Archive: Africa

Learning for Sustainable Development: Integrating Environmental Education in the Curriculum of Ordinary Secondary Schools in Tanzania

By Beatus Mwendwa

Abstract
The study assesses the extent to which curriculum of secondary schools in Tanzania addresses sustainable education through integration of environmental education. Specifically, it evaluates the subjects used to deliver environmental education in secondary school. Also the study found out perceptions, challenges, and recommendations for implementing environmental education. This research adopted a case study, qualitative approach to study the subject matter in its natural settings while making sense of the contents of the subjects and perceptions of stakeholders. Cross sectional, stratified sampling involved both students from all classes, experienced teachers in geography and biology and a head teacher as well. It was found that most environmental education competencies are delivered mainly through the geography subject, and some in biology using an integrated teaching approach. Students and teachers were fairly knowledgeable and had understanding of basic environmental issues. Main challenges facing implementation of environmental education included an integrated learning approach, inadequate knowledge on environmental education, lack of support from each other and from school administration, and cultural myths and beliefs.

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Education for a Sustainable Future: Benchmarks for Individual and Social Learning

By Jaimie Cloud

This document is a provisional draft that has emerged out of an initial “State of the Field” issue and database, published in JSE in 2014 and a follow-up conference in Winter of 2015.

Jaimie Cloud of the Cloud Institute has been the lead organizer and author of this document. See the opening pages for the large number of additional contributors.

A process for comment and revision will be announced during Spring/summer 2016.

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What’s Love Got To Do With Transformative Education?

By June Gorman

Too much of education, especially following the Western Enlightenment model and its increased use of scientific, quantifiable metrics, has seemed to completely forget that love and emotional intelligence have everything to do with what and how well the human child learns. In a globalizing society facing shared environmental and social crises of existential proportions, this forgotten understanding is fatal to real hopes of education for sustainability and healthy human and planetary life. Love is simply too critical an emotion to understand and incorporate into education, and it has been too long left out in the cold. But cold it has been for the human mind focusing on only rational/objective and emotion-denying forms of learning and intelligence, creating minds unmoved by the thus un-felt facts of an increasingly globally warming and more confused world.

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Love as a Great Transition Story

By Duane Elgin

The stories we tell shape our view of ourselves and the path we take through this time of collective awakening and global turning. We have the ability to consciously choose narratives that offer realistic beacons of hope to guide our way through the Great Transition. To achieve authentic and lasting reconciliation as the foundation for our future, we require the power of love and compassion as a practical basis for organizing human affairs.

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Book Review: “The Living Universe: Where Are We, Who Are We, Where Are We Going?” by Duane Elgin

By Chiara D'Amore

In The Living Universe: Where are We, Who are We, and Where are We Going, Duane Elgin presents a powerfully compelling argument that the most fundamental challenge facing humanity during this time of crisis is to visualize a future of great opportunity and that the foundational story guiding the reality people create on Earth is whether the universe is alive and to be loved and nurtured or dead and to be feared and consumed. This article provides a review of this powerful book with an eye to the connection between love and sustainability.

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From Kenya With Love

By Jennifer Gurecki and Monica Makori

Table of Contents: JSE March 2015 — Sustainability: What’s Love Got to Do with It? PDF:  Gurecki JSE March 2014 Love Issue Abstract: The impacts associated with products such as solar lamps and rain water harvesting tanks often tend to focus on economic, environmental, and health indicators. Authors Gurecki and Makori make the case for […]

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Urban Sprawl: Definitions, Data, Methods of Measurement, and Environmental Consequences

By Reza Banai and Thomas DePriest

Like sprawl itself, writing about sprawl is scattered in a vast multidisciplinary literature. In this paper we provide a map of what is increasingly known about urban sprawl in emerging literature. This review of progress includes four main parts—definition, data, methods of measurement, and environmental consequences of urban sprawl. The focus of this literature review is to determine whether the aforementioned parts are elements of a connected system in which progress in any one part reflects in others, thereby enhancing knowledge of urban sprawl’s environmental consequences through a cross-fertilization with progress in how sprawl is defined, data are used, and phenomena are measured. We conclude with a discussion of areas of further research that surmounts the shortcomings of a disconnected, epistemic (knowledge) system of definitions, data, and methods, and points toward an explanation of urban sprawl’s environmental consequences. The implications for the education of urban sustainability are noted.

