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Article
Publication date: 3 January 2022

Stephen Scoffham, Nicola Kemp and Adriana Consorte-McCrea

128

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Article
Publication date: 8 February 2021

Nicola Kemp and Stephen Scoffham

The growing awareness of climate change, biodiversity loss and the wider global environmental emergency has led to calls for decisive and immediate action from all…

Abstract

Purpose

The growing awareness of climate change, biodiversity loss and the wider global environmental emergency has led to calls for decisive and immediate action from all sections of society. This paper aims to consider the question of how universities should respond and what role they might best adopt in current circumstances.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a conceptual framework, the paradox model, which places sustainability within the contradictory, messy and uncertain terrain that characterises higher education (HE). This is derived from the own experience of leading sustainability within one UK university, as well as the continued engagement with educational theory and philosophy.

Findings

This paper identifies two fundamental contradictions or paradoxes facing those seeking to engage in sustainability in HE, namely, how to develop authentic sustainability responses within the context of existing HE structures and processes and how to reconcile the demand for immediate action with the much more gradual processes of education. This paper represents these two paradoxes as intersecting axes on a diagram, which creates four quadrants in which a diverse range of responses can be located. The point where these two axes intersect is particularly significant and provides a place from which to navigate responses both individually, collectively and institutionally.

Originality/value

This paper argues that wisdom provides a guiding principle for discerning which type of response might be appropriate in any given context. It may also indicate a route towards institutional change and underpin the vision of the ecological university of the future based on principles of civic responsibility and social justice.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 11 February 2021

Louise Livingstone

The paper aims to rediscover the subtle heart and discuss its importance in relation to conversations regarding sustainability.

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to rediscover the subtle heart and discuss its importance in relation to conversations regarding sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the imaginal approach of the author’s doctoral research, this paper is informed by the discourse of transpersonal psychology, attempting to open a space through which it becomes possible to perceive the heart differently.

Findings

This paper discusses the idea that knowledge as generated through the heart has been rendered subservient to knowledge generated through the mind/brain through a dominant/medical narrative (Bound Alberti, 2012). This means that the heart’s wisdom and the heart’s benevolent qualities cannot gain traction at the level at which decisions are made in society.

Research limitations/implications

While the heart is not unproblematic, and can carry notions of moral superiority, this paper is written as an appeal to create safe enough spaces to bring the heart back into conversation at the level of political discourse.

Practical implications

This paper suggests that it is the approach of the heart, the qualities and characteristics that the heart embodies, and the different way of being in the world that the heart makes possible, which could play an important role in guiding us towards a more sustainable world. When taken seriously, the heart offers a way of engaging with, and thinking about, ideas of relationship, wholeness and interconnection – all of which have been identified as important by numerous scholars in relation to engaging with global challenges (de Witt, 2016).

Social implications

This paper suggests that it is the approach of the heart and the different way of being in the world that the heart makes possible, which could play an important role in guiding humanity towards a more sustainable world.

Originality/value

Since the late 1900s, scholars have been calling for creative thinking in relation to engaging with the myriad of issues facing our planet, and this paper is written as a response to that call – creating a platform for the heart to speak and making a case for its importance in conversations relating to sustainability.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 23 September 2020

Simon Wilson

The purpose of this paper is to explore and evoke an old educational concept called “study”. This is learning which leads to love and love which leads to learning. It is a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore and evoke an old educational concept called “study”. This is learning which leads to love and love which leads to learning. It is a dynamic experience which engenders transformation whose telos is simultaneously endlessly knowable and unknowable. The paper argues that it unites humans with the world, the material world with the transcendent, speed with slowness and alignment with resistance, in a series of antinomic relationships which come together in the heart. Study, it is argued, should form the basis of true education and a truly sustainable relationship with the world.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper’s approach is informed by the Eastern Orthodox Christian theology of ecology, particularly its complex and holistic concept of the heart and perceiving with the heart. It revels in the antinomies fostered by this tradition.

Findings

The paper’s findings are inevitably provisional. They stress the need for beauty in educational practice and indicate that the form of study described may foster an individual sense of vocation, which can transform self and the world.

Originality/value

The paper hopes to contribute to a re-orientation in education, sustainability and ecology.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 January 2021

Howard Thomas, Helen Ougham and Dawn Sanders

The present paper aims to examine the concept of “plant blindness” in the context of current sustainability debates. “Plant blindness” was the term introduced in 1999 by…

Abstract

Purpose

The present paper aims to examine the concept of “plant blindness” in the context of current sustainability debates. “Plant blindness” was the term introduced in 1999 by the botanists and educators James H Wandersee and Elisabeth E Schussler to describe what they saw as a pervasive insensitivity to the green environment and a general neglect of plants on the part of biology education.

Design/methodology/approach

The fundamental importance of plants for life on Earth and the socio-educational challenges of redacted awareness of this importance are considered. Also, the diverse physiological, psychological, philosophical, cultural and geopolitical origins and consequences of indifference to plants in relation to aspects of sustainability agendas are examined with special reference to education.

Findings

An examination of the outcomes of a range of research and practical initiatives reveals how multidisciplinary approaches to education and public engagement have the potential to address the challenge of “plant blindness”. The need for these opportunities to be reflected in curriculums is not widely appreciated, and the socio-economic forces of resistance to confronting plant neglect continue to be formidable.

Originality/value

Plant blindness is a relatively new field of research, and the full breadth of its implications are only gradually becoming apparent. If the present paper contributes to positioning plants as an essential element in sustainability education and practice, it will have met its objective.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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