22 SES 07 D, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Parallel Paper Session
The future oriented concept of sustainable development, by now firmly established in the international political discourse, clearly poses a challenge that asks for a societal reorientation on different levels. Universities in their roles of researching and teaching institutions as well as regionally rooted em-ployer and consumer are playing a crucial role in the context of sustainable development: They generate, transfer and communicate new knowledge and offer in addition education and training as one of their key tasks (Cortese 2003, Fien 2002). The implementation of an overall concept of a sustainable development comes along with new challenges for higher education: “Without new approaches in teaching, the new academia is not imaginable. Well-trodden paths and approaches need to be checked and abandoned, in case of doubt.” (Gruppe 2004 2004: 16).
Against the background of globalization and increasing complexity, Higher Education for Sustainable Development (HESD) aims at the individuals’ competencies not only to collect and generate knowledge but also to reflect on the complexity and interrelations of behavior as well as decision-making in a future-oriented and global perspective. (Adomßent/Michelsen 2006; Barth/Godemann 2006). Taking this into account, education for sustainable development is “not just another issue to be added to an overcrowded curriculum, but a gateway to a different view of curriculum, of pedagogy, of organizational change, of policy and particularly of ethos” (Sterling, 2004, 50). On the contrary, implementing HESD means re-adjusting academic teaching and offering new learning settings. The aim of such a re-adjustment of existing curricula is to design learning settings which ask for ethically reflected decision-making which bridges disciplinary knowledge and interdisciplinary, problem-oriented approaches and allows for the integration of different types of knowledge for solutions of practical relevance.
Within the last decade a number of different initiatives and pilot projects have been initiated that consider sustainable development as an important issue of higher education. Disciplinary fields in the natural sciences as well as teacher education have picked up the overall concept of sustainability, while at the same time new study courses and course specializations have been developed in which sustainable development is dealt with exclusively. Even so the challenge of a comprehensive implementation in, and a far-reaching change of, the existing curricula persists (Sterling 2006; Thomas 2004). Similarly, pilot projects so far have given little information about the impact on learning objectives and thus on possibilities of supporting key competencies that are considered crucial.
The presentation introduces the findings of a project that aimed to systematically integrate experiences of implementation processes into a meta-analysis of existing case studies and explored the impact of different implementation strategies on students’ competence development. By assessing students’ competencies in higher education institutions and combining it with an analysis of different implementation processes conclusions could be drawn on the interrelation of these two phenomena.
Adomßent, M., Michelsen, G. (2006): German Academia heading for sustainability? Reflections on policy and practice in teaching, research and institutional innovations. In: Environmental Education Research, 12 (1), 85–99. Barnett, R. (2004): Learning for an unknown future. In: Higher Education Research & Development, 23 (3), 247–260. Barth, M., Godemann, J. (2006a): Nachhaltigkeit interdisziplinär studieren. Das Studienprogramm Nachhaltig-keit der Uni Lüneburg. In: Zeitschrift für Hochschulentwicklung, 1 (1). Flick, U. (2004): Triangulation. Eine Einführung. Wiesbaden. Hartig, J., Klieme, E., Leutner, D. (eds.) (2007): Assessment of competencies in educational contexts. Cambridge MA. Heaton, J. (2004): Reworking Qualitative Data. London. Scott, W., Gough, S. (2004): Key issues in sustainable development and learning. A critical review. London. Sterling, S., Thomas, I. (2006): Education for sustainability: the role of capabilities in guiding university curricula. In: International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, 1 (4), 349–370. Thomas, I., La Harpe, B. de: Curriculum Change in Universities. Conditions that Facilitate Education for Sus-tainable Development. In: Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 3 (1), 75–85.
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