The Whole Student Approach as Global Citizens

We have continued our dialogue with Dr. Jos Eussen again this week, who very kindly introduced us to a project in Helsingborg Council, in Sweden. The education department has been working with ways to advance education for sustainability in Gymnasium schools (six-form college or years 12 & 13 for UK residents/ high-school for US residents). Applying education for sustainability as early as possible is of course very important, especially when considering current worrying trends that we have in Sweden and other countries. The work that the Helsingborg Council are doing is an important recognition that much more can be done to help students create a stronger confidence in their competencies to work with sustainability challenges.

We want to expand our support for teachers to those who work with the students that may be about to start their university experience. Pre-university schools can help to better understand the students’ competency for sustainability before they start university. If we can work with pre-university teachers we can get a better understanding about how to continue the students’ education for sustainability in a learning progression approach.

Our talks also came back to the inclusion of organisations in the project to help provide real-life sustainability challenges. We find that small family-owned organisations can have a natural sustainability approach to their business activities. In an earlier pilot-study we spoke with several organisations in the region that revealed what sustainability meant for them and how family values (in terms of a natural sustainability approach) are a strong driver for the choices that they have made. We plan to speak further to family-owned business across Europe to find opportunities for collaborations with students and teachers.

Kent Williams, assistant professor at Rowe school of business at Dalhousie University, spoke with us this week about the land-based learning activities he conducts with the students to provide a whole student approach. He takes students on a 10-day excursion to a natural environment where they design their own nature experiment to reflect on sustainability challenges and what nature is to them. He includes discussions about indigenous knowledge and language and often includes a guest Elder to participate. Reciprocity and stewardship are concepts that drive the dialogue.

We also had the opportunity to present our Sustainbility Competence Mindset tool to several lecturers at John Mores Liverpool Univeristy. Fiona Armstrong-Gibbs, Victoria McCall, Julie Marshall, and Lisa Knight, each responsible for different programs, are working with ways to assess sustainbility in their MBA and executive programs. The tool that we provide can help measure the non-linear nature of mindset transformation for sustainability.

Therese Adam also shared her experiences working with policy and now lecturing about sustainability. Her years of work with decison making about the three dimesnsions of susatinable development (social, economic and environment) through the Development Diplomacy approach and her insights into the UN and UNESCO process were intriguing. Therese shared an expereince in a policy and diplomacy course designed to provide practical experience for students to develop negotiating skills and innovative solutions to a problem case. Learning how to negotiate, argue for what needs to be done, is an important skill for students to be able to act or create action oppourtunities.

There is much that can be learnt from traditional indigenous knowledge to help advance education for sustainability. Traditional knowledge can also be found in the process of leaving family-owned business to the next generation. How can we use the whole student-global citizen approach to help students to become the transition agents for sustainability? What activities have you used to help develop the whole student?

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