Today, the first article from Ane Torsdottir’s PhD Research on High School student’s partcipation in schools trying to work within a Whole School Approach in Southern Norway, was published in Environmental Education Research. The article, co-authored by her supervising team with Daniel Olsson, Astrid Sinnes and myself, demonstrates how a questionnaire gauging students’ experiences of participation in decision-making at their school can operationalise student participation in a whole school approach (WSA) to education for sustainable development model.
Some 902 students in three upper secondary schools participated in the study by giving their answers to Likert-scale items developed to tap into their experience of participation in the decision-making at their school.
The students identified four distinct pathways of participation:
(i) School and Leadership,
(ii) Teaching and Learning,
(iii) Community Connections, and
(iv) Student Council.
The results are discussed in the light of focus group interviews with eleven of the participants. The student WSA participation questionnaire proved to be a reliable and valid instrument that, together with the student WSA participation model, can be used by school leaders wanting to increase student participation, and by researchers investigating student participation throughout the whole school.
Full citation:Torsdottir A.E, Sinnes A, Olsson D. & Wals, A. (2023) Do students have anything to say? Student participation in a whole school approach to sustainability, Environmental Education Research, DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2023.2213427
Recently, a few more titles appeared in the Springer SDG4 Series that are expanding horizons, addressing blind spots and offer guidelines for alternative ways of thinking and acting in and through education in light of pressing global sustainability challenges. One of them finally arrived on my desk today: Koen Wessel’s “Pedagogy of Entanglement: a response to complex societal challenges that permeate our lives”. This book is a real treasure that is based on Koen’s dissertation which he completed last year at Utrecht University (with joint supervision from Wageningen University). You can find the book here.
The Springer Sustainable Development Goals Series aims to provide a comprehensive platform to the scientific, teaching and research communities studying issues in the fields of geography, earth sciences, environmental science, social sciences, engineering, policy, planning, and human geosciences in order to contribute knowledge toward achieving the current 17 Sustainable
Development Goals. Volumes in the series are organized by relevant goal and guided by an expert international panel of advisors.
The subseries that I am co-editing together with Nicole Ardoin of Standford University, focuses on SDG 4: Quality Education and more specifically on the following questions: What kind of quality or qualities must education have in order to be able to contribute to Sustainable Development as expressed by the SDGs? How can such education be developed, implemented and assessed in a wide range of contexts across the globe? How can quality education, that contributes to the well-being of all people and the whole planet, becomeaccessible for everyone?
Topics covered by the SDG 4 subseries include, but are to limited to: education policy and governance for ESD/ESE and Global Citizenship Education (GCE), conceptualizing sustainability competence other possible learning outcomes of ESD and GCE, pedagogical approaches to ESD/ESE and GCE, the role of teacher training/professional development in fostering ESD/ESE/GCE,
assessment of ESD/ESE and GCE-related learning, creating whole school or whole institution approaches to sustainability, making ESD/ESE and GCE accessible and relevant for all learners in a wide range of context across the globe.
Should you be interested in writing or editing a book for this Series, contact Zachary Romano in Springer’s New York office or drop me or Nicole a line!
Ik maak sinds een paar jaar deeluit van een Nederlandse Community of Practice rondom Regenerative Higher Education bestaande uit PhDs en medewerkers van verschillende universiteiten en hoge scholen. Dit White Paper is het resultaat van de samenwerking in de Community of Practice en is samengesteld door Martine de Wit en gebaseerd op interviews met Bas van den Berg, Daan Buijs, Mieke Lopes Cardozo, Marlies van der Wee en Arjen Wals. Met input van Nina Bohm, Linda de Greef, Michaela Hordijk, Naomie Tieks, Koen Wessels, Rosanne van Wieringen, en Roosmarijn van Woerden. De illustraties en vormgeving zijn verzorgd door Mari Genova.
Het paper vertrekt vanuit de vraag:
Onderwijs dat het beste haalt uit onszelf en onze studenten, op weg naar herstel van de aarde. Hoe komen we daar?
Lees hier ons verhaal en laat ons weten wat resoneert, schuurt of wat het anderzins losmaakt!
