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Sustainability in higher education curricula by Paul Prinsloo

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Sustainability in higher education curricula: challenges and choices

Sustainability in higher education curricula: challenges and choices

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  • 1. By Paul Prinsloo Background image from Stoffberg & Prinsloo, 2009. Climate change. A guide for corporates. Unisa Press & Trialogue, Pretoria. Image ©Shutterstock
  • 2. 2 Overview of the presentation • The issue is no longer should we, but how… • Sharing some points of departure • Challenges inherent in the scientific discourses and media representations of issues in sustainability; challenges in developing curricula addressing sustainability issues, and choosing an appropriate pedagogy • (In)conclusions
  • 3. 3 The issue is no longer should we, but how… • In 2008 Unisa signs the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) – second university in Africa and the first in South Africa • Early 2009 Unisa‟s council decides to develop a compulsory separate module on issues of ethics, accountability and corporate citizenship • At the end: Not separate but embedded • Unisa Curriculum Policy (2009) – Statement on graduateness
  • 4. 4 Ten UNGC principles covering four areas: human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti- corruption. United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)Principles Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges Principle 8: Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies
  • 5. 5 Unisa graduates (i) are independent, resilient, responsible and caring citizens who are able to fulfil and serve in multiple roles in their immediate and future local, national and global communities (ii) have a critical understanding of their location on the African continent with its histories, challenges and potential in relation to globally diverse contexts Unisa Statement on Graduateness (2010/2012)
  • 6. 6 Unisa Statement on Graduateness (2010) (cont.) (iii) are able to critically analyse and evaluate the credibility and usefulness of information and data from multiple sources in a globalised world with its ever increasing information and data flows and competing worldviews (iv) know how to apply their discipline-specific knowledges competently, ethically and creatively to solve real-life problems (v) are critically aware of their own learning and developmental needs and future potential
  • 7. 7 Therefore… The issue is no longer „if‟ we should address sustainability, but how, how far, by whom, how deep, what to include on which level and how to assess graduate literacy in sustainability…
  • 8. 8 1. Environmental damage and the impacts of climate change are not equally distributed 2. These changes will not affect all people equally 3. Individuals and groups of peoples‟ vulnerability is embedded in social-political realities and relations 4. Environmental changes are often mutually constitutive, exponential, non-linear and unpredictable (unknown unknowns) 5. Interventions to address or intervene may themselves exacerbate, maintain and increase inequalities 6. The discourses of sustainability are where the local and global meets Some points of departure
  • 9. 9 Mapping some of the challenges • The issue is not should we, but how… • Some points of departure • Challenges in the scientific discourses and media representations of issues in sustainability; challenges in developing curricula addressing sustainability issues, and choosing an appropriate pedagogy
  • 10. 10 Challenges in the sustainability discourse • The meta or grand narratives of the day • Multi, inter and transdisciplinary • Sustainability as a „wicked‟ problem • Technical and scientific terminology concepts, claims and counter-claims • The claim makers and those authorised to speak • The political nature of evidence
  • 11. 11 Mapping (some of) the meta or grand narratives of the day 1. Rampant individualism and predatory capitalism (Giroux 2003). Are our graduates nothing more than hominems economicus (Mintzberg, Simons & Basu,2002)? 2. Higher education as „Academies of the apocalypse‟ (James, 2009) or speaking truth to power? Have we sold out to the highest bidder? (Giroux 2003) 3. Do we prepare students for complex or supercomplex world (Barnett 2000)? 4. The scientific discourse are only for the selected few – the need for interlocutors
  • 12. 12 Geo-political power relations Gender Culture Legal Ideology Race The politics of evidence Religion Economic power relations Environmental Technology FuturePresentPast Mapping the discourses surrounding sustainability Language
  • 13. 13 Sustainability as wicked problem Rittel and Webber (1973), Conklin (2006) … • The problem is not understood until after the formulation of a solution. • Solutions are not right or wrong. • Every wicked problem is essentially novel and unique and once-off • Wicked problems have no given alternative solutions http://chrisriedy.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/tangle_2560x1440.jpg?w=492&h=276
  • 14. 14 http://www.hlswatch.com/wp- content/uploads/2010/07/Cynefin-Adapted.jpg The Cynefin framework (Snowden & Boone, 2007)
  • 15. 15 • Multi, inter and transdisciplinary • Sustainability as a „wicked‟ problem • Technical and scientific terminology concepts, claims and counter-claims • The claim makers and those authorised to speak • The political nature of evidence
  • 16. 16 Sustainability Whose science do you believe? (Brewer & Ley, 2013) • The credibility of the messenger • The role of trust • Who do we trust/believe? • News media sources • Science magazines, science websites, science television • Academic scientists Media representations of outlier views (Boykoff, 2013) • Alarmists, global warming fundamentalists versus contrarians, skeptics, denialists • Claim makers versus authorised speakers • The involvement of those with vested interests such as oil companies, the military, etc • The role of ideology • The role of the media – “the media don’t tell people what to think, but they tell them what to think about” Mass communication and public understanding of environmental problems – Stamm, Clark & Eblacas, 2000 Who/what shall we believe?
