Ongoing and Future Directions of Research on Higher Education for Sustainable Development

Authored by: Steve Gough , Meyrav Mor , Anna Sowter , Paul Vare

Routledge Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415727303
eBook ISBN: 9781315852249
Adobe ISBN: 9781317918110


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To understand the way we think about the present, we need to examine the past. The ideas academics have today do not spring into their minds from nowhere, but are rooted in earlier terminologies, practices and debates of which they are likely to be only partly aware. To understand the prospects for higher education for sustainable development we therefore need to examine its principle historical influences. Space is limited, so this discussion restricts itself to two such influences. These are work in environmental education, and education for sustainable development. With this brief analysis in hand, the rest of the chapter considers the successes and challenges of the present and the prospects for the future. In particular, it notes that much sustainable development education in higher education takes place in partial or absolute ignorance of the existence of something called ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ (ESD), and asks whether this matters and why. In particular, this gives rise to a discussion of the differences between, on the one hand, identifying and assessing ESD and, on the other hand, practising and developing ESD in a purposive way.

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