We provide teacher training courses that teaches university lecturers how to integrate sustainable development into their courses, and programme directors and managers how to integrate sustainable development into their programmes.
The material in the courses draw from the particular challenges that relate to teaching sustainable development as the subject. This is indeed a difficult task, and something that many teachers struggle with. From a general point of view, we consider three building blocks that each has to be given careful attention:
- Teaching basic knowledge and facts: some historical background such as the Brundtland commission and the UN conferences from Stockholm (1972) and Rio de Janeiro (1992) to more recent climate conferences eg. Paris (2015); the triple bottom line and the three pillars of sustainability; basics around the Sustainable Development Goals from Agenda 2030; and some terms and abbreviations that we recognise students should definitely know about, eg. LCA, CSR, CO2e etc.
- Systems thinking: the world consists of dynamic systems and it is only when students recognise the basics of how systems work that we can truly dig into discussing potential solutions to global issues. It is an extremely strong and important step on the students ladder of understanding, when they realise that they should go beyond linear thinking: that A leads to B, which leads to C that in turn makes D happen – but realising that when D actually affects back on A there is a feedback loop forming! And that feedback loops can be reinforcing development making it happen much faster than first anticipated – or dampening it, making it tremendously slow. This is where we introduce terms such as resilience, system collapses, tipping points, threshold effects, the tragedy of the commons, and perhaps some game theory such as the prisoner’s dilemma.
- Normative aspects and perspectives: sustainable development is a subject that is intrinsically driven by normative conceptions, values and opinions, differing stakeholder perspectives, and conflicts of interest. This is also an intrinsic part of any society and addressing societal issues such as sustainability related issues must include a deep discussion about conflicting views. We advocate teaching respect: to respect views that conflict with your own. We address that differences between individuals and organisations is something that we can draw strength from.
To address these three building blocks in a classroom is not straightforward. However, it is tremendously important.
In our teacher training courses, we discourse these issues. We also cover practical planning and course development issues for making the integration relevant to a specific course subject. We go through how to write intended learning outcomes for sustainable development, and how to align those with classroom activities and assessment. We also discuss how to plan on the programme level, to integrate sustainable development as a red thread through the programme – in this work we use the concept of the ‘virtual course plan’. Finally, we also mention how the teacher can use the digital and physical teaching material that Snowflake Education provides, and how to make the most of it.
Please contact us now for inquiries.