Higher Education for Sustainability: Cases, Challenges, and Opportunities from Across the Curriculum

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Although your institution is worried about taking risks, it is also worried about not keeping up with competitors and potentially losing students and staff to other institutions. There are also a number of significant operating challenges that demand your attention: research performance, student enrolment, capital works, infrastructure maintenance, staff resourcing, workload allocations, and so on.

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As usual, these are all competing for priority. In short, although you have certainty that something has to be done, and clarity about the risks of not acting soon and the benefits of doing so, how will you develop a strategy for something as ambitious as achieving program-wide curriculum renewal? Perhaps it is without precedent?

Table Of Contents: Volume 11 Issue 2

This is a particularly daunting consideration, given the size of the scope, the short time frame for action, and that there is little to no precedent or guidance. The manner in which these questions are answered will heavily influence the quality of the response by the institution, and not only have wide reaching budget and resourcing implications, but will also affect the level of risk and reward the institution achieves over time.

In reality a top-level commitment that provides a list of outcomes for staff to achieve without a whole-of-organisation strategy is unlikely to compete effectively with other immediate, day-to-day challenges and bureaucratic pressures that face the institution, and may be overtaken by other agendas. Education institutions are complex interconnected human systems that require a steady-hand to steer towards comprehensive reform. This and the subsequent chapters provide guidance on key considerations for any institution seeking to develop a strategy to deliver education for sustainability, in a timely manner.

Cases, Challenges, and Opportunities from Across the Curriculum, 1st Edition

Few engineering education programs are underpinned by a comprehensive specification of program objectives and detailed graduate outcomes that provide a clear understanding of the knowledge, attributes and capability targets for graduates in the particular discipline. We often come across colleagues and educators in Australia and overseas that are not familiar with what the term means.

Amongst those who are there is clear understanding of the importance of graduate attributes, however there is also reluctance to consider generating graduate attributes for their own programs, or interpreting what they mean at the level of individual courses. Often we hear complaints that such as the level of inquiry is too time consuming and does not seem practical. For those who have previously broached the concept of sustainability-related graduate attributes, their initiatives struggled due to the lack of a coherent process to reach agreement on what graduates should know in relation to sustainability.

In responding to this range of familiarity among educators of the use of graduate attributes and the mixed review of those who have some experience with their use, this chapter focuses on first explaining what graduate attributes are, and then outlines opportunities to use them to focus sustainability curriculum renewal efforts.

The chapter also addresses the difficulty of reaching consensus in identifying sustainability-related graduate attributes, outlining a timely and effective facilitation approach that has proved invaluable for our team in facilitating many such workshops over the last decade. Perhaps this has been in the context of developing a particular skill such as computer aided drawing. However, in practice there are still few examples of detailed mapping for programs, across the full suite of graduate attributes that students are supposed to develop by the time they graduate.

Building on Chapter 6, which discussed the identification of graduate attribute statements, we explore how mapping fits into the process. For every graduate attribute that has been selected, there will be one or more component knowledge and skills — or competencies — that need to be embedded into student learning, across one or more courses, for that attribute to be developed by graduation.

The chapter then discusses how these competencies translate into learning outcomes with mapped pathways for developing graduate attributes in the curriculum. This includes a method for distilling competencies and learning outcome statements and mapping them, course-by-course. We also discuss why — in contrast to the process for identifying graduate attributes, which requires participation from the whole department — the mapping process can be undertaken by a small team of academics including the program convenor, and teaching and learning expert.

It is equally important that this process is undertaken in a collaborative, transparent, and non-confrontational way often supported, or even led by external facilitators. Rigorous assessment is critical in working out where the curriculum is performing well in developing the attributes, where it could be improved, and what priority it is for renewal. At this point in the curriculum renewal process there are a number of learning outcomes allocated to new and existing courses within a program, to achieve one or more graduate attributes.

As a logical next step, one might conclude it to be a straightforward matter to address these new learning outcomes, then follow-through with updating courses. After all, curriculum renewal is well established within higher education, and self-directed by faculty for the most part. The majority of student evaluations are above average, so why are we concerned? Unfortunately in higher education successfully embedding learning outcomes within courses is the exception rather than the rule.

Not only do academics struggle with emerging topic areas and knowledge and skills implications for their courses, they also struggle with the process of curriculum renewal itself, requiring greater support and strategic direction. With these considerations in mind this chapter is not intended to be prescriptive in how faculty should shape courses to deliver intended learning outcomes.

