Successful Sustainable Development Education needs change of mindset

Who has the mandate for sustainability in your university or college?
May 14, 2014
Athens, Australia and misplaced admiration!
November 16, 2015

I came across this headline in the national paper of Malta where my mother lives and thought -when might we get a headline like this in the UK? Seems like a far off dream!

OK so it might be an EU junket, and having been at a workshop at the World Environmental Education Congress in Marrakech a couple of years ago I know it is not all rosy there. The presenter was an academic from the University of Malta and his take on politicians and the conversations he has had was hilarious! It made me think we need this humour more often – even just to cope!

But maybe we do need some alternative thinking too. After all the inventor of lateral thinking and all sorts of other ways of thinking strategically, Edward De Bono, is also Maltese and lectured at the same university.

I am curious about this concept of changing our thinking to make change happen. And I mean our own – not changing other people’s thinking, which is what people often think this means. So here are some basic questions to start with:

Are you doing the same thing you were doing 5 or 10 years ago? Why? What change is it making? How are you measuring that change?

Who are you working with? Are they the same people or new people? Are other people copying what you do? Are the numbers increasing of people involved? How do you know?

Do you think there is a magic bullet that will really help ESD?

I am curious about these questions especially in light of all the recent thinking I have read about on new economics, social justice and free information is post capitalism. Given that the last 5 years has seen the erosion of paid ESD work, reduction in grants for radical education and the ongoing proliferation of ESD products (that can be branded) what might the future hold? How can people continue to work in this arena and earn a living when it is so devalued economically? How can we make a bigger difference in society when so few of us are working at the change making end of ESD (transformative) rather than at the adaptive end (fitting in with the current system)? How can we multiple our efforts?

These and other questions continue to bother me and SEEd. Join us if you want to be part of the new drives that SEEd will be undertaking. These include a campaign to make ESD every child’s right throughout their education career, and further enhancing whole institutional approaches through our role as a key partner with UNESCO on their Global Action Programme for the next 4 years, or further strengthening the collaborative work of the Sustainable Schools Alliance to make it more impactful.

But as a starter we are gathering all evidence of ESD practice and trying to make it freely available. Our summer intern Fiona has made a great start. So keep checking our website or send us your evidence. Maybe this is part of the new dreamed of post capitalist economic systems?

Actually what I think it is about is our change in thinking about evidence and what difference we are making. It feels like we are moving away from hoping this will work to actually sharing and copying the most effective practice. It’s not about lots of new ideas but using our limited resources in a more targeted way for maximum impact. To do that we have to share and commit to being in an ESD community. Facilitating this has been the task SEEd set itself 7 years ago and it still seems worthwhile!

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