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Energy information sharing in social networks: The roles of objective knowledge and perceived understanding

By Brian G. Southwell, Joseph J. Murphy, Jan E. DeWaters, Patricia A. LeBaron and Jessica Fitts Willoughby

As sustainability educators and communication professionals consider various strategies to engage audiences with regard to household energy use, one option now seemingly available is to leverage social networks by encouraging people to share information with others they know. At the same time, we currently do not know enough about the potential spread of energy-related information in this fashion. Whether, when, or how people share energy-related information with peers or family members are crucial questions, for example. Using national survey data from U.S. residents (n=816), we predicted energy information sharing as a function of objective energy knowledge (measured using a factual energy knowledge index), perceived energy understanding, and demographic variables. Our analyses underscored the importance of assessing not only factual energy knowledge but also perceived understanding, as both are equally predictive of energy information sharing frequency (β=.11, p<.05, for objective knowledge and β=.11, p<.01 for perceived understanding). Number of children also predicted energy information sharing, β=.11, p<.01. We discuss the implications of these results for informal energy education efforts in the 21st century.

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Bridging the Civil Society-Academia Gap: Lessons from the Environmental Movement in Ghana

By Emmanuel Osuteye

Recent systematic studies of the environmental movement in Ghana have revealed an apparent disconnect between environmentally focused civil society organizations and local academia. This disconnect has implications on both the study of the social dimension of environmental issues and the lack of academic literature on the subject. It is my opinion that the bridging of this gap has potential benefits for both civil society and the development of environmental social science.

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The Climate and Development Lab: An Experiment in Engaged Education for Global Just Sustainability

By David Ciplet, J. Timmons Roberts and Guy Edwards

This article discusses the evolution and work of Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab (CDL). As leaders of the CDL, we engaged students in experiential education while attending the United Nations climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico in 2010, and in Durban, South Africa in 2011. Simultaneously, we collaborated with students to provide relevant and timely research and public scholarship oriented by the goal of advancing global justice in international climate change policy. Here we offer a conceptualization of our pedagogy for the CDL, which is a synthesis of two guiding principles: ‘engaged education’ and ‘global just sustainability’. We discuss the ways in which we organized the CDL in relation to this pedagogy and everyday logistics, and reflect upon our accomplishments and the challenges that we faced. We argue that while there are areas where we can improve upon our practice, the potential of this type of learning is considerable, and can be complementary to producing scholarly outputs that contribute to a more just and sustainable world.

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Integrating Shared Action Learning into Higher Education for Sustainability

By Scott Jiusto, Stephen McCauley and Jennie Stephens

It is widely acknowledged that the sustainability challenges facing the world require new approaches to teaching and learning. At the community level, however, sustainability priorities are context specific, so prescriptions of what and how to teach for sustainability are limiting. In higher education, one innovative approach to sustainability education that acknowledges the limits of conventional coursework involves courses based on “shared action learning” – a process in which students, faculty, and community sponsors share learning experiences while working on sustainability projects for a specific community. Shared Action Learning can be applied in any community context near or far from campus ranging from the very local campus community to distant settlements across the globe. This paper describes the processes, opportunities and challenges of shared action learning through five stages: (1) project impetus, (2) contextual research and project planning, (3) community engagement and project refinement, (4) action, and (5) reflection and reporting. The roles of students, faculty, sponsors, and communities throughout the semester-long shared action learning project are explored through two examples – a course at Clark University in Worcester, MA that focuses on SAL within the college campus community and a Worcester Polytechnic Institute program through which students work on projects with partners in informal settlements in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Teaching Sustainability through Adventure

By Jeni Henrickson and Aaron Doering

Adventure has been incorporated into sustainability education in a variety of ways, including through outdoor education and, more recently, through technology-enhanced learning. Technology has, for example, expanded opportunities for experiential learning through adventure as well as allowing learners to journey virtually along with explorers and scientists to the far-reaches of the world. This paper offers an overview of how adventure has traditionally been employed in both formal and informal education, discusses the differences between adventure education and adventure learning, shares research conducted on the role of adventure in the GoNorth! Adventure Learning Series, and advances suggestions for how adventure might be employed in sustainability education using distance, online, and mobile learning. The researchers propose the user-driven adventure learning environment (UDALE) as one model that educators and designers can draw from in both formal and informal learning settings as a means to fuse adventure, technology, and sustainability education in a pedagogically meaningful way.