Led by former Wageningen University PhD Dr. Thomas Macintyre and current Wageningen University Post-Doc, Dr Daniele Tubino de Souza, I was priviledged to collaborate on this new paper that appeared in the latest issue of Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education. This paper provides a Latin American perspective on ESD, with a focus on transformative and participatory learning in community contexts. With a long history of critical pedagogies, Latin America provides a fertile ground for exploring alternative forms of education as a means to address deep-rooted challenges in western traditional strands of education. We start by providing an overview of pertinent educational currents present in Latin America, then ground these perspectives in two case studies carried out by the authors – one from Colombia, the other from Brazil – which explore grassroots initiatives in community settings that utilise different forms of education and learning. We then propose an integrative model to foster alternative educational approaches that might lead to decolonial and regenerative praxis, finishing with a discussion on how Latin American-rooted regenerative decolonisation perspective and praxis can inform global ESD discourses.
Full citation: Macintyre, T. Tubino de Souza, D. & Wals, A.E.J. (2023) A regenerative decolonization perspective on ESD from Latin America, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2023.2171262
Last week I was part of the long awaited launch of NMBU´s Sustainability Hub. The Hub is a bold attempt by the university to connect all 7 faculties around wicked sustainability challenges in ways that are relevant to the local community and include the voices of the students and of societal stakeholders.
After an introduction of the Dean of Sustainability (NMBU is one of the few Universities in the world who has such a Dean), Professor Astrid Sinnes, and a short talk by myself delivered as a Visiting Professor at NMBU in which I started the journey to this moment in time with the 1972 Stockholm Conference and the report of the Club of Rome, more than 50(!) years ago, Professor Siri Ellen Hallstrom Eriksen sketched the intitial ideas and plans for the hub as an unfolding and emergent property that needs to be cocreated.
Still, the NMBU Sustainability Hub has the following initial objectives:
The Hub initiates, connects and supports innovative research, education and societal engagement in sustainability challenges using a Whole Institution Approach (WIA)
The Hub develops, critiques and supports evolving practices of sustainability in research, education, operations, societal engagement and professional development of staff
The Hub facilitates critical debate and reflection at the interface of science and society on sustainability in higher education
The Hub provides resources and support for capacity building of students and staff seeking to develop their sustainability competences
The Hub contributes to knowledge creation by participating in (inter)national research and professional development networks and initiatives of working on sustainability in higher education
It seeks to realize them by:
Providing a window/portal sharing evolving institutional practices of its partners/members and the resources, tools, modules, etc. they use;
Creating spaces both virtual and real where people working on sustainability in HEIs can meet, dialogue, co-create, innovate, reflect and connect;
Identifying and linking key staff members in all partner institutions working on the various components;
And, by eventually becoming a key innovation node in Norway for the advancement of sustainability in higher education by participating in and organizing networks, living labs, innovation hubs/arenas.
Climate change is not a new issue for education, but new levels of consensus and concern are emerging, suggesting that new policy developments may follow. This NORRAG Special Issue (NSI 07) addresses the question of how education is to equip learners to participate in climate action that would fundamentally disrupt existing problematic systems. This NSI has the potential to inform pedagogical praxis, co-learning, curriculum, climate action, policy formulation, frameworks for evaluating success, resourcing decisions and what we might consider educative acts for engaging with climate change and its multi-dimensional uncertainties, risks and opportunities.
Edited by South African Professors Eureta Rosenberg and Heila Lotz-Sisitka, this is one of the most comprehensive and ground braking collections of papers available at the moment. The special issue is completely open access. You can find the full table of contents here.
I am very pleased to have found two wonderful Norwegian colleagues – Astrid Sinnes of the Norwegian Life Sciences University and Ole Andreas Kvamme of the University of Oslo who were willing to join in writing a contribution which is titled: School Strikes as Catalysts for Rethinking Educational Institutions, Purposes and Practices
I am also delighted to see two of my former PhD’s, Thomas Macintyre and Martha Chaves, based in Colombia in the special issue as well with a paper on Climate Change Resilience through Collaborative Learning in the Colombian Coffee Region – they co-authored with Tatiana Monroy who, like omas and Martha volunteers for Fundación Mentes en Transición, Colombia, South America
There will be an online launch of the NORRAG Special Issue 07 (NSI 07): Education in Times of Climate Change, will take place on 6 October 2022 at 16:00 – 17:30 CEST. For more information about the llaunch event have look here!
Another most interesting paper just came out in the journal Pedagogy, Culture and Society. This time led by – now former PhD candidate – Koen Wessels who received his PhD last June. Here is some key info on the paper and its key concept ‘pedagogy of entanglement’ which is at the heart of Koen’s research.
