Research Abstracts

Sustainable Development, Systems Thinking and Professional Practice

Stephen Martin is Visiting Professor at the Centre for Complexity and Change, Open University and the Centre for ActiveLearning, University of Gloucestershire, and an Honorary Professor of the University of Worcester Email:

This article explores the impact of the sustainable development (SD) agenda on the occupational and professional needs of those who have undergone educational and training programmes in the environmental field either at the undergraduate or the postgraduate level or through relevant professional institutions’ continuing professional development programmes. It also describes a one-day workshop for the professions on sustainable development based on systems thinking and practice. The workshop provides a model for developing greater understanding and effective action in professional practices by using dialogue and inter professional learning to approaches to sustainability in a variety of business and professional contexts. It introduces the principles underpinning the concept of sustainability and provides tools to support the integration of SD into professional practices and organisational change.

Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, Vol. 2,
No. 1, 31-40 (2008); DOI: 10.1177/097340820800200109

Sustainability Education’s Gift Learning Patterns and Relationships

Dilafruz Williams, Professor at the Graduate School of Education, Portland State University, United States. Email:

The crisis of sustainability can be linked to the traditional forms of schooling driven by mechanistic and technocratic worldviews. Progressing to a more sustainable world requires a fundamental
shift in the framework of formal education- its structure, content and process- to include principles of systems thinking and holistic learning. A case study from the United States draws upon the Learning Gardens model in Portland, Oregon, where students in kindergarten through eighth grades are learning to grow, harvest and cook food based within a curricular and instructional framework that is multicultural, interdisciplinary, intergenerational and multisensory. Students’ writings reflect that they are learning in patterns and relationships a critical aspect of sustainability education’s gift.

Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, Vol. 2, No. 1,
41-49 (2008); DOI: 10.1177/097340820800200110

Youth Can Lead the Way to Sustainable Consumption

John Fien, Professor of Sustainability at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia;

Cameron Neil, Director of the International Young Professionals Foundation,Canberra;

Matthew Bentley, Research Fellow at RMIT University at the time of writing;

This paper provides the rationale for a new education for sustainable development (ESD) project being developed in Australia. Titled Project otherWISE, it seeks to build the capacity of young Australians to be agents of change towards sustainable lifestyles in their communities. The rationale for the project is grounded in three themes that are analysed in this paper. The first
is an explanation of consumption as a key defining characteristic of contemporary society and the social and environmental impacts of global consumerism. The second is the rise of post material values and the potential of sustainable consumption to provide alternatives to mainstream lifestyles. The third is the enormous potential for young people to develop skills in questioning the pressures towards unthinking consumption and to create alternative ways of living in the world.

Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, Vol. 2,
No. 1, 51-60 (2008); DOI: 10.1177/097340820800200111

Opinion Essay: What We Need to Learn to Save the Planet

Moacir Gadotti, Director of the Paulo Freire Institute, Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Sao Paulo, and author of many books on education. Email:

The author argues that education, as we see it today, is more a part of sustainable development’s (SD) problem than a part of its solution because it reinforces the principles and values of an unsustainable lifestyle and economy. He argues for an economy that is not centred on free market and profit, and which circulates wealth with a logic of cooperation rather than competition. Solidarity economy has incorporated the principles of inclusion and social emancipation. Sustainability and solidarity are emergent and convergent themes. Gadotti proposes that without social mobilisation against the current economic model, education for sustainable development (ESD) will not reach its goals. In addition, education for a sustainable life—not only for a sustainable development—is required. The Decade of Education for Sustainable Development is an opportunity for formal education to construct a new quality of education, a social-environmental quality, to replace the current education model that has been eroding the planet since the nineteenth century.

Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, Vol. 2,
No. 1, 21-30 (2008); DOI: 10.1177/097340820800200108

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