20 SES 05 A, Creativity and Intercultural Learning among HE Students
This paper analyses Higher Education students’ learning about Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) bringing to light the ways in which they organised themselves to develop their own enquiries and engaged with diversity to build up their own theories both before and during an ERASMUS Intensive Programme (IP) ‘ESD: Exploring Hopeful Pathways towards Preferable Local and Global Futures’ (Ref. No: 11/0029-E/4003: September 2010 / September 2013). It addresses the question ‘What do students learn for their own lives and works from innovative and plural pedagogies for ESD?’. The students are selected from 9 different countries in the European region.and are drawn from HE programmes on education, human resource management, economics and social pedagogy.
It is recognised that in these last stages of the UNESCO decade of education for sustainable development (ESD) there is a continuing need to raise public awareness of the responsibility of individual citizens to voluntarily contribute to the social, cultural and economic shifts that are necessary to meet the sustainability challenge (WWF International, 2012). Although we can discern the willingness of HE students to participate in innovative forms of education for sustainability, there is still a need to develop understanding of the outcomes of co-constructive, narrative based and dialogic ESD pedagogies that are being introduced (Wals & Corcoran, 2012) and applied in different contexts (Clough & Tarr, 2011, Warwick & Bowden 2012).
The valuing of heterogeneous /pluralistic dimensions in social learning is advocated in mainstream discussion of pedagogy, e.g. in Alexander’s evidence of cumulative processes through which learners chain their ideas into coherent lines of thinking, and in Mercer’s evidence of learners’ capacities to share relevant knowledge, challenge ideas, evaluate evidence, consider options and seek agreement in an equitable manner (Alexander, 2008; Mercer, 2008). These researchers have emphasised the role of dialogic talk in learning so as to expand the repertoires of teachers (Clough, 2012). However within the innovative framework of this ERASMUS IP the emphasis has shifted to include a pedagogy of ‘cognitive justice’ that prioritises the availability of plural forms of knowledge as a necessary condition to sustain a critical review by HE students of their own learning repertoires and of hegemonic influences in education.
In practical terms pedagogies based on these principles ensure that a diversity of learners are in attendance and encourage such diverse groups to be collaborative co-creators of the process through which learning is accessed and developed. With these learning conditions in place such pedagogies also encourage engagement with flows of knowledge from and between both formal and informal sectors so as to foster tentativeness and open mindedness in face of competing narratives about serious ecological and social concerns that beset citizens worldwide. Building on what some have referred to as mindset switching (Wals, 2010) the learning process involves bringing the learners into close proximity with a multiplicity of world views through a curriculum that exposes dissonant dimensions implicit in various ‘hopeful pathways’ towards sustainability that are identified.
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