The National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) 2014-2020 (Department of Education and Skills, 2014) aims to ‘ensure that education…equips leaners with the relevant knowledge, the key dispositions and skills and the values that will motivate and empower them throughout their lives to become informed citizens who take action for a more sustainable future.’ Higher education was identified as a priority action area where ‘disciplinary silos, a lack of specific ESD content and concerns about the preparedness of lecturers to facilitate the type of participatory learning that is required for effective ESD’ were identified as barriers to implementing a whole institution approach.
This T&L initiative aims to:
• Develop an educational framework to facilitate a transition from learning ABOUT sustainability (accommodative) using narrow ‘bolt-on’ discipline-specific approaches to learning FOR sustainability (reformative) where the campus operations, curriculum and institute policy begin to be reconceptualised to capacity-building learning AS sustainability (transformative) (Sterling, 2013) through experiential learning communities of practice to bring about whole institutional change
• Experiment with curriculum design and content, pedagogical approaches, assessment strategies to pilot participatory learning ‘interventions’ that will create cognitive, affective and behavioural learning opportunities to students and staff
• Identify and evaluate synergies between the formal and informal (‘hidden’) curricula and research activities using a place-based and living laboratory-based pedagogical green campus framework to design and pilot experiential, interdisciplinary and incidental learning opportunities
• Identify possible synergies between academic practice, institute culture and community need to create experiential reciprocal lifelong learning opportunities for local ‘Sustainability in Practice’ initiatives
The core project coordinator team will consist of Dr. Mark Kelly (Dublin Road campus), Dermot O’Donovan (Letterfrack campus) and John Scahill (Castlebar campus). In addition, members of the Green Campus Committees on the Dublin Road, Centre for Creative Arts (CCAM), Castlebar, Letterfrack and Mountbellew campuses will also be involved.