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ERIC Number: EJ801610
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 17
ISSN: ISSN-1467-6370
Going "out There": Learning about Sustainability in Place
Alvarez, Amaya; Rogers, Judy
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, v7 n2 p176-188 2006
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe how the authors shifted from teaching about sustainability as though it was fixed and definable, to a way of learning about the multiple ways in which sustainability is contested and understood. This shift involved both an epistemological shift in their understanding of sustainability and a shift in teaching practice. Design/methodology/approach: The paper reflects on the authors' teaching practice and describes a shift from an investigative to an interpretative approach. This shift resulted from taking students out in the field to hear from land managers and community members in regional and rural Victoria about how they understand sustainability. Central to the shift was recognising the value of the learning occurring "out there". Findings: The authors argue that had the students remained in the classroom learning about sustainability with community and its socio-environmental context at a distance the shift that occurred in the teaching and learning experience would have been less likely to occur. The authors now see themselves as facilitating a process where learners (both teachers and students) are exposed to different understandings of sustainability and are able to recognise the messy and complex reality of sustainability on-the-ground. Practical implications: Much of what is going on in sustainability education is prescriptive: environmental targets, audits, energy and water efficiency, sustainable design mapped on to the curriculum of various disciplines and fields. This paper highlights the need to broaden out the sustainability education agenda, to fully examine how it is taught, why and what is its value to learning. Originality/value: This paper describes the development of a course that explores the complexity of on the ground sustainability in regional and rural Australia. Such an approach to teaching about sustainability is innovative in that it challenges taken for granted assumptions about what is and is not sustainable by exposing students to conversations with ordinary people making sense of and attempting to negotiate change in their lives. In this learning experience sustainability becomes a complex set of discourses and practices that interweave through and over people's lives rather than a check list of appropriate practices. (Contains 1 table and 2 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia