Sharing a Passion for Support

We met with a new international group, led by Kent Williams assistant professor at Rowe Business School Dalhousie University, to collaborate on the creation of a workshop to generate new possibilities in transformation of education for sustainability. The group shared passions for the work we are doing and the lives we are living (many food lovers present!), and the inspirational experiences we have had from such supportive groups. Thank you to Kent for organising the group and thank you to everyone who are collaborating on this great adventure. We look forward to the work we will be doing with the 3-horizon thinking approach in our next meetings very soon. What is happening now? Where do we want to go? What transformations can happen?

I also took part in a workshop hosted by UNESCO, with Dr. Jos Eussen and the OPEDUCA Project, presenting his ideas about how to disrupt and transform the education system to provide a student-centred approach to education. He advocated for the use of experiential learning and how organisations can be a great learning space for students of all ages to gain real-life experience in a collaborative learning experience with the teachers. We all learn as we investigate our curiosities to inspire transformations.

In a group of lecturers in Sweden I have been meeting with to discuss didactics in teaching for sustainability in higher education, we have been sharing our experiences with practical pedagogical activities that we have tried. We discussed the successes and the less successful experiences and reflected over how to improve the design of these activities. Learning from each other, sharing our experiences, we can learn how to adjust our work or take on whole new ideas to advance our education for sustainability.

Reza Sirjani, Associate Professor in Electronics Engineering at Karlstad University, shared his experiences using different pedagogical activities to inspire reflection work for sustainability with engineering students. One example was to include faculty from the history department to develop a class that reflects on history and its relationship to the course and program the students study, including insight through architecture. The activities are based in research and team work to develop reflective learning in a collaborative manner. Reza finds that reflective learning is important for engineering students and that lecturers and universities need to be brave to try new things and help change the education practice. For more examples, click the button below and read goal 9.

Johanna Bjöklund, associate professor in Food Biology at Örebro university, shared her experience with teaching through role play and experiential reflective work. One activity she discussed with us was a Biocapacity activity where the students are tasked with reflection work about land and boarders. Different guiding dialogue helps to form an understanding about the capacity of land and population to help the students to question, should we have boarders? Similarly, discussions about land and water conservation emerge. Dialogue helps to stimulate the students’ ideas about whether more of the worlds’ population should be invited to live where there is plenty of land or should a system of selling produce be used? The complexities of these issues also shed light on wicked problems of sustainability. For more examples, click the button below and read goal 13.

One way to help students take on other perspectives is to visit off-campus sites to listen to others’ experiences. Reflection and emotions, intrapersonal competence, can be developed when the students connect to real-life situations, which can create dialogue about ethical natures. Sharing experiences with teachers about learning activities that have been tried and tested across disciplines can be a great inspiration for us all to help advance education for sustainability. What support groups have you been involved with to share your experiences of teaching for sustainability? What was good about this support group? How would you like to be supported in your work to advance your sustainability teaching?

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