Is there a sustainability canon?
- 105 Downloads
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.
KeywordsCore curriculum Higher education Sustainable development Universities Undergraduate Environmental education Disciplinary foundations
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
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.
- Birkeland, J. (2002). Design for sustainability: A sourcebook of integrated eco-logical solutions. London, UK: EarthscanGoogle Scholar
- Focht, W. (2003). Environmental curriculum perspectives: Preliminary report, Council of Environmental Deans and Directors Summer Conference, July 16–18 2003, Keystone, CO, Online: http://ncseonline.org/CEDD/MeetingsGoogle Scholar
- Klein, J. T. (1990). Interdisciplinarity: History, theory & practice. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University PressGoogle Scholar
- Orr, D. W. (1992). Ecological literacy: Education and the transition to a postmodern world. Albany, NY: State University of New York PressGoogle Scholar
- Sherren, K. (2005). Balancing the disciplines: A multidisciplinary perspective on sustainability curriculum content. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 21, 97–106Google Scholar
- Sherren, K. (in review). What’s in a name? Buyer beware in tertiary environmental qualifications. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management Google Scholar
- Sterling, S. (2001). Sustainable education: Re-visioning learning and change. Devon, UK: Green Books LtdGoogle Scholar
- Tilbury, D. (2004). Rising to the challenge: Education for sustainability in Australia. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 20, 103–114Google Scholar
- United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2004). Draft International Implementation Scheme for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO, Online: http://portal.unesco.org/educationGoogle Scholar
- University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF). (1990). Talloires Declaration, Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF), Online: http://www.ulsf.org/programs_talloires.html
- University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF). (1999). Sustainability assessment questionnaire, Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, Online: http://www.ulsf.org/programs_saq.html
- Whitley, R. (1984). The intellectual and social organisation of the sciences. Oxford, UK: Clarendon PressGoogle Scholar