Confronted by myriad interconnected societal challenges, this paper asks: what kind of pedagogy does justice to the experience and challenge of living in a complex world? Departing from a critical reading of a preparative-logic to education, this paper emphasises students’ entangledness: more-or-less consciously, students are uniquely shaped-by and shapers-of complex societal challenges in a here-and-now sense. Utilising this premise, the paper develops a set of pedagogical perspectives that might inspire and help teachers to design their own responses to particular complex societal challenges in their unique teaching contexts. Drawing on emerging outcomes from a narrative diffractive inquiry with 12 teachers as co-researchers and engaging with complexity thinking, six perspectives are presented and discussed: entanglement-orientedness, entanglement-awareness, hopeful action, inquiry within complex societal challenges, practicing perceptiveness, and practicing integrity. Together, these perspectives offer a heuristic for embracing complexity in education.
Full citation: Koen R. Wessels, Cok Bakker, Arjen E.J. Wals & George Lengkeek (2022) Rethinking pedagogy in the face of complex societal challenges: helpful perspectives for teaching the entangled student, Pedagogy, Culture & Society, DOI: 10.1080/14681366.2022.2108125
Earlier this month the 8th Report from the Global University Network fir Innovation (GUNi) was published with a wealth of contributions critiquing current resilient modes and models of education and outlinig alternative one in light of the current systemic global dysfunction we find ourselves in. I was asked to contribute a chapter on transgressive learning. The link to the chapter is here
The full citation for my chapter is: Wals, AEJ (2022) Transgressive learning, resistance pedagogy and disruptive capacity building as levers for sustainability. In: Higher Education in the World 8 – Special issue New Visions for HigherEducation, Barcelona: Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi). Open access: www.guni-call4action.org, p216-222.
This paper recently appeared in International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. It explores students’ sense of community and belonging in an online course on environmental and sustainable education during times of physical distancing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a case study approach, the results show that students perceived a sense of community that was collectively build during the four week program. Sense of community was linked to and facilitated by the learning environment and the educators’ and students’ role throughout the course. Prominent factors here are interaction and inclusion created with mutual effort by design, the educator and student.
This research arose after the course ELS-31806 Environmental Education and Learning for Sustainability was converted as an ‘offline’ course into an online course due to COVID-19. The original content of the course enables students to systematically discuss important concerns in the development of an effective curriculum and/or operation for the environment and sustainable development using a range of instrumental and emancipatory approaches. But foremost ELS-31806 is a course that has always been, well appreciated and highly valued by participants for its highly experiential and hands-on approach.
However, due to COVID-19 this year’s course (2020) was changed into a less experiential on-line format mediated by Zoom for interaction and by Brightspace for course structure and organisation. This somewhat ad-hoc and sudden departure from the traditional successful format, lowered the instructors, and probably also, the students’ expectations about the course’ ability to create a vibrant learning community. Yet, contrary to pre-course expectations, ‘something’ (i.e. a sense) arose over the course of four weeks online education that both students and staff considered to be special or meaningful. These hunches got confirmed several weeks after by Wageningen UR’s student evaluation system PACE which revealed that the students highly valued the course.
We were intrigued by the question of how this online edition evoked similar, or nearly similar outcomes to its offline counterpart. After first checking whether our hunches were right about the course and what might explain the high evaluation marks, we centre in the paper’s main question:
What are key characteristics of an online course that fosters subjectification (personal development and inner-sustainability in relation to others and the other) and creates a sense of community?
The paper was led by former MsC student Robbert Hesen and co-authored by myself and ELS Postdoc Rebekah Tauritz.
Recently a major review was published by the Mathma Ghandi Institute on the history, state and desired future of education in light of current global challenges. Hundreds of scholars contributed to the 10 chapters spanning almost 400 pages – see the ToC below.
While I am somewhat allergic to ‘evidence-based’ – mainly because of its pre-occupation with measurement, proof and the truth which typically marginalises meaning-making, inclusion of alternative ways of knowing and social emotional and embodied forms of learning – I did sign on to co-lead Chapter 8 on Curriculum and Pedagogy in a Changing World, along with Curriculum Guru William Pinar and emerging scholar and activist Thomas Macintyre.
We were supported by 16 authors from Asia, Latin America, North America, Africa and Europe. The resulting chapter, is not so much evidence-based but rather is evidence informed combined with the collective wisdom of all contributors.
You can download our chapter 8 on Curriculum and Pedagogy here. The entire report can be found here.