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Cities and Regions: The Urban Sustainability, Planning, Pedagogy, and Technology Nexus

By Reza Banai

Two developing strands of a multidisciplinary literature provided an impetus for this paper: 1) the emergence of new regionalism, new urbanism, and smart codes that inform urban planning and design principles and practices for environmental sustainability, and 2) the diffusion of telecommunication and multi-media technologies that facilitate implementation of pedagogic principles in the “classroom.” The emerging urban planning and design paradigms anchor environmental sustainability issues firmly in place and space with an emphasis on the physical form of cities and regions, which, due to induced vehicular travel, is linked to greenhouse gases with consequences for climate change. Innovations that enhance learning in the classroom or the community increasingly embed and diffuse telecommunication and multimedia technologies. The intersections of urban sustainability, planning, pedagogy, and technology are briefly reviewed in this paper. It turns out that urban planning and design paradigms—particularly those with an emphasis on systemic knowledge, holistic views of both the natural and built environments, collaboration, communication, and reflective practice—synergize with environmental sustainability goals. Furthermore, these very features are ingredients for effective education for urban sustainability, particularly in conjunction with advanced telecommunication and multimedia technologies.

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User perceptions of energy consumption in university buildings: A University of Sheffield case study

By Colin Whittle and Christopher Jones

This study investigated the current energy use perceptions and practices of staff and students within five buildings at the University of Sheffield, UK. A series of focus groups with staff and post-graduate representatives from these buildings explored occupant awareness of energy consumption, perceived level of control over energy use, priorities for reduction and the perceived facilitators and barriers to reduction. Overall, personal awareness and attitudes about the need to conserve energy, the perceived actions and opinions of other users (including University authorities) and perceptions of control over the ease and opportunity to reduce energy consumption were perceived by occupants to relate to whether they would intend to conserve energy in University buildings. Recommendations for encouraging energy conservation focus on engendering greater occupant responsibility for conservation by providing a clear conservation message, participating in energy reduction schemes and providing greater energy usage information. Few papers have investigated occupant understanding of energy use in UK University and Higher Education buildings, despite large reduction targets in the sector. This paper recognises the importance that staff and student engagement will have in the successful achievement of these targets and explores their insights and perceptions.

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Re-engaging Youth through Environmental-based Education for Sustainable Development

By Justin Umholtz

To live up to UNESCO’s definition of a sustainable development education that empowers youth with the knowledge, attitudes, motivations, commitments, and skills to solve and prevent the world’s total environmental problems, youth must be able to find meaning in the curriculum based in their own experiences and expanded through shared group experiences. An environmental-based experiential curriculum with a positive development focus can help youth reclaim their learning process and reconnect with their communities. However, without critical analysis, students, especially marginalized students, cannot develop the tools and competencies to truly understand their environment and their place within it. Linking environmental and experiential education with critical theory provides students the opportunity to develop their leadership and gain the social and cultural literacy skills needed to come in from the margins.

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Curriculum as Bioregional Text: Place, Experience, and Sustainability

By Nathan Hensley

In this article I articulate what it means to understand curriculum as bioregional text. I utilize a theoretical mode of inquiry to explicate the values of bioregional education while integrating the discussion into the reconceptualized field of Curriculum Studies. The discussion addresses the value of direct experience, in our bioregion, and explains the significant contribution that can be drawn from developing a clearer understanding of our bioregional autobiography.

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If it please the court: Using a simulated trial as the basis for an introduction to sustainability science course

By N.J. Smith-Sebasto

This report describes a unique technique for presenting an introduction to sustainability science course that is both required for sustainability science majors at a large Mid-Atlantic state university and a general education non-laboratory science course. The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, released by the Union of Concerned Scientists in the late 1990s, serves and an indictment of humanity. The course mimics a trial as it proceeds from the indictment through an arraignment, pre-trial, trial, verdict, and sentencing with students acting both as the accused and the jury.

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Boyer Plus: Field Study Courses for Sustainable Education

By Daniel Moscovici

The field study (or short-term study abroad) creates a successful hybrid of study abroad and field research. These short-term educational adventures (edu-ventures) give environmental or sustainability students opportunities to gain practical knowledge while traveling domestically or overseas. In addition, it presents the opportunity for both faculty and students to extend the traditional Boyer model of scholarship, a reputable professoriate model, by developing continuity. The field study fulfills the four pedagogical goals of the Boyer model: creating research opportunities (discovery); breaking down the silos of traditional academic departments (integration); acting as consultants on-site (application); and educating students beyond the faculty members’ expertise (teaching). In addition, these field studies fulfill a fifth goal: building relationships and transgressing time (continuity). The development of this Boyer Plus model from a field-study experience serves as a tremendous tool for colleges, universities and professors to build the opportunities and necessary pedagogical skills for both traditional and non-traditional students.

