30 SES 13 A, Higher Education for Sustainability: Session 2
What research methodological tools and approaches can be practically used to understand sustainability change processes, especially in higher education? This is the question this research/book project that emanates from the authors’ experiences of working with various generative and analytical methodological approaches to ESD at all levels of education, especially in HE in seeking to answer. The research/book project was inspired by three set of considerations. Firstly, the need to develop in-depth understandings of individual and collective change-oriented learning and change processes undertaken towards sustainability in Higher Education (HE) where Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is the focus (or Higher Education for Sustainable Development - HESD). Secondly, the need to share methodological approaches that can support the development of such understanding as a means of working towards a more sustainable future. Thirdly, the need to provide access to examples of analysis of sustainability change and ESD processes in practice understood through the empirical application of a number of methodological approaches.
The research (and emerging book) responds to the lack of widely published materials on case studies and empirical data on HESD. This research aims to specifically (1) Provide insight into the processes that influence the roles, responsibilities, and trajectories that educators and trainers follow in practically responding to sustainability concerns while focusing on the core function of HE. (2) Show ways of methodologically understanding HESD change processes, functions and operations that help to practically understand, analyse, explain ESD change-oriented learning and change processes.
The research/book project draws on data generated from the first author’s Masters and PhD theses. The book argues that via a wider range of methodological approaches to those already available, and as exemplified via the case studies that apply different methodological approaches, further understandings of HESD change processes is possible, at different levels and in different contexts of the HESD system of activity. This will potentially contribute to the understanding of change-oriented learning at individual, collective, institutional, local, regional and global ESD levels (i.e. multi-levelled and multi-sectoral perspectives on this change). In this proposed book, the authors will present HESD research methodological approaches that are either/both generative or analytical in nature. By generative research methodological approaches, we mean those that are intentionally employed to propel HESD change-oriented learning and change processes (individually and/or collectively). By analytical research methodological approaches, we mean those that are employed to systematically investigate the HESD change-oriented learning and change process already in motion (individually and/or collectively).
With a focus on the HE context and related environmental and sustainability issues and risk, the research explores and the book presents examples of such generative and analytical methodological approaches. These include activity system and expansive learning interventionist approach (Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) (after Engeström and Sannino), social learning approach (after Tábara), morphogenesis/morphostasis approach (after Archer), laminated systems (after Bhaskar and Danermark, Price), position-practice system (after Bhaskar), and Capability Approach (after Sen). In the book, and in separate chapters, each methodological approach and tool will be theoretically, conceptually and empirically presented, drawing on methods and data generated through interviews, surveys, focus groups, observation and document analysis from previous empirical studies in order to provide both theoretical and practical perspectives to HESD. In this research/book project, the authors show why new methodological tools and approaches are needed. They briefly present examples of such in practice based on research data and experience and one example is presented in depth. In the in-depth presentation, a description of the research objectives, the research context and case, the research methodology and approach used and a reflection on the research approach and outcomes for ESD in HE is done.
As earlier mentioned, this research/book project emerges from the first author’s completed Master’s and PhD research supervised by the co-author. The Master’s thesis (Agbedahin, 2012) which was an Interventionist Research to create expansive learning opportunities to foster a more sustainable economy and reduction of food waste in university dining halls. This constitutes the author’s proposal submitted for the Emerging Researchers Conference 2019, hence the detail will not be repeated here. The PhD thesis (Agbedahin 2016), investigated how position-practice systems and professional development shape effective ESD mainstreaming in Higher Education. The morphogenesis social theory of change and the laminated system were used to understand and explain these dynamics. During the course of the PhD, the tracking and monitoring of learning and change processes of the 2008-2013 International Training Programme (ITP) alumni was done by the authors. This study was carried out in three phases. Phase one encapsulates the investigation of all ITP ESD in higher education alumni who were Asian and African participants from the inception of the ITP to its completion, over a six-year period (2008-2013). This included 280 academics from Asia and Africa in 35 countries in Asia and Africa from 106 institutions in Asia and Africa with their 139 change projects. However, this phase provided and formed the foundational data that was expanded in phases two and three for the purpose of this study. Phase two of this research concentrated on a less broad population of research participants comprising only all African ITP alumni, from all regions in Africa. The overall data collection and analysis included 162 academics in 23 African countries from 66 institutions with their 81 change projects. The aim was to investigate and provide a morphogenetic explanation of their change projects and how the relationship between participants’ positions and practices may influence ESD mainstreaming in universities. In phase three, (nested) case studies of Swaziland, Zambia, and Botswana, which included all the ESD ITP HE participants therein and the three corresponding EE/ESD Chairs, were developed. The population sample in this phase three, therefore, contained 20 academics, from six institutions with their nine change projects. This phase was characterised by field trips to these countries and in-depth data collection and analysis in order to investigate and deepen the morphogenetic explanations of their change projects and how the relationship between participants’ positions and practices (and that of others) have indeed influenced the ESD mainstreaming in universities.
