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Four impediments to embedding education for sustainability in higher education


Gale, F and Davison, A and Wood, G and Williams, S and Towle, N, Four impediments to embedding education for sustainability in higher education, Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 31, (2) pp. 248-263. ISSN 0814-0626 (2015) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1017/aee.2015.36


Higher education institutions have an unavoidable responsibility to address the looming economic, environmental and social crises imperilling humans and ecosystems by placing 'education for sustainability' at the heart of their concerns. Yet, for over three decades, the practice of 'higher education for sustainability' (HEfS) has encountered significant barriers to implementation, begging the question as to why. Drawing on a diverse, interdisciplinary literature, we identify four structural impediments to implementing HEfS: (1) disciplinary contestation, which creates confusion over what 'sustainability' means; (2) institutional fragmentation, which prevents the interdisciplinary dialogue that sustainability demands; (3) economic globalisation, which transforms higher education into just another market opportunity; and (4) 'fast and frugal' habits of reasoning, which steer time-pressed academics towards poorly integrated decisions and unsustainable positions. Our analysis highlights that wider structural change within and beyond the academy will be required if higher education institutions are to meet their responsibilities and drive the necessary social transformation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:education for sustainability, higher education, interdisciplinarity
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Education systems
Research Field:Higher education
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Gale, F (Professor Fred Gale)
UTAS Author:Davison, A (Associate Professor Aidan Davison)
UTAS Author:Wood, G (Dr Graham Wood)
UTAS Author:Williams, S (Dr Stewart Williams)
UTAS Author:Towle, N (Dr Nick Towle)
ID Code:103726
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2015-10-27
Last Modified:2016-05-26
Downloads:417 View Download Statistics

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