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Sustainability Education, Experiential Learning, and Social Justice: Designing Community Based Courses in the Global South

By Mark A. Ritchie

Understanding how we live (culture) and its impact on where we live (ecology) is one of the key issues facing sustainability and sustainability education. The International Sustainable Development Studies has developed a study abroad program for American college and university students in Thailand, “People, Ecology and Development” to address these issues through experiential studies of sustainability. Courses each semester focus on understanding the broader challenges of sustainable development through experiential studies of specific landscapes and cultures in the villages, mountains, coasts and islands throughout Thailand. This paper examines the key components of ISDSI’s programs, and provides a framework for understanding how these principles can be used to teach about sustainability within the broader context of issues of social justice and global learning more generally. Key components of the ISDSI approach include: community based learning — working with local communities to design courses that reflect community needs, knowledge and struggles; place-based learning — examining both the culture and ecology of specific locations, watersheds, bioregions, island archipelagos, etc.; experiential learning — learning through direct examination of and participation in the cultural practices (lifeways, norms, etc.) and study of ecological components (forests, coral reefs, etc.); and expedition based — learning during focused expeditions through the landscapes being studied, usually human powered (backpacking through remote mountain forests, sea kayaking between islands, etc.).

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A Case Study in Sustainability Experiential Education

By Christine Gleason, Robert Ause and Jamey Hein

This article presents a case study of a middle school project based on the experience of two teachers and an administrator. The project gives 8th grade students an opportunity to make a difference in the world through a Sustainability Action Project. In this article you will read the rationale behind this project. You will get an overview of and a timeline for its implementation over the course of a complete academic year. We will provide you with some examples of projects as well as refer you to our school webpage where you can view these projects in more detail. Finally, we have included appendices of several of the materials we provide to our students. We hope that you will clearly see what sets this learning experience apart from other sustainability projects, and that you will be able to adopt a similar project in your school.

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Children’s Observations of Place-Based Environmental Education: Projects Worlds apart Highlight Education for Sustainability Inherent in Many Programs

By John Rafferty and Shelby Gull Laird

        PDF: Rafferty and Laird, Spring 2013 Abstract:  This paper explores the observations and perceptions of school children as they engage with nature through place based environmental experiences. The paper reports on two projects, one based in the USA and the other in Australia, designed to promote understanding of sustainability through outdoor […]

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Values and Participation: the role of culture in nature preservation and environmental education among the Baganda

By Lssozi

Decent life depends on nature’s provision of stable resources. In this report I explore cultural efforts embedded within nature preservation and environmental education among the indigenous Baganda and how these can be emulated to inform modern environment conservation programmes. Accordingly, environmental conservation in Buganda was guided by clearly streamlined gender roles and cultural values through spirituality and the clan system which defined the ethical relationships between human culture and the environment. The key challenges towards this include gender inequality and the associated stereotypes, the political climate in the country, and modern religions. Successful mitigations should essentially hinge on integrating indigenous conservation methods in formal school curriculum as well as undertaking sensitization and empowerment campaigns geared towards nature preservation.

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Embedding Education for Sustainability in the School Curriculum: the contribution of Faith Based Organisations to Curriculum Development

By Lssozi

Embedding education for sustainability, in Faith Based Organisations’ (FBOs) school curricula in Uganda, puzzles. Any progressive education system should be dynamic-always calling for timely transformations in content, instructional methodologies, imparted values,
skills and attitudes, to remain holistic. Once these are adequately embraced, the system tends to remain vibrant and relevant to the institutions, the learner and the community. However, in Uganda especially in education institutions of FBOs, Education for
Sustainability (EfS) – a universally conceived aspect of holistic learning seems not to be whole-heartedly attended to either by omission or unawareness. Problems centre mainly on ideological and operational premises. These include lack of awareness, lack of goodwill of
key stakeholders to plan for and manage EfS and lack of competent teachers in EfS aspects. Answers to these problems in essence center on the theoretical underpinning of this report-curricular transformation. Secondly, proper capacity building, integrative planning,
financing and management to enable sustainable programme growth and development should also be enhanced.

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Creating a Learning Organization to Promote Sustainable Water Resources Management in Ethiopia

