Transformative approaches for trans-disciplinary sustainability curriculum design

Gallou, Eirini (2022) Transformative approaches for trans-disciplinary sustainability curriculum design. In: ICSD 2022, 2022-09-16 - 2022-09-20.

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This paper aims at addressing challenge sin developing novel ESD curricula in higher education, aiming at furthering policy and practice towards sustainability oriented inter and trans-disciplinarity in teaching and learning. Achieving trans disciplinarity in sustainability programmes in mainstream institutions has been considered particularly difficult, as it usually stumbles upon mis-fitting between integrative approaches (and participatory pedagogies on one hand), and rather traditional discipline-based university structures and methods on the other. With this in mind, the paper discusses experiences and lessons-learnt from developing a new MSc curriculum in the University of Strathclyde, a traditionally technically-oriented university, aiming at combining cross-faculty resources to deliver unique trans-disciplinary education on sustainable development. The paper will specifically discuss the skills-oriented approach for developing the curriculum, linking with 21st century skills (critical and systemic thinking, dealing with complexity) and typical employers’ calls for graduates holding ‘real world’ and ‘soft’ skills that allow collaboration, design thinking and flexibility. Secondly the paper discusses key pedagogical approaches that can be integrated into such curricula to ensure they are driving problem-based learning and active learning through practice-based activities or real-world working experience. In conclusion recommendations for actions and approaches new lecturers and learning development teams can take to deal with major challenges described above will be developed. The paper aspires to contribute to the body of resources available to expand ESD within higher education and transform curricula.