28th May 2015: Fostering Vandalism of the Earth or Stewardship? Towards Education for Sustainability by Susan Brown

Come along to The Counting House at 7pm to listen to Susan’s thoughts. Share a crust of bread, and hear the talk she has to share…



Fostering Vandalism of the Earth or Stewardship?: Towards Education for Sustainability
by Susan Brown

Yangtze River Turned Red
Yangtze River Turned Red

Bullet points:

I’ll explore with the audience:

  • What we mean by the term ‘sustainability’ ;
  • The rationale for the development of curricula with a focus on sustainability;
  • What understandings and skills we are trying to foster through sustainability education and why?
  • What curriculum with a focus on sustainability might look like?
  • As a group we’ll have a go at devising a potential curriculum for sustainability 😉

A few paragraphs on your subject:
I have taken the somewhat rash decision of taking on a very broad subject area, ‘education for sustainability’ with the ambitious and perhaps foolish expectation that I can cover key aspects of the stimulating discussions going on around this theme in the space of 25 minutes. I even have the audacity to think that we could come up with a potential curriculum for sustainability in 5 minutes!
We may not complete this work but we can make a start. This is really what I want to do in this talk: promote initial thinking about what ‘education for sustainability’ is, why it is important to engage with this question and how people are working towards integrating sustainability into curricula. I hope that those of you who are already doing work in this area will contribute your thinking at the talk or perhaps in talks of your own at future Ragged events.
I’d like to think that by the end of the talk people will be enthused enough to engage with some of the resources I provide below. I hope that some of the below resources will be useful also for those of you, reading this online, who cannot attend.
The title of this talk is taken from what, for me, is a thought-provoking quote by David Orr. Without significant precautions, education can equip people merely to be more effective vandals of the earth (Earth In Mind,1994). This quote will be my starting point.

A few paragraphs about you:

I teach at the University of Manchester and have been concerned about humankind’s integral relationship with the natural World ever since I can remember. My interest in teaching and my interest in ‘sustainability’ are coming together in the work I am doing at the University.

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?

These for starters: please contact me if you would like further resources.
Capra, F. (2005). Speaking nature’s language: Principles for sustainability


The above article is discussed in the following


David Orr speaking on sustainability and education at Wipro-earthian series on Sustainability and Education, 2012, Bangalore”


David Orr is a key thinker with regard to education for sustainability
Orr, D. (1991) What Is Education For? Six myths about the foundations of modern education and six new principles to replace them. The Learning Revolution, IC#27.


Sterling, S. (2004). Whole systems thinking as a basis for paradigm change in education: Explorations in the context of sustainability:


Stephen Sterling is a leading voice in ways of integrating education for sustainability in Higher Education contexts.

UNESCO. (2002). From Rio to Johannesburg: Lessons learnt from a decade of commitment


WWF (2013). WWF Linking Thinking – New Perspectives on thinking & learning for sustainability


Other resources that may be of interest:
Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future: A multimedia teacher education programme.


A free UNESCO course for teachers, curriculum developer and anyone interested in teaching or communicating
The journal of Environmental Education:


(Free access to the ‘top’ articles in this journal).
The Cloud Institute of Sustainability in Education:


Sustainability and Environmental Education:


A national UK charity that works to support and encourage educators to help young people lead a more sustainable life.

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