Education and Learning for Sustainable Development

Environmental education

Around the globe environmental education is seen as a means to help citizens become environmentally knowledgeable, skilled and dedicated people who are willing to work individually and collectively, toward achieving a balance between the quality of life and the quality of the environment. Environmental education thus is regarded a multi-disciplinary form of formal, non-formal and informal education that focuses on nature, environment and society as interdependent and inseparable entities. Through its courses and research in this field ECS has over 20 years of experience in environmental education.

Questions that have been addressed over the years and continue to be addressed include:

  • When can we call something ‘environmental education’, and how does it compare to other social instruments and emerging educations such as development education, peace education and health education?
  • How can environmental education contribute to sustainable living? What are key didactical and pedagogical characteristics of successful environmental education?
  • What are the ethical and philosophical considerations of education about, and above all, for the environment?
  • What educational strategies are most appropriate for the development of sustainability that is based on the empowerment and action competence of local communities?

A key course ECS contributes to is ECS-31806 Applied Environmental Education and Communication.

Social learning and sustainable development

Social learning can be considered a way to create a ‘learning system’ in which people learn from each other and collectively become more capable of dealing with setbacks, stress, insecurity, complexity and risks. Such a system needs people who not only accept one another’s differences but are also able to put these differences to use. More and more often, ‘social learning’ is introduced in organisations and companies as a means to actively involve people in far-reaching processes of change. There are various ways to describe social learning, but it is essentially about bringing together people of various backgrounds and with different values, perspectives, knowledge and experiences, both from inside and outside the group or organisation, in order to come to a creative quest for answers to questions for which no ready-made solutions are available.

The most important characteristics of social learning are:

  • it is about learning from one another together,
  • it is assumed that we can learn more from one another if we do not all think alike or act alike, in other words: we learn more in heterogeneous groups than we do in homogenous groups,
  • it is about creating trust and social cohesion, precisely in order to become more accepting and to make use of the different ways in which people view the world,
  • it is about creating ‘ownership’ with respect to both the learning process as well as the solutions that are found, which increases the chance that things will actually take place, and
  •  it is about collective meaning and sense making.

The recently established (April 2009) Endowed Chair in Social Learning and Sustainable Development looks at the role of social learning in heterogeneous communities of learners that seek to contribute to a world that is more sustainable than the one currently in prospect. The Chair is supported by the Dutch inter-governmental programme on Learning for Sustainable Development which is executed by SenterNovem. Chairholder is Professor Arjen Wals

A key course in the field of social learning is ECS- 90306 Social Learning and Sustainable Development

Minor Environmental Education

ECS offers the Minor Environmental Education (24 ects) consisting of the courses:

Empowerment for Sustainability

At this moment in our history we are confronted more than ever with increasing environmental, economic and societal challenges. Even though the policy agenda, the scientific community, Nobel laureates and the media promote and talk about sustainability, we are witnessing little or no societal and environmental change. Apparently, we still need to learn to walk our talk of sustainability. Inevitably, the madness of our world today invite us to re-think about our mindsets and actions.

The course Empowerment for Sustainability aims to inspire and to equip you, students, to walk the talk of sustainability. Firstly, it engages you to explore the concept of (un)sustainability and to distinguish paradigms and mindsets impacting the individual, society and the environment. Secondly, it exposes you to the power of your own agency and supports you to uncover your potential through which you can contribute to a sustainable world. Thirdly, it supports you to develop change agency competences for walking the talk of sustainability, namely entrepreneurship, communication, personal leadership and self-sustainability competences. This course aims to be transformative by integrating theory, reflexive thinking & action learning. 

For more information please read about the course ECS-53506 Empowerment for Sustainability or contact the course coordinator Valentina Tassone.

More information Global Educators:

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