In the new Sustainability 2.0 era of education for sustainable development (ESD) transforming, curriculum remains a high interest topic, including in the UK. Among influential factors for progress, lecturer views on sustainable development and ESD in curriculum are important. In particular, the relationship between espoused views on sustainability and development and these views institutionalized into the curriculum require further investigation. Existing qualitative interview studies of lecturers identify a range of views about sustainable development and ESD but rarely focus on postgraduate environments nor use thematic discourse analysis.
This active interview study enrolled a cohort of academics (n = 21) teaching into ten postgraduate UK taught masters degrees. Using active interviews and thematic discourse analysis, this study focused lecturer accounts of translating sustainable development into ESD, student attitudes and characteristics and course nature and content in relation to institutional, disciplinary, personal and other drivers and discourses. Thematic discourse analysis and NVivo 12 the study identified themes and discourses arising from the interview accounts.
In addition to identifying echoes of previously identified themes, this study focuses on the influence of interviewer–interviewee interaction and the interrelated nature of themes developed from 972 substantive codes. These themes identify the key influences as institutional, personal and disciplinary perspectives, institutional contrasts and tensions; pragmatic and passionate student characteristics; flexible sustainability principles and definitions; and social and personal ethics, ideology and equity, as key factors. Despite varying in length and depth, interviewees all show a deep appreciation for the challenges of defining and teaching sustainable development in complex institutional circumstances.
Faculty accounts of sustainable development and ESD practice depend on personal ethics and experiences, disciplinary discourses and institutional drivers and arrangements. Rather than focusing on simple categorizations of views in abstract, progress toward transformational ESD should acknowledge the need for dialogue about the importance of a plurality of views and discourses.
Thematic discourse analysis of a multi-institutional cohort affords closer analysis of contextual institutional and identity factors influencing approaches to HESD. Academic views cannot be easily subcategorized into broad conservative or radical positions. Final discussion of the relevance of institutional theory to sustainability change is also new.
2016 Edinburgh University Fellowship at Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities (IASH).
Melles, G. (2019), "Views on education for sustainable development (ESD) among lecturers in UK MSc taught courses: Personal, institutional and disciplinary factors", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 115-138. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-02-2018-0032Download as .RIS
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