1st Edition

Education for Sustainable Development What was achieved in the DESD?

Edited By Roger Firth, Maggie Smith Copyright 2017
    162 Pages
    by Routledge

    162 Pages
    by Routledge

    To integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning was the overarching goal of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). This, it was believed, would ‘save the planet’, encouraging behaviour changes to allow for the development of a more sustainable and just society for all. Awareness of sustainable development has risen enormously in recent years, challenging us, as individuals and as families, workplaces, and communities (both local and global), to think about and act upon the major issue which we face.

    The Decade reaffirmed the United Nations’ commitment to the crucial role of education and learning in the pursuit of sustainable development, and the need for far-reaching changes in the way education is often practised. Of course, the very idea that education should be for something (whether sustainable development or anything else), remains as questionable as ever. Nevertheless the instigation of the Decade clearly recognised the need for intensified efforts to achieve sustainable development.

    This book reflects on the role and impact of the Decade in helping to reorient education towards sustainability, and looks forward, beyond the end of the Decade and its achievements, to contemplate the way ahead, giving special attention to case studies and the state of affairs in England. The authors offer different perspectives on the effectiveness and value of particular initiatives and practices that are responses to the Decade. This book was originally published as a special issue of The Curriculum Journal.

    Introduction – As the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development comes to an end: what has it achieved and what are the ways forward? Roger Firth and Maggie Smith

    1. Developing the sustainable school: thinking the issues through William Scott

    2. Eco-schooling and sustainability citizenship: exploring issues raised by corporate sponsorship John Huckle

    3. Exploring and developing student understandings of sustainable development Nicola Walshe

    4. Sustainable development, environmental education, and the significance of being in place Michael Bonnett

    5. Uncharted waters: voyages for Education for Sustainable Development in the higher education curriculum Alexandra Ryan and Daniella Tilbury

    6. A Practitioner’s Perspective – Missing the wood for the trees: systemic defects and the future of education for sustainable development Ken Webster


    Roger Firth is an Associate Professor of Geography Education in the Department of Education, and a Fellow of St Anne’s College, at the University of Oxford, UK. He has written widely on geography in education, knowledge and its impacts on curriculum, and pedagogy and environmental education. His recent research interest is inferentialist perspectives on conceptual development in geography classrooms.

    Maggie Smith is a lecturer on the PGCE course at Reading University, UK. Her research interests and publications focus on the practice of environmental and sustainable development education in schools. She is a past chair of the National Association of Environmental Education, and of the Geographical Association’s special interest group on environmental education. She has worked widely with organisations linked to environmental education.