Towards a framework for university-wide postgradaute programmes in sustainability

Grierson, David and Hyland, Claire (2010) Towards a framework for university-wide postgradaute programmes in sustainability. In: Fifth International Conference on Interdisciplinary Socal Sciences, 2010-08-02 - 2010-08-05.

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It is intended that this paper add to the current literature and case studies detailing good practice lessons in embedding and promoting education for sustainable development within Higher Education Institutions (HEI's). At the mid-point of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) it is crucial that educators, particularly HEI's, who are more autonomous in their policy making than pre-16 education, share their experiences and good practice methods of incorporating Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) within the curriculum. To this end, the paper describes research that has taken place at the University of Strathclyde since January 2009, with the aim of developing a framework for university-wide, cross disciplinary research and postgraduate teaching in the area ESD. The vision for the Strathclyde Masters programme in Sustainability (SMS) is introduced as the objective for the three main stages of the research which have been undertaken: (i) a review of current thinking in ESD, (ii) a structured consultation programme and (iii) the creation of both a current and future 'sustainability map' showing postgraduate provision of ESD within the University. The narrative is preceded by a brief summary of the definitions of sustainable development (SD) before exploring the concept of ESD and its inherent disciplinary nature. The paper then examines the role that universities play in addressing the challenges of SD and describes the achievements that have established the University of Strathclyde to be a leader in the field of ESD. The review of current thinking in ESD uses literature and case studies detailing initiatives to embed ESD within Higher Education Institutions, to draw on recurring themes, graduate attributes and associated pedagogies. The paper then details the conclusions drawn from the initial multi-stakeholder consultation process involving external stakeholders, students, academic staff and the university's professional services. In addition, the model 'Sustainability Map' is presented offering an overview of postgraduate provision of ESD within the institution as a whole, alongside sample details of the courses offered and contributing departments.