Reflections on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

LinkedIn posts

Asitha uses the LinkedIn platform for publishing posts on sustainability in higher education as well as Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

 

To access these posts, please visit:

http://sunewsinfo.wordpress.com/linkedin-posts/

 

SML-LIposts-141001

 

 

 

 

Fig-1404-poetry-bristol

Values play a key role in bringing about behaviour change appropriate for sustainability and poems have great potential to influence us to think deeply about our values and our relationship with the rest of nature. Here are ten unforgettable pieces of work with a sustainability orientation that I have come across…

 

Love Nature more

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
– Lord Byron

 

Trees and hearts

Alone with myself

The trees bend to caress me

The shade hugs my heart

– Candy Polgar

 

A poem and a tree

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree

– Joyce Kilmer

 

Felling trees….
Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky

We fell them down and turn them into paper

That we may record our emptiness

– Kahlil Gibran

 

Technology and Ecology

Modern technology

Owes ecology

An apology

– Alan M. Eddison

 

Nature’s children at play

Nature, with equal mind

Sees all her sons at play

Sees man control the wind

The wind sweep man away

– Matthew Arnold

 

Inviting his end…

Who leaves the pine-tree, leaves his friend,
Unnerves his strength, invites his end.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

A billboard and a tree

I think that I shall never see

A billboard lovely as a tree

Perhaps, unless the billboards fall

I’ll never see a tree at all

– Ogden Nash

 

Long live the weeds…

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
– Gerard Hopkins

 

A meaning to mind

Any man that walks the mead
In bud, or blade, or bloom, may find
A meaning suited to his mind.
– Alfred Tennyson

 

How about sharing sustainability-oriented poetry like this? I look forward to seeing your favourites….

 

NOTE

Photograph by Asitha Jayawardena (Gallery http://www.flickr.com/photos/aij3/)

 

 

 

 

The suite of Sustainable University websites: Sustainable University One-stop Shop | News and Information | Research | Good Practice | Quotes | Blog | Diary | Micro-blog (@sustainableuni1 on Twitter)

‘Sharing for a Sustainable World’ #SSW on http://twitter.com/sustainableuni1 & http://uk.linkedin.com/in/asithaj/

Fig1404-BalancingAct-140409

Perhaps sustainability, or sustainable development, could be considered as a balancing act. In fact, four of them:

  • Present and Future
  • People and Environment
  • Conservation and Development
  • Local and Global

 

Present and Future: This is the temporal dimension of sustainability, which frames sustainability with a focus on the future. Often, it gives room for excuses to put off pro-sustainability efforts. However, isn’t sustainability relevant in the present too, particularly with the extreme weather events that are increasing both in severity and frequency, knocking on the doors of the Global North as well as the Global South?

 

People and Environment: The environment receives priority over people when it comes to sustainability. Of course, the human world depends on the environment, as demonstrated in A game of plates at ‘Growth vs. Earth’ Café | Who depends on whom? However, what about the wellbeing of people? Should people be more central in sustainability agenda than they are today?

 

Conservation and Development: Closely linked to the previous balancing act between People and Environment, this is about environmental conversation and human development, which don’t co-exist very well. In sustainability discourse, conservation usually secures the centre stage, especially in the more economically developed Global North. The economically developing Global South prioritises development over conservation for obvious reasons. How to balance these two?

 

Local and Global: Sustainability is widely framed as a global crisis that requires global level solutions. That is could be considered as the spatial dimension of sustainability. However, isn’t the local dimension important? When local solutions tailor-made to respective local needs, aspirations and conditions are put together, could that form the basis for a one BIG global solution?

 

There are other balancing acts, such as Global North and Global South. Still others, such as Science and Culture, or Inner World and Outer World, are more relevant to education for sustainability (or ESD) rather than sustainability itself.

 

You’re most welcome to post other balancing acts as comments….

 

 


 

The suite of Sustainable University websites: Sustainable University One-stop Shop | News and Information | Research | Good Practice | Quotes | Blog | Diary | Micro-blog (@sustainableuni1 on Twitter)

‘Sharing for a Sustainable World’ #SSW on http://twitter.com/sustainableuni1 & http://uk.linkedin.com/in/asithaj/

SUdiary-plategameWho depends on whom? Humans on nature, or nature on humans?

I came across the best explanation, or rather illustration, when I was reading Education for Sustainability (EfS) at London South Bank University.

In the study guide on Science and Culture in EfS, a diagram on ‘Dependant relations of sustainability’, adapted from Wilden (1987), illustrated how humanity relates to the rest of nature.

Let’s visualise this framework as a stack of plates. At the bottom is Non-living Parts plate (e.g. sunlight, soil, rock, water, air, etc). On this lies the Plant World plate. On this we can find the Animal World plate. On this comes the Human World plate. On top of the human world, we have Human Constructions plate, such as society, economy and religion.

The rule of the game is this. If you remove a plate, all those above will be gone too but those below will remain intact. Perhaps you could try it over dinner (yes, it’s a plates game!) and see….

