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Learning for change : Cross-disciplinary postgraduate programmes in sustainability

Grierson, David and Hyland, Claire (2011) Learning for change : Cross-disciplinary postgraduate programmes in sustainability. International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, 7 (3). pp. 37-50. ISSN 1832-2077

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Abstract

Through connecting the local and global, higher education institutions play a vital role in addressing social, environmental and economic challenges and ultimately achieving a sustainable future. New Horizons: Responding to the Challenges of the 21st Century (Scottish Government, 2008), outlines the contributions which Scottish universities should make to the economy, culture and society, and to the political priorities of the Scottish Government. Learning for Change: Scotland’s Action Plan for the Second Half of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (Scottish Government, 2010) examines progress to date and sets out the actions that higher education institutions have committed to undertaking in the second half of the decade and beyond. These two important documents provide the context for work that has taken place at the University of Strathclyde in response to the challenges set out within them. The University of Strathclyde has been ranked first in the Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Observatory Report 2008 and plans to build on this success. The challenges presented by Sustainable Development are inherently holistic, demanding equal responses from all disciplines and this requires the development of a framework for University-wide, cross disciplinary teaching. This paper describes work that has taken place within the University to develop a new university-wide, multi-disciplinary, Strathclyde Masters programme in Sustainability (SMS) aimed at articulating a framework for integrating flagship postgraduate courses & classes, sustainability literacy, skills training workshops and subsequent continuing professional development courses. Conclusions are presented from the three main bodies of work involved: a review of current thinking in ESD; a multi-stakeholder consultation process involving students, academic and professional services staff within the university, and external stakeholders, and the creation of a Sustainability Map detailing current postgraduate provision of ESD at the University.