  • 17. 17 Topic on YouTube (31 July 2013) Number of results Fracking is safe 8,890 Fracking is bad 52,000 Fracking is good 52,600 Fracking is dangerous 5,830 Environmental impact of fracking 7,140 Water safety and fracking 217,000 Safe fracking 246,000 Hydraulic fracturing 42,200 Hydraulic fracturing water on fire 7,960 Hydraulic fracturing lies 3,300 YouTube and hydraulic fracturing (fracking)
  • 18. 18 Topic on YouTube (29 July 2013) Number of results Climate change 1,680,000 Climate change is a hoax 240,000 Climate change is bullshit 4,020,000 Climate change is real 322,000 Climate change is fake 4,000,000 Climate change impacts 52,000 Climate change is natural 245,000 Climate change is a myth 82,200 Climate change is a fact 296,000 Climate change: fact or fiction 127,000 YouTube and climate change
  • 19. 19 12, 600,000 results (on 31 July 2013) The plot thickens: the Pacific Northwest tree octopus http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8354/8330186 402_534713c027_z.jpg http://ahklrox.weebly.com/uploads/1/1/9/8/11 989255/6118462.jpg?342
  • 20. 20 Recapping our journey so far • The issue is not should we, but how… • Some points of departure • Challenges in the scientific discourses and media representations of issues in sustainability; challenges in developing curricula addressing sustainability issues, and choosing an appropriate pedagogy
  • 21. 21 Pertinent curriculum choices in addressing climate change 1. A separate module/course or embedded across the curricula? 2. What does sustainability literacy include/exclude? When will we consider a graduate to be literate? Is sustainability literacy enough? 3. Are our faculty ready? Are our students ready? 4. When does teaching about sustainability become indoctrination? (Ashley, 2005)
  • 22. Context/ epistemologies/ ontologies of the discipline/ programme Context/ epistemologies/ ontologies of the institution/ management/ department Personal contexts and epistemologies/ ontologies of students – capital/ habitus Personal contexts and epistemologies/ ontologies of lecturers/ authors/ curriculum team The sustainability discourse – evidence/ contestations Macro/global PESTEL developments/shifts Local application context - PESTEL developments/shifts The curriculum as contact zone…
  • 23. 23 Armchair pontificators are persons “who critique but who do not have the motivation or skills to help solve societal problems” (Rowe 2002) versus positive change agents who • cope effectively with change, ambiguity, uncertainty • care about societal problems and solutions • envision and are willing to help create positive scenarios for the future, • experience a strengthened political efficiency, and know how to effectively implement change (Rowe 2002).
