The problem of ESD Groupthink

Posted in: Comment, New Publications

The reason the QAA's latest ESD Guidance is such an egregious irrelevance must have something to do with the narrow range of people whom it choses to be advised by.  Here are the job titles of the university-based members of the advisory group responsible for the guidance:

  • Associate Professor in Education for Sustainable Development
  • Professor of Environmental and Sustainable Design for the Built Environment
  • Professor of Outdoor, Environmental & Sustainability Education
  • Deputy Head (Education), School of Geography and Environmental Science
  • Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Environment and Sustainability
  • Professor of Sustainable Management and Education for Sustainable Development
  • Professor of Environmental Education
  • Professor of Sustainability and Computer Systems
  • Professor of Sustainability in Higher Education
  • Director of Sustainability
  • University Director of Learning and Teaching
  • Associate Professor Sustainable Education

All very eminent and distinguished people, of course, but there's a pattern here.

Where are the academic subject specialists in, say, economics, international development, chemical / electrical engineering, politics, biotechnology, agriculture, and management, and the many other areas where teaching about sustainability is a daily event?  UK universities are full of such people, but none were on the advisory group.  You have to wonder why.

Might it be because none were true believers – that is, members of that select, trusted, elite, insider group who can see the ESD light shimmering forth across the darkling plain?

Posted in: Comment, New Publications


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  • Agreed. It’s a list of the converted and probably dedicated to the mission whereas it should include those whose main focus is elsewhere. At least it would enlarge the perspective of views

  • I recall my involvement in the PP4SD initiative, which brought together diverse members of professional bodies, and thinking that they were the ones who collectively held the answers, and not the ‘ESD experts’ preaching to them.