On a macro level, this research/book project contribute to the debate on the practical achievement of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (UN, 2014; 2015; 2016). It does this by focusing on practical methodological approaches for undertaking ESD research in Higher Education (HE). The research/book project also brings into focus the importance of sustainable human development in ensuring sustainable environmental development, since ‘the human development approach and the 2030 Agenda are mutually reinforcing’ (UNDP, 2016). There is no doubt that sustainable development implicitly and explicitly requires individual, collective and institutional change-oriented learning and change processes. The role, responsibility and actual practices of key HE stakeholders including academic and non-academic staff and students in this multifaceted agenda are of the essence with SDG 4.7 involving a process where ‘all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development’ (UN, 2015). The UNESCO Roadmap for implementing the Global Action Programme on ESD prioritizes the capacity building of educators and trainers to mediate, integrate and mainstream ESD into education policy, curriculum, research, theory and practice (UNESCO, 2014). The recent learning objectives for the ESD Goals (UNESCO, 2017) acknowledge the efficacy of research-based analysis of ESD processes in different learning settings (such as schools, colleges, universities or non-formal educational institutions) and the highlighting of practical experiences with ESD approaches and their critical reflections. The role, responsibility and actual practices of HESD stakeholders in the context of human development and especially in understanding, integrating and mainstream ESD in the functions and operations of HE are pertinent and urgent. This also potentially provides the means to influence and speak back to global policies in terms of the respective local understanding, take up, play out and practical actualization.
Agbedahin, A. V. (2012). Identifying expansive learning opportunities to foster a more sustainable food economy: A case study of Rhodes University dining halls. Grahamstown: Unpublished Masters Thesis. Agbedahin, A. V. (2016). A morphogenic and laminated system explanation of the position-practice system and professional development training in mainstreaming ESD in African universities. Rhodes University, Grahamstown: Unpublished Ph.D. thesis. Agbedahin, A. V., & Lotz-Sisitka, H. (2015). Higher Education International Training Programme (ITP) on ESD alumni and change project tracking project. Grahamstown: Unpublished report, Rhodes University, South Africa. Archer, M. (1998). Realism and morphogenesis. In M. Archer, R. Bhaskar, A. Collier, T. Lawson, & N. Alan (Eds.). London: Routledge. Archer, M. S. (1995). Realist social theory: The morphogenetic approach. New York: Cambridge University Press. Bhaskar, R. (1979, 1989, 1998). The possibility of naturalism (1st, 2nd, 3rd ed.). Sussex; Hemel Hempstead; New York: The Harvester Press; The Harvester Press; Routledge. Bhaskar, R. (2010). Contexts of interdisciplinarity: Interdisciplinarity and climate change. In R. Bhaskar, C. Frank, K. G. Hoyer, P. Næss, & P. Jenneth (Eds.), Interdisciplinary and climate change: Transforming knowledge and practice for our global future (pp. 1-23). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Bhaskar, R., & Danermark, B. (2006). Metatheory, interdisciplinarity and disability research: A critical realist perspective. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 8(4), 278-297. Engeström, Y., & Sannino, A. (2010). Studies of expansive learning: Foundations, findings, and future challenges. Educational Research Review (5), 1-24. Lotz-Sisitka, H., Agbedahin, A. V., & Hlengwa, A. (2015). ‘Seeding Change’: Developing a change-oriented model for professional learning and ESD in higher education institutions in Africa. In H. Lotz-Sisitka, G. Nailuti, A. Hlengwa, A. Ogbuigwe, M. Pradhan, M. Neeser, & S. Lauriks (Eds.), Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities: Stories of Change (pp. 16-33). Grahamstown: Rhodes University Environmental Learning Research Centre. Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Sen, A. (2009). The Idea of Justice. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. UNESCO. (2014). UNESCO Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Paris: UNESCO. United Nations. (2014). Report of the open working group of the general assembly on sustainable development goals. United Nations. United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development A/RES/70/1. New York: United Nations. United Nations. (2016). Global Sustainable Development Report 2016. New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2016). Human Development Report 2016: Human development for everyone. New York: United Nations Development Programme.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.