By Carol Atkinson-Palombo and Mekonnen Gebremichael

Partnerships between universities have the tantalizing possibility of providing fresh pathways to more sustainable societies. Institutions in sub-Saharan Africa are new players in this emerging development paradigm, but arguably are most in need of building capacity to address fragile and dynamic environmental and social conditions after decades of underinvestment in higher education. This paper documents the early stages of an Ethiopia-United States partnership to build capacity in institutions of higher education in Ethiopia in the critical area of sustainable water resource management that was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Higher Education for Development (HED). We explain how the concept of sustainability was interwoven with theories about learning organizations, supplemented by in-depth dialogue with stakeholders to assess existing capacity and future needs, and used to inform a strategic plan. The literature highlighted the need for a learning organization: a place where people continuously expand their ability to generate the results they truly desire, where innovative and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together. In 2011, the partnership established the Ethiopian Institute for Water Resources (EIWR) with the vision that it will become a key innovator in sustainable water resources management in Ethiopia by integrating education, research, outreach and training. One important observation so far is that in order to create a more substantive engagement than was realized in the “technology transfer” policies that shaped past North-South relationships, partnerships need to be authentic and characterized by open dialogue, mutual respect, and shared learning. Another is that the opportunities for fieldwork in Ethiopia’s complex social and physical landscapes also have enormous potential to create deep and learning experiences for other students of sustainability, thereby building capacity not just in Ethiopia but across multiple geographies.

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Alpine Tourism in Tropical Africa and Sustainable Development?

By Ernst Steinicke and Martina Neuburge

Alpine tourism in the attractive, glaciated highlands of Eastern Africa’s national parks has traditionally been considered an engine of regional development. The major question this article examines is the significance of this economic sector and whether it can contribute to sustainable regional development. The research area is Mt. Kenya and the Ugandan Rwenzori; the detailed studies were conducted in the most intensively visited tourist areas, i.e. at the foothills of the two massifs: in the Mobuku Valley in the eastern Rwenzori, and at Naro Moru west of Mt. Kenya. In addition to analyses of the current state of the art as well as of official statistical data, our conclusions are derived from own surveys, mapping activities and household observations.
The results show that economic benefits from mountaineering tourism in the Mt. Kenya region are fewer than commonly calculated, mainly because of the low occurrence of tourism. Moreover, existing incomes are low, inconsistent and distributed unevenly. There are clear parallels to the critical structures characterizing the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda: alpine tourism does not reduce regional income disparities and largely fails to promote sustainable development. Nevertheless, community-based tourism, as shown by the example of the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services (RMS) in the Rwenzori National Park and of the Guides & Porters Safari Club (GPSC) in the Mount Kenya National Park, stabilizes the livelihood of rural households and reduces the vulnerability of families. Whereas in the Mt. Kenya area, most of the regional households are involved, in the Rwenzori mountains the favorable effects of alpine tourism are concentrated in just one valley (and support only one twelfth of the entire Rwenzori population). Thus, its contribution to sustainable regional development is negligible.

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Figure 2: Probability of a Type II Error

Bomb Threats, Global Warming and Decision Making: An Educational Experience

By Dave Tomkins and Peter Tsigaris

Dave Tomkins and Panagiotis Tsigaris focus their fine analytical stats skills on how to not to make the wrong kind of error…yes, that should be the right logic…regarding global warming. They elegantly lay out the math behind what we all know intuitively…nothing is to be lost from taking precautions regarding global warming, or avoiding Type II statistical error, which comes, not from assuming that humans caused global warming, even when we didn’t, but rather being unable to prove that humans cause global warming, when in fact we are causing it. They present the statistics in the context of a course case study and make it clear that we have no reason to wait on the data since the potential for this type of error is already with us and the actions to be taken are probably beneficial in other areas as well.

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Sponsoring the Journal of Sustainability Education

By Clare Hintz

Sponsoring the Journal of Sustainability Education The Journal of Sustainability Education is actively seeking partners, sponsors, and donors to collaborate on moving the field of sustainability education outward and deeper. The Journal is a premiere publication with dynamic content elements, a blend of peer reviewed and timely interviews and media pieces that draw over 11,000 unique visitors […]

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Toward climate justice: Perspectives on the climate crisis and social change, by Brian Tokar, Communalism Press (2010), 137 pp., $14.95, ISBN 9788293064015.

By Randall Amster

In this insightful review of Brian Tokar’s book, Randall Amster hails the work as a hopeful response to climate change that, rather than playing off of apocalyptic scenarios, envisions a future where society is re-structured not only in technological and economical terms, but also towards a more socially equitable way of life.

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First, Do No Harm: The Role of Sustainability in the Education of Health Professionals

By Jill Manske

Whoever would study medicine aright must learn of the following subjects. First he must consider the effect of the seasons of the year and the differences between them. Secondly he must study the warm and the cold winds, both those which are in common to every country and those peculiar to a particular locality. Lastly, […]

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The Importance of Controversy: Is Education for Sustainable Development Too Nice?

By Robert Bray

The Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) community, argues Robert Bray, is shy to confront controversy. In this quick review of three controversial issues—population control, the role of science, and limits to growth—he quickly points out how important it is to embrace controversy as a way to arrive at sound policy.

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