How can we best prepare young people to make decisions about living in sustainable ways?

Dr Sally Birdsall (centre), Curriculum and Pedagogy, with Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary) students Wing Kam and Jayne Herselman, Faculty of Education and Social Work.

Sustainability is imperative upon quality education for all people regardless of gender or ethnicity, and education can positively impact on the many complex, interrelated issues that need to be resolved, such as inequality, poverty and environmental degradation.

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) regards teachers as key agents of change and it is therefore critical for them to know how to teach sustainability. Education for sustainability enables learners to develop their knowledge or understandings, skills, attitudes and values so that they can make sustainable decisions about issues both personally and in collaboration with others. It involves building partnerships beyond educational institutions, including community groups and government agencies to enhance collaboration at local and regional levels. And it recognises that even young children have agency: students from early childhood through to tertiary education are not just citizens-in-waiting, rather all capable of taking action now.

Through our research we identify and develop pedagogies to enhance all of these features.