Fadeeva, Z. and Mochizuki, Y. (2010), "Guest editorial", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 11 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijshe.2010.24911daa.001Download as .RIS
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Article Type: Guest editorial From: International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Volume 11, Issue 4
About the Guest Editors
Zinaida FadeevaAssociate Fellow of the education for sustainable development team at United Nations University-Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS). She is a part of the Global RCE Service Centre. She undertakes research and policy studies in the area of education for sustainable development (ESD) and participates in development of the policy processes related to DESD. At the time of writing, Zinaida was a member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) expert group on ESD competencies for educators. Before joining UNU-IAS, she worked as a Research Associate at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University, Sweden. Her research activities were related to interorganizational environmental management, industry and sustainable development. Her current research interests include interorganisational learning, alternative models of consumption and production and policies that influence such models.
Yoko MochizukiPhD, is a Sociologist of Education. Prior to joining UNU-IAS, she was an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development, Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, and taught courses in Comparative Sociology of Education. Her current research focuses on the theory and practice of ESD and the sociology of international development.
This special issue on Competences for sustainable development and sustainability: significance and challenges for ESD is an integral part of the competences and capabilities for sustainable development initiative of the ESD programme of the UNU-IAS. As its key activities, the programme promotes research and actions to advance partnerships for ESD across geographic, knowledge and sectoral boundaries, mainly through promotion of Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) on ESD and Promotion of Sustainability in Postgraduate Education and Research Network (ProSPER.Net). ProSPER.Net is a growing academic alliance for ESD in the Asia-Pacific region, which currently consists of 19 leading higher education institutions in the region.
Working with higher education institutions which play key roles in 76 RCEs around the world (as of June 2010) and ProSPER.Net member institutions has convinced us of the need to go beyond talking about mainstreaming ESD and call for urgent and radical transformation of the higher education institution so that it remains (or becomes) an important stakeholder for creating resilient society now and in the future. With this in mind and in conjunction with the UNESCO World Conference on ESD: Moving into the Second Half of the Decade, we organized a “Closed Strategic Meeting on Competencies and Capabilities for Sustainable Development and ESD – focus on institutions of higher education” in Bonn, Germany, on 3 April 2009, in collaboration with the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development (SWEDESD). The preparatory material for and the results of this meeting have enriched our thinking about relations between competences for ESD and organizational and institutional processes, which led to development of critical projects that support such processes. For example, in order to develop a recognition and assessment framework for the organizational efforts of universities experimenting with innovative practices to enhance their roles in contributing to sustainability, ProSPER.Net has launched the Alternative University Appraisal Project that focuses on, among other things, scenarios for universities in the future, alternative research performance benchmarking and self-assessment.
There is a growing understanding that unless learning programmes designed for development of competences of individuals (be it competences of teachers, teacher educators, other professionals or students at different levels) and organizational capacities to work with competence approaches are supported by a diverse range of partners outside of the higher education system, these programmes could lose much of its power. Based on this understanding, the UNECE established an expert group on competencies in ESD to develop recommendations for policy and other decision-makers (UNECE (2009). Realizing the importance of the UNECE work as a powerful force shaping the institutional context for ESD planning and implementation, UNU-IAS joined this UNECE expert group, thereby explicitly linking our analytical work on ESD with policy work on ESD competences.
The contributors to this special issue advance our understanding of competence-related questions in a variety of important ways. They demonstrate how practices of programme design and implementation (Arjen E.J. Wals; Katja Brundiers, Arnim Wiek and Charles L. Redman; Peter Hopkinson and Peter James) and organizational developments (Katja Brundiers, Arnim Wiek and Charles L. Redman; Peter Hopkinson and Peter James) utililize competence-based approaches to ESD and education for sustainability. They also problematize and explore critical areas of ESD including interdisciplinarity (Jenneth Parker), culture and values (Konai Helu Thaman; Dimity Margaret Podger, Elena Mustakova-Possardt and Anna Reid) and collaborative learning (Arjen E.J. Wals; Katja Brundiers, Arnim Wiek and Charles L. Redman), covering different disciplines such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM; Peter Hopkinson and Peter James) and teacher education (Konai Helu Thaman). The authors highlight challenges and opportunities for evolutionary and revolutionary pathways to transformation of institutions of higher education. More comprehensive reference to authors’ contribution is provided by the lead article in this issue.
Our experiences with policy and development work, literature review including analysis of the articles constituting this special issue and numerous conversations with our colleagues – who deal with planning, implementation and assessment of various higher education initiatives and programmes in different parts of the world – have helped us arrive at one crucial conclusion. In order to add a further impetus to redefinition of the roles of higher education institutions in achieving sustainable development and the kinds of competences cultivated through higher education programmes, we need to strive towards a more coherent and multifaceted framework for designing, testing and assessing various pedagogical approaches to develop sustainability competences in various contexts. Such framework (rather than a model which specifies domains of competences or a list of core competences) should take into account not only competences of individuals but also organizational competences (demonstrated capacities of higher education institutions) and institutional capacities (enabling environments and facilities at sub-national, national, regional and international levels). Carefully designed, such framework would help us move, once and for all, beyond the constraining notion of competences as a narrow set of individualized knowledge and skills, and allow us to consider theoretical, normative, and empirical implications of higher educational programmes aiming to address sustainable development and sustainability.
Participants in this meeting included, among others, Frans Lenglet, Director of the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development (SWEDESD); Goolam Mohamedbhai, Secretary-General of the Association of African Universities (AAU); Hilligje van’t Land, International Association of Universities (IAU); Tichaona Pesanayi, South African Development Community-Regional Environmental Education Programme (SADC-REEP); Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Rhodes University; Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia; Akpezi Ogbuigwe, Head of Environmental Education and Training, UNEP; and Rupert Maclean, Former Director of UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre.
Zinaida Fadeeva, Yoko MochizukiGuest Editors
UNECE (2009), “Proposal for the establishment of an expert group on competences in education for sustainable development”, paper presented at Fourth Meeting, UNECE Steering Committee on Education for Sustainable Development, Geneva, 19-20 February