The chapter begins by addressing four common misconceptions to create a clearing for curriculum renewal to occur. The rest of the chapter then draws on lessons learned over the years to discuss four mechanisms to for overcoming barriers to developing and updating courses, grouped under the following considerations:.

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Through greater understanding of these it is possible to take actions that keep the process on track, with satisfied faculty, students, and key stakeholders. The chapter then highlights a number of financially attractive opportunities that can be harnessed during this step, including suggestions for:.


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It has been tempting for us to use this publication to discuss the various types of teaching and learning options to engage with education for sustainability. From blackboard and whiteboard lectures through to online interactive media and problem-based learning, there are a myriad of options available to interact with students, many of whom approach their studies with cultural preferences. In this approach, students are required to draw on their core training in a given field and interact with each other, to apply knowledge and skills developed through their program, tackling increasingly complex and integrated challenges.

The education for sustainable development field is still emerging, and we are early career academics in the topic area. To present a rigorous discussion we have relied on the extensive experience and wealth of knowledge within our international network of researchers and practitioners. Drawing on many voices, we have endeavoured to communicate the latest research and opportunities while being pragmatic about the scale of challenges and existing inertia within higher education and academia. Mentors and collaborating partners are the real champions of this field and have provided wisdom and experience that bring this publication to life.

Over the years the team has collaborated with hundreds of colleagues through a range of university partners to create, implement and review a range of curriculum renewal options. We also received blind peer review of the key concepts by 40 colleagues in the field, in collaboration with Walter Leal and his team at the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. We thank our colleagues from The Natural Edge Project TNEP research group for their support and commitment during this time, without which breakthroughs would not have been possible.

We also thank colleagues for their review assistance with the manuscript text affiliations correct at the time of review, in alphabetical order :. Introduction Sustainability issues will shape what students do in their future careers, especially within built environmentprofessions. Drivers and Barriers to Education for Sustainability The education of professionals will need to be significantly renewed in the coming decade, to align with requirements to respond to a growing range of environmental, social and economic challenges.

Although there are signs of change, progress is typically limited to particular examples rather than being mainstreamed across the sectors. In this chapter, we outline a series of drivers and barriers to mainstreaming education for sustainability.

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Herein we draw on the engineering discipline to provide examples and context for the theory and models presented. Deliberative and Dynamic Curriculum Renewal Despite decades of attempts to embed sustainability within higher education, literature clearly suggests that, on the whole, the education sector has been relatively slow to incorporate sustainability knowledge and skill areas, and is generally poorly prepared to do so. Over the last decade our research team at The Natural Edge Project have developed many educational resources to accelerate the transition to education for sustainability.

This chapter outlines a model that has been informed by these efforts working with our mentors around the world that are leading the way. Part 3: Key Considerations for Each Element of Curriculum Renewal Identifying Graduate Attributes Graduate attributes are gaining popularity as a tool to inform curriculum renewal efforts.

Not only do they help to define the kind of graduates programs seek to deliver, they provide a tangible way for accreditation bodies to communicate to universities what students are expected to develop by the time they complete their studies. Yet despite this increasing popularity, graduate attributes receive a mixed review among academics, and the actual use of graduate attributes is still very low. As Professor King reflected in a review of engineering education in Australia, Few engineering education programs are underpinned by a comprehensive specification of program objectives and detailed graduate outcomes that provide a clear understanding of the knowledge, attributes and capability targets for graduates in the particular discipline.

Mapping Learning Pathways The process of mapping graduate attributes across programs involves discussions about how considering how this might be achieved in each course. Many workshop participants have not heard about the potential for mapping a series of learning outcomes within a program to develop one or more attributes, assuming it is sufficient simply to highlight program intentions for student capabilities at the end of their studies.

Then, when conversation moves to what evidence could show how attributes are being developed, the discussion takes many turns.

Implementing Sustainability in the Curriculum of Universities | uxixakufaxeb.tk

Auditing Learning Outcomes Building on from the development of preferred graduate attributes in Chapter 6, the mapping of these attributes within programs to develop learning pathways and the identification of specific courses to support this in Chapter 7, this chapter focuses on gaining an understanding of the task at hand through an audit of learning outcomes at the course level. The chapter outlines a collaborative and non-confrontational process to systematically review existing courses in a program for the existence of knowledge and skills related to the preferred graduate attributes.

Brown, C. Carruthers, T. Jones, Y. Kim, C. Raab, K. Teeters and L. Mayer and S. Kneesel and S. Mao and P.



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