30 SES 07 A, Conceptual Work and Case Studies on ESE/ESD Learning in Higher Education (Courses)
Anticipatory competence is seen as the ability to craft, evaluate and analyse different images of the future (Wiek 2011) Yet, in order to engage with the future, we need to believe we can shape it. Pike and Selby call this belief in potential futures the "zone of potentiality" where students "recognise that human choices and actions (including their own...) flow into, and help shape the future" p218 (Pike & Selby 1999).
Competence here is defined as the melange of knowledge, skills, values and dispositions that lead to successful performance (Rieckmann 2012) and UNESCO define it as “knowledge, skills and attitudes to successfully answer challenges” (UNESCO 2014), in this the challenge is anticipating a better future. Anticipation is seen as an essential part of being competent in sustainability (Wiek 2016, De Haan 2010) and to that end research has taken place to explore the operationalisation of the concept (Gardiner & Rieckmann 2015, Gardiner 2017). In the course of research many aspects of AC have become operationalised in principle, such as critical hope and coping strategies (Ojala 2013), however there still remains a need to further investigate the appropriate teaching content and methodologies that can help develop these aspects.
The zone of potentiality is one aspect in particular that stands out with students and which can be defined as the learning outcome understanding that the future is something that can be shaped (Gardiner 2015, Pike and Selby 1999). In a world beset by media warning of global catastrophe at every turn, it can be easy to freeze up and become apathetic (Kelsey and Armstrong 2012). Added to this, many feel a disconnect with there future in terms of powerless and lack of representation. Amsler and Facer (2017) write “the colonisation of the future and the active construction of hopelessness, in particular, disrupts the historic anticipatory logic shaping formal education in modern capitalist societies”. Therefore how to counter this ongoing colonisation of our students' futures?
This research is part of an action research programme to understand how students in higher education learn and develop their anticipatory competence. In the programme students that take part in a specially designed sustainability and the future course (Gardiner & Rieckmann 2015, Gardiner 2017) are expected to keep a learning journal documenting their thoughts about each class. These student diaries will be examined according to thematic analysis and coded for levels of understanding of their zone of potentiality and mapped according to teaching content and methodology.
Preliminary work has shown marked engagement in the topic of transition towns. Therefore methodologies exploring this futures narrative will be particularly scrutinised as it is expected that the course modules that cover these will show more evidence of the ZOP than others.
Amsler, S. & Facer, K. (2017). Contesting anticipatory regimes in education: exploring alternative educational orientations to the future. Futures, 94, 6-14. Gardiner, S. (2017). Futures loss, despair and empowerment work in the University of Vechta: An action research project. In A. Wals & P. Blaze-Corcoran (Eds.), Envisioning futures for environmental and sustainability education. Wageningen: Wageningen University Press. Gardiner, S., & Rieckmann, M. (2015). Pedagogies of Preparedness: Use of reflective journals in the operationalisation of anticipatory competence. Sustainability, 7(1). Kelsey, E., & Armstrong, C. (2012). Finding hope in a world of environmental catastrophe. Arjen Wals & Peter Blaze Corcoran (Eds) Learning for sustainability in times of accelerating change Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers. Ojala, M. (2017). Hope and anticipation in education for a sustainable future. Futures. doi: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.futures.2016.10.004 Pike, G., & Selby, D. (1999). In the Global Classroom. Toronto, Canada: Pippin Publishing. Rieckmann, M. (2012). Future-oriented higher education: which key competencies should be fostered through university teaching and learning?. . Futures, 44, 127-135. UNESCO. (2014). Roadmap for implementing the Global Action Programme on Education Development. Paris, France. Wiek, A., Michael J. Bernstein, Rider W. Foley, Matthew Cohen, Nigel Forrest, Christopher Kuzdas, . . . Keeler, L. W. (2016). Operationalising Competencies in Higher Education for Sustainable Development. In Barth M, Michelsen G, Rieckmann M & T. I (Eds.), Routledge handbook of higher education for sustainable development (pp. 241-260. ): Routledge. Wiek, A., Withycombe, L., & Redman, C. L. (2011). Key competencies in sustainability: a reference framework for academic program development. Sustainability Science, 6(2), 203-213.
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