Wals, A., Pinar, W., Macintyre, T., Chakraborty, A., Johnson-Mardones, D., Waghid, Y., Tusiime, M., Le Grange, L. LL, Razak, D.A., Accioly, I., Xu, Y., Humphrey, N., Iyengar, R., Chaves, M., Herring, E., Vickers, E.A., Santamaria, R.D.P., Korostelina, K.V. and Pherali, T. (2022) ‘Curriculum and pedagogy in a changing world’ in Vickers, E.A., Pugh, K. and Gupta, L. (eds.) Education andcontext in Reimagining education: The International Science and Evidence BasedEducation Assessment [Duraiappah, A.K., Atteveldt, N.M. van et al. (eds.)]. New Delhi: UNESCO MGIEP.
I feel very privileged to be part of one of the two major International River Research projects led by Wageningen UR colleague Prof. Rutgerd Boelens: Riverhood and RiverCommons. Riverhood and River Commons are both 5-year research projects that focus on enlivening rivers, river co-governance initiatives, and new water justice movements.
Riverhood is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) (Grant Agreement No 101002921) and aims to build groundbreaking transdisciplinary concepts and methodological tools to analyze and support new water justice movements’ institutions, strategies and practices for equitable and sustainable water governance. It does so through comparing initiatives in Latin America (Ecuador and Colombia) and Europe (Netherlands and Spain). The focus will be on movements promoting novel concepts and practices such as Rights of Nature, new water cultures or nature-inclusive hydraulics, to name just a few.
RiverCommons is funded by Wageningen University’s Interdisciplinary Research and Education Fund (INREF) and unites chair groups from the social and natural sciences, as well as partners worldwide. Its objective is to develop transdisciplinary concepts and methods for research, education, and multi-stakeholder interactions to understand and support river co-governance initiatives and sustainable socio-ecological river systems in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.
While each of the projects has its specific objectives, activities, regions, and partners, there is immense potential for synergies and cross-pollination. Riverhood and River Commons will therefore be integrated in multiple ways, to together build a diverse and wide network of river scholars, activists, and institutions that commonly aim to understand and strengthen river co-governance around the world.
Both projects are united by a common framework that illuminates the different facets and complexities of river systems. The framework encompasses four dimensions: River-as-Ecosociety, River-as-Territory, River-as-Subject, and River-as-Movement. You can find more information about it in Concepts.
Another important component of both projects is the development of Environmental Justice Labs (Riverhood) and River Co-governance Labs (River Commons) to be organized in the case study sites to co-create knowledge and mobilize and exchange ideas for change.
World’s rivers are fundamental to social and natural well-being but profoundly affected by mega-damming and pollution. In response to top-down and technocratic approaches, in many places riverine communities practice forms of ‘river co-governance’, integrating ecological, cultural, political, economic and technological dimensions. In addition, new water justice movements (NWJMs) have emerged worldwide to creatively transform local ideas for ‘enlivening rivers’ into global action and vice versa. The Summer School aims to provide PhD students who conduct research on these ‘river commons’ and NWJMs with transdisciplinary concepts and approaches for studying their emerging ideas, concepts, proposals and strategies. The training thereby focuses on conceptualizing river systems in all senses, and capacity-building for (understanding and supporting) river knowledge co-creation and democratisation from the bottom up.
“It’s the economy, stupid!” was a slogan Bill Clinton used in his successful campaign against George W. Bush to point out that in the end it is the economy that matters most to voters. Now 30 years later this slogan has new meaning as we come to see the moral and planetary bankruptcy of old-style market and growth driven economic thinking that normalises unsustainability. Sadly, much higher (business) education still echoes and reproduces dysfunctional old-style economic thinking, even in universities that claim to have sustainability at the heart of their operations… even the SDG related to the economy – SDG 8 – seems to do so as it focuses on realizing ‘economic GROWTH and decent work’. It is hight time that alternative economic thinking takes root in our education – varying from distributive economic thinking to regenerative economic thinking to circular economic thinking to a letting go of economic thinking altogether to make room for alterative value propositions.What are the implications of such alternatives for how and what we teach? how students learn? how we connect with stakeholders around the university?
These and other questions will be addressed at the Higher Education Summit 2022 from 6-8 September 2022 in Hasselt, Belgium! Under the theme “Daring to transform learning for a future-proof economy” the summit will bring together those who wish to transform higher education for the benefit of a “safe and just space for humanity” (Raworth, 2017): people who study, teach, research, and contribute to governance at higher education institutions, and representatives of the business world, government, and civil society.
