Is there a sustainability canon?
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.
- 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