Education for sustainability teaching
How do we provide education in sustainable development both to individuals and to public authorities, businesses and organisations? This is a question being asked at Swedesd, the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development at Uppsala University.
The common theme at Swedesd is education for sustainability teaching with a focus on basic structures and research. In practice, this means international and national cooperation to develop policy documents, curricula and tools for cooperation in order to tackle complex societal problems.
“Specific issues we work with include how to design teacher education so that it has maximum impact for those learning about education for sustainable development, or how different aspects, such as justice, gender and climate can be woven together in societal issues to obtain a sufficient basis for making decisions,” says Eva Friman, Director of Swedesd.
The United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development often require a weighing and balancing of demands, such as climate/environment, justice or equality. Tools and methods are thus required to develop a basis for making the best possible decisions. Swedesd’s work has led to the contract education course “Att leda samverkan” (“Leading Cooperation”) for people who lead or deal with complex societal issues.
To work with education for sustainability teaching, UNESCO (the UN organisation for education, research and culture) has initiated the international cooperative partnership Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (GAP).
The Swedish government appointed Swedesd national coordinator for the implementation of the programme in Sweden through to 2019. A first step was taken in July 2016 when Swedesd submitted a proposal to the government on how policy work should be carried out in Sweden. The proposal was developed in consultation with other stakeholders in the field.
Swedesd also participates in the international work with GAP.
“We work internationally to raise competence in teacher education,” says Friman. “We are participating in a large UNESCO project to build capacity in education for sustainable development in 60 institutions in southern Africa. In Harare, Zimbabwe, we are involved in a project on how GAP will be implemented in southern Africa.”
Another example is a research collaboration with Rhodes University in South Africa to develop methods to effectively evaluate, expand, diversify and increase projects and training initiatives in education for sustainable development.
17 Global Goals
The UN General Assembly has set 17 ambitious global goals for sustainable development, including solving the climate crisis and ending poverty. A key factor in attaining these goals is education, and particularly education for sustainability teaching. Because 2030 is the deadline for reaching the global goals, they are also referred to as Agenda 2030.