The organisers invite you to join us to rethink the role of higher education institutions in shaping the economy. Whether we prefer to call it a doughnut economy, circular economy, or regenerative economy – we all aspire for a world in which humans can flourish in close harmony with a thriving planet. And we know that learning is key to driving this transformation (Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development, 2021).
We are looking forward to celebrating your wonder! The Call for Contributions is open! Proposals are welcome until 15 March 2022. We will let you know by 29 April 2022 whether your proposal has been accepted. Your proposal should not exceed 1 A4 page, including references. You may include pictures or other visual representations. Proposals will be assessed by the scientific committee based on the following principles:
Potential for (societal and/or economic) transformation
Academic or other relevant quality for theory, practice or policy
Originality and level of innovativeness
Adequateness of mode of presentation, including the degree of co-creation with the audience
On 8 February 2022 SPARK the Movement organizes an interactive online meeting with regional, national and European educators around the question:
How can we mobilize the imaginative power of the region, thus learning together how to take up global challenges and focus on the local impact we can make?
SPARK’s conviction is that sustainability needs to be a part of the ‘everyday fabric of life’. The scale of a region seems to be a most suitable level to examine and enact sustainability in day-to-day life and in everyday business. The meeting is organised by United Nation’s supported Regional Centre of Expertise ‘Fryslan’ in The Netherlands. I will give a short introduction to the Whole School Approach as a key driver of sustainability.
It is my pleasure to share two calls for contributions in relation to the development of a Whole School Approach (WSA) to Sustainability. The first one relates to an international hybrid conference organized by the Dutch government that will take place in The Netherlands and partially online late March of 2022, the second one relates to an edited Volume on the topic in the Springer SDG4 Series on Quality Education.
Call for exemplary practices of a Whole School Approach to Sustainable Development
The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy have commissioned a report to provide practical examples of how a Whole Institution/ Whole School Approach (WSA) is being used in practice around the world to engage with SDG4 – Quality Education, especially in relation to sustainable development issues as covered by the other SDGs. The reports aim is to highlight different aspects of a WSA – curriculum development, pedagogical innovation, school management and leadership, school-community relationships, professional development of staff, and the school as a ‘living laboratory’ for experimenting with healthy, equitable, democratic, and ecologically sustainable living – especially how these aspects can be integrated to mutually strengthen each other.
We are particularly interested in so-called critical case-studies that do not only highlight best-practice strategies and success stories, but also share the struggles, set-backs and challenges underneath and ways to overcome them. The report will be published as part of the WSA International Conference happening in The Netherlands on the 30th-31st March.
If you know of such a school (primary, secondary, or vocational) from your country that can be used as an exemplary example of a WSA in action, or want further details, please contact Rosalie Mathie via email. email@example.com before February 15th so she can still contact people connected to the exemplary case.
2 Call for Abstracts Springer SDG4 Series Whole School Approaches to Sustainability – Principles, Practices and Prospects
Ingrid Eikeland, Brigitte Bjønness, Astrid Sinnes and Arjen Wals (Eds)
Schools across the globe are seeking to respond to emerging topics like; climate change, biodiversity loss, healthy food and food security, and global citizenship. They are increasingly encouraged to do so by educational policies that recognize the importance of these topics and by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
While there is recognition that such topics should not be added on to an already full curriculum, but rather require more systemic and integrated approaches, doing so in practice has proven to be difficult. This edited Volume seeks to engage educators, school leaders, educational policy-makers and scholars of sustainability in education in key principles, critical perspectives, generative processes and tools that can help realize a Whole School Approach to Sustainability. The book will contain three sections: 1) Principles & Perspectives, 2) Critically Reflexive Contextual Case Studies (Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education) and 3) Synthesis: Challenges and Prospects.
The editors are inviting abstracts (no more than 500 words) of potential chapters. Contributions can be research-based (spanning different genres of research) but can also be more conceptual in the form of critically reflexive essays. Abstracts should indicate a best fit with one of the sections and need to be accompanied with short bios of the author(s) and, if possible, references to prior publications that relate to the topic.
Please send your initial ideas for a contribution or any queries you may have to: firstname.lastname@example.org before March 1st. All abstracts will be reviewed by the editors and a selection will be made for further development into a full manuscript to be published by the end of 2022.