed knowledge Abstract knowledge Teaching/instruction Few learning styles Passive learning Curriculum as experience/situated learning Provisional knowledge Real world knowledge Participative learning Multiple learning styles Reflective/active learning .

36 Shifts in structures and policy
Disciplinarity Specialisation External assessment Teaching system Formal education Inter and transdisciplinarity Broadness and flexibility Continous internal assessment and reflection Learning system (As part of) life-long education

37 Towards sustainable institutions
Systemic coherence and synergy Human scale Open community Learning organisation Microcosm of sustainable society FROM Incoherence and fragmentation Large scale Closed community Teaching organisation Microcosm of unsustainable society .

38 Dimensions of change

39 Reorientation… Part 5 Getting there... Journeying with inspiration…

40 Significant change depends on...
a) A deeper critique - of current trends b) A broader vision - of necessary alternatives c) An effective strategy - of systemic change

41 Learning responses to the challenge of sustainability
No response - no change Accommodation - green ‘gloss’ Reformation - serious reform Transformation - whole system redesign

42 Different levels of engagement
Education about sustainability: content and/or estate emphasis. Fairly easily accommodated into existing system. Learning about change. Education for sustainability: values and skills emphasis. Greening of institutions. Deeper questioning and reform of purpose, policy and practice. Learning for change. Sustainable education: Capacity building and action emphasis. Sustainable institutions/communities. Learning as change.

43 Learning points from AFANet
Sustainability is imprecise. Integrating sustainability requires the re-thinking of institutional purposes. Sustainability is complex and multifaceted. Teaching it requires the transformation of mental models. Programming sustainability requires a rethinking of teaching and learning. There is no universal blueprint for educational change towards sustainability.

44 Two sorts of change Piecemeal change Systemic change
changing parts of a system no consideration of system as a whole often imposed often short-lived Systemic change change with effect on whole system in mind change with emergence in mind by purposeful, collaborative design often long-lived

45 Ingredients of systemic change
Endorsement from the top Inclusion Collaborative ethos Action research and feedback Encouraging reflection High levels of connectivity and communication ‘Champions’ and keenies Active alliances outside system Exemplars Leadership Channels and publicity to spread innovation Appreciative culture Resources/support Rewards AND…?

46 Designing fulfilling learning environments…eg.
reflective learning for individuals and the institution cooperation and shared purpose the enjoyment of learning service and creating opportunity for service treading lightly and living simply the intrinsic value of work of all kinds celebrating diversity recognising limitations a good experience for everyone - Schumacher College values

47 Sustainability values
Efficiency Sufficiency Equity and justice Community Diversity Inclusion Democracy Subsidiarity Self-reliance Participation Futurity and trusteeship Resilience and durability System health

48 Key dimensions Perceptual - ethos, values Conceptual Practical
- understanding Practical - design, action

49 Guiding principles Extension - inclusive boundaries Linking
- understanding connections Integration - towards systems health

50 Implement strategies eg…
Regarding what we do now: What is of value that we need to keep? What might need modification? What do we probably need to abandon? What new ideas, principles, methodologies, working methods, or policies are needed?

51 Reasons to be cheerful? HEFCE Policy Sustainable Development in HE
HEA research on ‘Embedding ESD’ and 5 yr programme Three ESD-related CETLs and network National networks: Forum’s HEPS, DEA, EAUC Education Commissioner - Sustainable Development Commission UN Decade of ESD International networks and agreements eg Global HE for Sustainability Partnership (GHESP), IAU

52 ‘Vision is absolutely necessary to guide and motivate action
‘Vision is absolutely necessary to guide and motivate action. More than that, vision, when widely shared and firmly kept in sight, brings into being new systems’. - Donella Meadows, Beyond the Limits to Growth, 1992

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