Seeing the wood for the trees: a heuristic framework to enable the integration of sustainability education in higher education settings

Date
2023-09-06
Authors
Gwilliam, Julie
Reeves, Andrew
Timuș, Natalia
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Taylor and Francis
Peer reviewed
Yes
Abstract
This paper puts forward a conceptual framework to support the dual challenges of strategic and practical integrative action of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) across Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). There are numerous existing resources and toolkits providing appropriate actions, guidance or approaches to monitor and measure ESD engagement. Our intended distinctive contribution in this paper is to complement these with heuristic ways of thinking that offer clarity on the context and evolution of progress on ESD at an institutional level. Our proposals were developed through structured comparative discussions by ESD practitioners from seven European universities, leading to a consensus view on key contextual influences across a range of environments, embodied in our proposed heuristic metaphors. The resulting proposed framework, built upon a systems-based visual metaphor of a forest ecosystem of HEIs, proposes the use of the dimensions of capacity and commitment, to define an integrative framework with four positional scenarios: ”Pockets of Practice”, “Emerging Agenda” to ”Integrated Impact” and “Off the Agenda”. To illustrate its application, it is used to contextualize relevant steps to progress ESD associated with each scenario in the areas of strategy, staff development, formal education and extra-curricular opportunities. We argue that the adoption of such a framework by HEI practitioners could support day-to-day decision-making and strategic planning towards an integrated approach to ESD that engages with all areas of university activity.
Description
open access article This work was developed from a European Universities Association Collaborative Enhancement Project, examining how environmental sustainability could be addressed in the curriculum for Higher Education Institutions. Project webpage: https://eua.eu/resources/publications/964:environmental-sustainability-of-learning-and-teaching.html
Keywords
Higher Education, Sustainability, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
Citation
Gwilliam, J., Reeves, A., and Timuș, N. (2023) Seeing the wood for the trees: a heuristic framework to enable the integration of sustainability education in higher education settings, Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 20 (1), 2250420
Research Institute
Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)