Special Issue on Sustainability and Education: Towards a Culture of Critical Commitment

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Summary International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development (IJISD) Vol2 Issue 3/4 - 2007

Special Issue on Sustainability and Education: Towards a Culture of Critical Commitment

International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development (IJISD)Volume 2 - Issue 3/4 - 2007 Guest Editors: Dr. Stephen Sterling and Dr. James Gray-Donald

A few of the abstracts. You will have to pay for anything more.

As the heating happens: Education for Sustainable Development or Education for Sustainable Contraction? by David Selby

There is widespread consensus within the international scientific community that global warming is happening and that its causes are primarily anthropogenic. Future histories anticipate massive environmental and social upheaval unless carbon emissions are dramatically curtailed in the near future. Responses to the prospect of a hotter planet include welcome, refutation, avoidance and denial, and concerned activism. Denial is evident among those seeking to effect social change, including advocates of education for sustainable development. A fundamental issue for those advocates is the relevance of continuing to talk about development as the heating happens. An alternative, education for social contraction, is elaborated.

Understanding the connections between double bind thinking and the ecological crises: implications for educational reform by C A Bowers

This paper examines several reasons most professors of education are unable to recognise that the ecological crises require more than technologies that have a smaller ecological footprint. First, there is an explanation of double bind thinking where the thought patterns of the distant past are carried forward in the metaphorical language relied upon by most educators. Second, the importance of the cultural commons is discussed as representing alternatives to the hyper-levels of consumerism now contributing to the ecological crises. The role that classroom teachers and professors can play as mediators in clarifying the differences between the student's cultural commons and consumer-based experiences is also discussed.

Changing the story: 'Cradle-to-cradle' thinking as a compelling framework for ESD in a globalised world by Ken Webster

The role of worldviews remains under-represented in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) despite developments in cognitive science which place them centre stage. An explicit understanding of the shift from linear and mechanistic mental models to those engendered by a nonlinear and living systems perspective is being articulated in science and innovative business under the heading 'cradle-to cradle' thinking. The application of this perspective exemplifies a coherent and satisfying model, capable of suggesting a sustainability which is authentic, aspirational, and 'relevant'. Through this narrative the connections between nature, society and economy can be better understood and alternatives judged.

Pedagogies for persistence: cognitive challenges and collective competency development by Richard Bawden

Education for sustainability is a challenge that is being met in many different innovative ways under many different circumstances in many different parts of the world. In this paper, the author draws on his personal experiences with radical systemic pedagogies within a context of agriculture and rural development appropriate to an emergent Era of Persistence in Australia, to design and conduct a graduate course in the USA that linked sustainability with systems thinking. The organising framework for the short duration, single unit course exploited the integration of five characters of sustainability that the author claims were appropriate both to the context and to the particular circumstances: cognition, complexity, contestation, contingency and collectivity.

Implications of quantum theory on education: a critical review of the literature by James Gray-Donald

There has been a paradigm shift in physics over the last 100 years that has spread to the biological sciences, social sciences and now educational theorists are writing about such a change within the field of education. This paper synthesises and critiques the range of papers and dissertations with relation to the educational implications of quantum theory for the first time. The central threads are: the Either/Or dualism, science as a paradigm, research methodology, chaos and uncertainty, nonlocality, and spirituality. All of these ideas are potentially central to the emerging pedagogies of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The paper concludes that quantum theory provides a number of useful metaphors for good pedagogy, but that caution should be used when turning scientific into educational theory and practice.

Science, spirituality and holism within higher education by Brian Goodwin

This paper challenges the notion that science is the study of quantities and not qualities, thereby allowing the study of qualities – which is normally restricted to spirituality and the arts – to infuse scientific practice. Therefore more emphasis can be placed on direct experience and how we gain reliable knowledge from it. This covers the area of conventional science but extends much further, requiring the cultivation of ways of knowing that are usually described in terms of intuition and feeling. Although these have always been recognised as aspects of scientific insight and creativity, they are not deliberately cultivated in our educational process. I suggest that this is the core of spiritual learning, so that by including it within a holistic educational process we are putting science and spirituality together in the learning process.

We comprehend that which comprehends us: an exploration of hermeneutic Gaia by Adam Eaton Croft

Gaia Theory recognises the tightly-coupled system of life and its environment from which emerges the self regulation of the living Earth. The fledgling science of the hermeneutic Earth reinterprets these cyclical relations of life and the environment as meaningful expressions of our living, self-interpreting, self creating Earth. This hermeneutic interpretation of Gaia Theory explores the meaningful wholeness of the living Earth, a wholeness that arises in the coherent relations of its constituent parts. Practicing a science of the hermeneutic Gaia offers a novel understanding of the potential field of ethical interaction with the living Earth. Qualities such as meaning and agency, once accepted as peculiarly human and thereby privileging human moral status, are now integral to the science of a language-based Earth.

Spires, plateaus and the infertile landscape of Education for Sustainable Development: re-invigorating the university through integrating community, campus and curriculum by John Barry

Education for and research on sustainable development are currently not well served by the modern university, particularly in the UK. While there is rhetoric about supporting more interdisciplinary research and teaching the modern university system favours individual 'spires of excellence' within strict disciplinary boundaries. Interdisciplinary and multiple-authored work are viewed as 'intellectual plateaus' and of lesser value. However, there are examples of innovative models, such as the ''community, campus and curriculum'' one. This model is examined for its potential to re-orientate the modern university to produce and share knowledge that is 'fit for purpose' for the challenges and opportunities of sustainability.