The Environmentalist

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 341–347 | Cite as

Is there a sustainability canon?

An exploration and aggregation of expert opinions
  • Kate Sherren


This paper identifies one possible set of appropriate disciplinary content for undergraduate programs in sustainability, based on a survey instrument employed at two international sustainability events in 2005. Undertaken to supplement the focus in the sustainability education literature on generic skills and pedagogical method via case-based or broadly conceptual work, it seeks to assist curriculum developers with planning disciplinary content. Findings indicate that a sustainability canon of sorts exists. A surprising amount of agreement existed from the two different specialist groups about core concepts, notably in ecology and—less unanimously—policy, economics and ethics. Studies about society were preferred as elective content. A 10-subject core was nominated, suggesting the need for broad foundational underpinnings.


Core curriculum Higher education Sustainable development Universities Undergraduate Environmental education Disciplinary foundations 


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The author wishes to thank the conference attendees in Hawaii and Halifax that responded to the questionnaire, and the Australian National University for the support to attend each meeting. Editing support from Stephen Dovers and Simon Couper and the suggestions of two anonymous reviewers are keenly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fenner School of Environment and SocietyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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