  • 24. 24 Characteristics of change agents Svanström, Lozano-García and Rowe (2008) 1. An understanding of the ethical responsibility, towards present and future generations 2. A knowledge of contemporary issues 3. An understanding of the carrying capacity of ecosystems, in order to sustain human life on earth 4. An understanding of social responsibility as a future professional and as a citizen 5. An understanding of the impact that human activities have on the planet, regarding sustainable and unsustainable resources appropriation 6. Knowledge of global trends that impact the life quality of present and future generations
  • 25. 25 Recapping our journey so far • The issue is not should we, but how… • Some points of departure • Challenges in the scientific discourses and media representations of issues in sustainability; challenges in developing curricula addressing sustainability issues, and choosing an appropriate pedagogy
  • 26. 26 Research by Stamm, Clark and Eblecas (2000) COVERAGE UNDERSTANDING ACTION
  • 27. 27 The problem-path model (Stamm et al 2000) Stage 0 Unaware of situation Stage 1 Heard about situation, but can‟t say if it is a problem or not Stage 2a Situation is NOT a problem Stage 2b Situation IS a problem Stage 3 Thinking about solutions Stage 4 Identification of solutions
  • 28. 28 5 Critique of the problem-path model Stage 0 Unaware of situation Stage 1 Heard about situation, but can‟t say if it is a problem or not Stage 2a Situation is NOT a problem Stage 2b Situation IS a problem Stage 3 Thinking about solutions Stage 4 Identification of solutions Disengagement
  • 29. 29 2 A future-oriented impact model Stage 0 Unaware of situation Stage 1 Heard about situation, but can‟t say if it is a problem of not Stage 2a Situation is NOT a problem Stage 2b Situation IS a problem Disengagement Stage 3 Thinking about solutions Stage 4 Identifi- cation of solutions Stage 5 ACTION Armchair pontificators Change agents
  • 30. 30 Recapping our journey • The issue is not should we, but how… • Some points of departure • Mapping some of the challenges e.g. challenges in the scientific discourses and media representations of issues in sustainability; challenges in developing curricula addressing sustainability issues, and choosing an appropriate pedagogy
  • 31. 31 If not now, when, and who? “the media don‟t tell people what to think, but they tell them what to think about” (Boykoff, 2013) Will higher education take up the challenge to empower students to engage, question, explore and disrupt the meta-narratives of consumerism and selfishness?
  • 32. 32 “We‟re the first generation that has had the power to destroy the planet. Ignoring that risk can only be described as reckless” Sir Nicholas Stern .
  • 33. Thank you Dr Paul Prinsloo Directorate: Curriculum and Learning Development (DCLD) University of South Africa prinsp@unisa.ac.za Twitter: @14prinsp http://opendistanceteachingandlearning.wordpress.com Background image from Stoffberg & Prinsloo, 2009. Climate change. A guide for corporates. Unisa Press & Trialogue, Pretoria. Image ©Shutterstock
  • 34. 34 • The images in the headers are copyrighted to Unisa • The copyright of the images used in the presentation is acknowledged does not belong to the author • This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Copyright
  • 35. 35 Ashley, M. (2005). Tensions between indoctrination and the development of judgement: the case against early closure. Environmental Education Research, 11(2),187–197. Barnett, R. (2000). University knowledge in an age of supercomplexity. Higher Education, 40, 409 — 422. Boykoff. M.T. (2013). Public enemy no. 1?: Understanding media representations of outlier views on climate change. American Behavioral Scientist, 57, 796—817. Brewer, P.R., & Ley, B.L. (2013). Whose science do you believe? Explaining trust in sources of scientific information about the environment. Science Communication, 35, 115—137. DOI: 10.1177/1075547012441691. Conklin, J. (2006). Dialogue mapping : building shared understanding of wicked problems. Chichester, England: Wiley. Giroux, H.A. (2003) Selling out higher education, Policy Futures in Education, 1(1), 179— 311. James, A. (2009, April 7). Academies of the apocalypse? Business schools have, so far, escaped the wrath directed against bankers – but should they bear some blame? The Guardian. Mintzberg, H., Simons, R., & Basu, K., (2002). Beyond selfishness. MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall, 67—74. References
  • 36. 36 References (cont) Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M.M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences 4, 155–169. Retrieved from http://www.uctc.net/mwebber/Rittel+Webber+Dilemmas+General_Theory_of_Pl anning.pdf Rowe, D. (2002). Environmental literacy and sustainability as core requirements: success stories and models. Retrieved from http://ncseonline.org/efs/DebraRowe.pdf . Snowden, D.J., & Boone, M.E. (2007). A leader’s framework for decision making. Harvard Business Review, November, 1—9. Stamm, K.R., Clark, F., & Eblacas, P.R. (2000). Mass communication and public understanding of environmental problems: the case of global warming. Public Understanding of Science, 9, 219–237. Svanström, M., Lozano-García, F.J., & Rowe, D. (2008). Learning outcomes for sustainable development in higher education. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 9(3),339–351. Unisa. 2010/2012. Curriculum Policy.

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