Higher Education and Sustainable Development : A model for curriculum renewal book cover
1st Edition

Higher Education and Sustainable Development
A model for curriculum renewal

ISBN 9781315883953
Published October 8, 2013 by Routledge
304 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Responding to the global and unprecedented challenge of capacity building for twenty-first century life, this book is a practical guide for tertiary education institutions to quickly and effectively renew the curriculum towards education for sustainable development.

The book begins by exploring why curriculum change has been so slow. It then describes a model for rapid curriculum renewal, highlighting the important roles of setting timeframes, formal and informal leadership, and key components and action strategies. The second part of the book provides detailed coverage of six core elements that have been trialled and peer reviewed by institutions around the world:

  • raising awareness among staff and students
  • mapping graduate attributes
  • auditing the curriculum
  • developing niche degrees, flagship courses and fully integrated programs
  • engaging and catalysing community and student markets
  • integrating curriculum with green campus operations.

With input from more than seventy academics and grounded in engineering education experiences, this book will provide academic staff with tools and insights to rapidly align program offerings with the needs of present and future generations of students.

Table of Contents

Forewords: Mr Barry Grear, Professor Goolam Mohamedbhai, Professor Walter Leal-Filho, and Dr Tony Marjoram. Our One-Minute Pitch  Preface: The Natural Edge Project  Introductions: Professor Stephen Sterling, Dr Debra Rowe and Emeritus Professor Robin W. King  Part 1: A Compelling Case for Rapid Curriculum Renewal  1. Higher Education in Urgent and Challenging Times  2. Drivers and Barriers to Education for Sustainability  3. Deliberative and Dynamic Curriculum Renewal  Part 2: Strategic Transformation through Rapid Curriculum Renewal  4. A Whole of Institutional Approach (Curriculum Helix)  5. Informing a Curriculum Renewal Strategy  Part 3: Key Considerations for Each Element of Curriculum Renewal  6. Identifying Graduate Attributes  7. Mapping Learning Pathways  8. Auditing Learning Outcomes  9. Developing and Updating Curriculum  10. Implementing the Program  Appendix: Staging the Curriculum Renewal Strategy  Glossary  Notes  Index

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Cheryl Desha has a degree in Engineering (Environmental, first class) and a PhD in rapid curriculum renewal. Her research focuses on building capacity for sustainable development within tertiary education. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Science and Engineering Faculty, QUT, and a Principal Researcher with The Natural Edge Project (TNEP).

Karlson 'Charlie' Hargroves has a degree in Engineering (Civil/Structural) and is undertaking a PhD in carbon structural adjustment. His research focuses on opportunities for transformational change towards sustainable development. He is a Senior Research Fellow in the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute and a Principal Researcher with The Natural Edge Project (TNEP).

Cheryl and Charlie are members of The Natural Edge Project, a sustainability think-tank which operates as a collaborative partnership for research, education and policy development on innovation for sustainable development. TNEP's mission is to contribute to and succinctly communicate leading research, case studies, tools, policy and strategies for achieving sustainable development across government, business and civil society. Working with the TNEP team, Cheryl and Charlie have co-authored four books on sustainable development, published in four languages.


"In this book, the gifted team from TNEP explain their sustainability and curriculum renewal playbook in a clear and concise way that will be of enormous value to universities around the world, across all disciplines."

Ernst von Weizsäcker, Co-Chair, U.N. International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management

"This book is insightful, pragmatic, and timely as world circumstances mean that graduates face unprecedented challenges - and a range of opportunities."

David Singleton, Chairman, Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia; Global Leader - Planning, Arup

"This book provides a practical guide on how a whole-scale transition to education for sustainability can be strategically planned within existing cultural and organizational contexts."

Dr Tony Marjoram, Former Head of Engineering Sciences, UNESCO

"This publication makes an important contribution… providing a sense of optimism by highlighting the best of what is happening internationally, and providing educators with tools that can be used immediately."

Professor Goolam Mohamedbhai, Past President, International Association of Universities (IAU)

"The authors have consulted with an extraordinary international network of accomplished practitioners and academics to present a strategic yet ultimately pragmatic approach to education for sustainability."

Barry Grear, AO, Past President, World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO)

"I am excited by the potential for this publication to set a benchmark… presenting a very flexible and practical framework for educators to consider in their strategic planning for curriculum renewal."

Professor Walter Leal Filho, Chief Editor, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

"This book presents a multi-pronged approach packed full of ideas and examples for action…"

Professor Debra Rowe, President, U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development

"I am very pleased to see that this publication presents a grounded, practical and rigorous model for rapid curriculum renewal that does not rely on a super-budget or the energy of one or two champions."

Professor Stephen Sterling, Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Plymouth, UK

"The authors’ approach to transformative curriculum change to include sustainability is pro-active and strategic, rather than relying on more common processes of incremental improvement."

Professor Robin King, University of South Australia


Endorsement Quotes inside the book

"I have known the co-authors for more than a decade in a variety of roles, including as my staff and colleagues. Their suggestions for the development of 21st Century professionals are insightful, pragmatic and timely as world circumstances mean that graduates face unprecedented challenges - and a range of opportunities."

David Singleton, Chairman, Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia; Global Leader - Planning, Arup

"The team from The Natural Edge Project have provided a well argued appraisal of the rationale for rapid curriculum renewal to education for sustainable development. Higher education institutions around the world clearly have significant incentives and a variety of tools to embrace this challenge over the next decade."

Mr. Wynn Calder, Co-Director, Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, Washington, DC.

"With my experiences as Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Zaragoza, I agree with the idea that the universities who can innovate a process to integrate sustainability content within their existing programs will, in the medium to longer term, attract larger numbers of students and achieve notoriety as leading education institutions. In this respect, and as a first step prior to a deeper integration of sustainable development into the programs, we are promoting EESD at the undergraduate and postgraduate level with specific courses. For this purpose we have used parts of the curriculum developed by the TNEP team, which is excellent and without any doubt, we have found useful in reducing time spent in generating and checking new content"

Professor Luis M. Serra, Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Zaragoza, Spain

"Engineering education for sustainable development is important to business as the national and global economy gears up for the challenges presented by climate change, resource constraint and greater public engagement with the sustainability agenda. This book highlights that employers are increasingly seeing sustainability, and particularly the emerging carbon economy, as an opportunity rather than just a risk. Business needs graduates with the knowledge and skills to operate in a rapidly emerging market in sustainable engineering services."

Dr. Fabian Sack, Principal,
Fabian Sack and Associates; Former Group Sustainability Manager, Downer EDI

"This is a wonderful compilation of local and international initiatives that highlight ways of embedding sustainability and sustainable development issues, from the outlying teacher scenario of ‘I’ll include it if I must’ (assuming the staff has heard of the topic and sees any need) to the very core of any teaching, and the needs of the student experience – the Raison D’être."

Dr Euan Nichol, Consultant, Victoria University