ERG SES D 07, Research in Education
Sustainable Development (SD) is often considered as a concept based on three dimensions namely the environment, the economy and the society (Summers and Childs 2007; Walshe 2008; Berglund, Gericke, Rundgren, 2012; Borg, Gericke, Höglund & Bergman, 2014). The object of the current paper lies on the content of Sustainable Development issues dealt within the context of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The paper focuses on the conceptual understanding that scholars in the field of ESD hold of sustainable development issues. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to lead to a consensus definition among scholars, on which future directions of the training of teachers can be built. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to explore how academic staff in the field of ESD conceive the concept of Sustainable Development in education. Currently, we are in the process of collecting the participants’ responses.
A holistic approach to ESD, which takes into account all the three dimensions of SD, is often deemed to be important (see for example Summers & Childs 2007); it enables us to consider SD as a unit of its components (Olsson, Gericke & Rundgren, 2015) and to understand better the aspects of SD issues that are related to its three dimensions (Berglund & Gericke, 2015). Berglund & Gericke (2015) consider approaching the three dimensions either separate from each other or integrated. The integrated approach reveals the contradictions among the dimensions as we treat SD issues from several conflicting perspectives. Eventually, this permits us to decide which aspects of the issues are more important and to reach a final decision on how to deal with them (Berglund & Gericke, 2015).
Both approaches to the concept of SD and sustainability have encountered difficulties on the part on students and teachers in understanding the interrelation among the three dimensions (Summers and Childs 2007; Walshe 2008). Recent research has also traced a lack of holistic understanding of SD (Borg, Gericke, Höglund & Bergman, 2014; Boeve-de Pauw, Gericke, Olsson & Berglund, 2015). Borg, Gericke, Höglund & Bergman (2012) have argued that good practices to inspire teachers as well as expertise in SD are lacking. Berglund & Gericke (2015) have concluded that students’ understanding of the SD concept depends on their personal values as well as on the perspective they adopt (either separated or integrated).
Academic staff in the field of ESD can have an influence on teachers. It can be certainly said that academic staff influences directly or indirectly practices at school. According to this line of thinking, the conceptions of academic staff are regarded of great importance. In fact, previous research has shown that conceptions of academic staff about SD has a significant influence concerning the incorporation of ESD in higher education (Holmberg, Svanström, Peet, Mulder, Ferrer-Balas & Segalàs, 2008). However, this research refers to academic staff from several subjects and no research has been conducted so far with regard to the conceptions of academic staff about SD particularly in the field of ESD. To bridge this gap, we will answer the following research question:
To what extent do academic staff in the field of Education for Sustainable Development perceive holistically the concept of Sustainable Development within the framework of Education for Sustainable Development?
Berglund, T., Gericke, N., & Chang Rundgren, S.-N. (2014). The Implementation of Education for Sustainable Development in Sweden: Investigating the Sustainability Consciousness among Upper Secondary Students. Research in Science & Technological Education, 32(3), 318–339. doi:10.1080/02635143.2014.944493 Berglund, T., & Gericke N. (2015). Separated and Integrated Perspectives on Environmental, Economic, and Social Dimensions – An Investigation of Student Views on Sustainable Development. Environmental Education Research, 3(1). doi:10.1080/13504622.2015.1063589 Boeve-de Pauw, J., Gericke, N., Olsson, D., & Berglund, T. (2015). The Effectiveness of Education for Sustainable Development. Sustainability, 7, 15693-15717. doi:10.3390/su71115693 Borg, C., Gericke, N., Höglund, H. O. & Bergman, E. (2012). The Barriers Encountered by Teachers Implementing Education for Sustainable Development: Discipline Bound Differences and Teaching Traditions. Research in Science and Technological Education, 30(2), 185–207. doi:10.1080/02635143.2012.699891 Borg, C., Gericke, N., Höglund, H. O., & Bergman, E. (2014). Subject- and Experience bound Differences in Teachers’ Conceptual Understanding of Sustainable Development. Environmental Education Research, 20(4), 526–551. doi:10.1080/13504622.2013.833584 Holmberg, J., Svanström, M., Peet, D.-J., Mulder, K., Ferrer-Balas, D., & Segalàs, J. (2008). Embedding Sustainability in Higher Education through Interaction with Lecturers: Case studies from three European Technical Universities. European Journal of Engineering Education, 33, 271-282. doi:10.1080/03043790802088491 Mortier, A., Lesterhuis, M., Vlerick, P., & de Maeyer, S. (2015). Comparative judgment within online assessment: exploring students feedback reactions. In E. Ras & D. Joosten-ten Brinke (Eds.), Computer assisted assessment : research into E-assessment (Vol. 571, pp. 69–79). Springer. Nworie, J., (2011). Using the Delphi Technique in Educational Technology Research, TechTrends, 55(5), 24-30. Okoli, C., & Pawlowski, S. (2004). The Delphi Method as a Research Tool: an Example, Design Considerations and Applications. Information & Management, 42, 15-29. doi:10.1016/j.im.2003.11.002 Olsson, D., Gericke, N., & Chang Rundgren, S. -N. (2015). The Effect of Implementation of Education for Sustainable Development in Swedish Compulsory Schools – Assessing Pupils’ Sustainability Consciousness. Environmental Education Research. doi:10.1080/13504622.2015.1005057 Summers, M., & Childs A. (2007). Student Science Teachers’ Conceptions of Sustainable Development: An Empirical Study of Three Postgraduate Training Cohorts. Research in Science & Technological Education, 25(3), 307–327. doi:10.1080/02635140701535067 Thomas, S. (2004). Using Web and Paper Questionnaires for Data-Based Decision Making: From Design to Interpretation of the Results (1st ed.): Corwin. Walshe, N. (2008). Understanding Students’ Conceptions of Sustainability. Environmental Education Research, 14(5), 537–558. doi:10.1080/13504620802345958 This study is supported by a grant from the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, Greece awarded to Eleni Sinakou.
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