Image adapted from Wilden (1987) in Maiteny and Parker (2002)

Sources

Maiteny, P. and Parker, J. (2002) Unit 6 Study guide: Science and culture in education for sustainability. London: Distance Learning Centre, South Bank University.

Wilden, A. (1987) The rules are no game: the strategy of communication. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

 

The suite of Sustainable University websites: Sustainable University One-stop Shop, News and Information, Research, Good Practice, Quotes and Facts, Blog, Diary and Micro-blog (@sustainableuni1 on Twitter)

‘Sharing for a Sustainable World’ #SSW on http://twitter.com/sustainableuni1 & http://uk.linkedin.com/in/asithaj/

I was thinking about how to put the next diary post together when a US storm ‘derailed my train of thought’ at UCL! (I can’t remember who used this derailment statement originally).

It happened last Tuesday, i.e. the second day of the inaugural Annual Conference of The Environment Institute of University College London (UCL), titled ‘Responding to Environmental Complexity: A Showcase of UCL Research.’

In his keynote lecture on ‘Just sustainabilities: policy, planning and practice’, Professor Julian Agyeman, Professor and Chair, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP), Tufts University, stressed that social justice is part of sustainability. He said that we must achieve a good balance between environmental quality and human equality.

In a way this is not something totally new but he has attractively packaged it in ‘just sustainabilities’, or rather in his new book Introducing just sustainabilities: Policy, planning and practice. Besides he put forward the case for marrying environmental justice with ecological sustainability so eloquently that I thought I should briefly cover it here!

In fact his keynote took my memory back to the first module of the Education for Sustainability (EfS) programme at London South Bank University, i.e. Introduction to environmental and development education (the first module has recently been revised to Introducing EfS). In the simplest terms, EfS has its roots in these two strands of education that excessively focused on nature and people, respectively.

That’s not all. My other focus of interest – sustainability in higher education (SHE) – made a grand discovery on the same day. In his brief address of the conference closure, Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research), highlighted the need for universities to generate wisdom, not merely knowledge as is the usual case. That is, as the Progress Report 2010-2012 of UCL Grand Challenges (the mechanism that UCL uses to walk the talk) puts it, ‘….judicious application of knowledge for the good of humanity.’ This way, venturing out of the knowledge silos, UCL takes higher education to the midst of global society, striving to find solutions to complex issues that the latter is confronting.

More on this challenge to the conventional notion of a university will be covered in my Sustainable University Notes blog in the near future.

So, back to last week’s entry of the proper ESD Diary: Who is in charge? Nature or humans?

Hopefully, next post could consider this.

PS: This is why I selected this informal diary/blog format. Sustainability is complex and evolving, so unexpected discoveries and perspectives are unavoidable.

 

More…

A news post on the UCL Environment Institute conference

UCL Grand Challenges

An introduction to Introducing just sustainabilities: Policy, planning and practice

 

The suite of Sustainable University websites: Sustainable University One-stop Shop, News and Information, Research, Good Practice, Quotes, Blog, Diary and Micro-blog (@sustainableuni1 on Twitter)

Was it two years ago that some volcanic ash clouds paralysed major European airports, including Heathrow? To some it was well beyond belief. How on earth (or sky) could some ash dominate much more powerful flying machines of human ingenuity?  It seemed that humans are not in charge of air travel – let alone the Planet!

Some make sense of this experience like this. Mother Nature reminds her offspring that she is in charge, using a variety of means. For example, to ‘teach’ ‘her children’ at Heathrow, she tends to use either ash or snow.

But how could nature have the power to boss around us humans – the ingenious species?

This is a question that I had until I came across a framework on dependency relationships when I was reading Education for Sustainability at London South Bank University a couple of years ago. More on this next time…

The suite of Sustainable University websites: Sustainable University One-stop Shop, News and Information, Research, Good Practice, Quotes, Blog, Diary and Micro-blog (@sustainableuni1 on Twitter)

Where does sustainability begin? Or rather, what is the absolute starting point of the sustainability crisis that we are facing today?

Having thought about this for some time, I zeroed on Roy Rappaport’s law-meaning analysis. According to him, the greatest challenge that humanity would face would emerge from disconformities between nature’s laws and human-constructed meanings.

Further, he says that we humans live and can live only in terms of these meanings. For example, such a human-constructed meaning is that more consumption would simply lead to enhanced wellbeing. Or growth is development.

Conflict occurs when nature’s laws and human-constructed meanings are not compatible. Which one should tune to the other?

But before that, we should perhaps find out who is in charge. Nature or humans?

Note:

Rappaport, R.A. (1990) Ecosystems, populations and people In: Moran, E.F. (ed.) The ecosystem approach in anthropology. Ann   Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

 

The suite of Sustainable University websites: Sustainable University One-stop Shop, News and Information, Research, Good Practice, Quotes, Blog, Diary and Micro-blog (@sustainableuni1 on Twitter)

%d bloggers like this: