Rendering sustainability visible

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I was struck by a message sent recently to the EAUC Mailbase:

"Through a programme analysis I have shown that the majority of our college programmes include aspects that are easily linked to the UN SDGs targets in some shape or form.  However, through student’s surveys I am still showing that students think their programmes are not teaching sustainable development etc."

The writer wondered if EAUC members might provide examples of awareness initiatives they have done to educate students that their programmes do include sustainable development.

The dilemma is understandable, but is it just a question of communications between university and students?  Could it be that the language used by the UN (never its greatest strength) is the problem?  Or maybe there are so many targets that the poor student gets understandably lost.  Perhaps the splitting of the 17 Goals into a gazillion targets means that the essential whole of the issue is never to be appreciated.

Or, maybe the problem lies in the course structure, materials and approach?  In a course on X, is the part on sustainability just tagged on in a way that might be seen as peripheral?  Or is it smeared across the degree so thinly as to be invisible?  – as opposed, say, to being knitted into core aspects that render it visible, impossible to avoid, and clearly important?  [*]

Or could it be that students are not experiencing sustainable development in the course in the terms that they understand it or want to understand it?

If this was my problem, I'd not be writing to EAUC, I'd be talking to the students.


Tagged, smeared, or knitted?  There are other metaphors available: stitched, woven, emulsified, embroidered, ... .  All seem domestic.


Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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  • Interesting commentary. We have had that problem with EE for decades with it being an add on. As David Orr always tried to point out, all education should be EE. The same is true with SD. An add on or a central focus? Unless a course is clearly defined as SD it is usually diluted within the context of the subject matter that is the content for a discipline. This merely exasperates the frustrations of trying to make SD a central focus of our lives and not just an add-on that is somehow meant to solve the problem from within the problem.