I'm off to St George's House again today for another 24 hours thinking about the SDGs. This event is focusing on HE and FE and is complementary to the event that Jamie Agombar and I ran before Christmas. This time Jamie is working with Rehema White from the University of St Andrews and LfS Scotland.
As a consequence, the make up of the group is significantly different from the one that focused on (really) young people. The programme says:
This is a 24 hour programme that offers a space for discussion and exchange in relation to the SDGs and education, particularly within colleges and universities (Further and Higher Education: FHE). It ... has the following aims:
To offer a safe space for a range of stakeholders to explore the possible implications of the SDGs for FHE
To raise awareness of the SDGs in FHE
To share good practice and ideas in relation to the SDGs and for ESD more widely, for Universities and Colleges
To contextualize the SDGs within wider trends in FHE and in sustainability practice
To create a vision and begin to outline a strategy to achieve this vision for FHE in UK
The programme is configured to permit many voices to be heard and to display the plurality of perspectives from consultation participants. Some important perspectives were not included in the programme but we hope these individuals can contribute through a wider overview within the discussion sessions. We have tried to create some interactive sessions to allow all voices to be heard. We spend much of the first afternoon setting the context and then in the second day we open up for more space for debate and greater focus on outcomes and potential future directions of action, individually and collectively.
Personally, I'm hoping that the space won't be so safe it excludes controversial views. Looking at who is going, that seems unlikely. It will be interesting to see the extent to which those attending share the positive view of ESD that's presented in the background papers. For example:
- "The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2015) enabled concerted local action and catalysed more global interactions. Subsequent to this successful Decade, a Global Action Programme has been rolled out to continue to produce, share and embed knowledge in this area."
- "At a UK level, the QAA produced guidelines to support embedding of ESD and devolved administrations and a number of network organisations and NGOs, together with outstanding examples of good practice, have continued to promote and extend the concept and practice of ESD in tertiary education."
- "Education for sustainable development (ESD) has been promoted not merely as a mechanism by which to convey facts about the resources we use and the inequalities between societies. Rather, it can be a route to enhanced forms of learning overall, in which transformative rather than transmissive approaches predominate, experiential learning and critical pedagogy are facilitated and real world examples exemplify theory and demonstrate the relevance of learning. ESD is no longer seen to be radical."
That said, I do agree with the last sentence (above). However, this is surely because hardly anyone has ever heard of ESD outside its small supporter group.