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EQ930-30 Education for Sustainable Development

Department Education Studies

Level Taught Postgraduate Level

Module leader Dr Nicholas Lee

Credit value 30

Module duration 10 weeks

Assessment 100% coursework

Study location University of Warwick main campus, Coventry


This module introduces and critically examines Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). You will addresses ESD both as a global project and a series of local initiatives and their connections.

Key questions are:

  • What is ESD and what change is it intended to make?
  • What theories and assumptions have formed the development of ESD?
  • To what extent can it deliver its key objective of transforming citizens, societies and economies?
  • What effects has it had?
  • What difference can it make to curricula and pedagogy?
  • How can effectiveness be evidenced and what evidence is there that it can be effective?
  • What new developments in the field are presently under discussion?
Principal Module Aims and Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key debates within ESD.
  • Demonstrate an informed understanding of the relationship between ESD educational institutions and local, regional and global education and sustainability policies.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to connect global issues of ESD with the diversity of local ESD programmes.
  • Demonstrate an ability to reflect on the relationship between ESD as goals, strategies and practices.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to reflect on the desirability and feasibility of future ESD developments.
  • Introduction
    This session will introduce and examine the concept of sustainability addressing its three intermeshing aspects — economy, society and environment. The need to address each of these three aspects at once is a basic principle of sustainability discourse.
  • ESD as a Global Project
    ESD is a key focus of the UNESCO. Through a range of initiatives and interventions, UNESCO seeks to influence and inspire change in the nature and role of education with the aim of transforming global society. In this session we measure the success of ESD and the extent to which it embodies the principle laid out in our introduction.
  • ESD - Critical Voices
    In this session we articulate the critiques of ESD, assess the evidence for them and consider what, if anything, might be done to address them.
  • ESD and Curricula
    ESD requires teachers and learners to understand issues in systemic rather than unidirectional causal terms and to become skilled in connecting information from diverse sources and communities. This session explore a range of approaches to setting ESD curricula.
  • ESD and Pedagogy
    In this session we ask how educational institutions might respond to the changes in standard relationships between teaching and learning activities and roles as a result of ESD, and how new pedagogical approaches might link with and embody ESD principles.
  • ESD and Early Childhood Education
    The younger the child, the longer and more deeply their life will be affected by sustainability issues. But are some children too young to learn about these matters? Early Childhood Education is one of the hotspots of practical ESD development in which these issues are addressed. This session surveys a range of approaches to ESD in the early years.
  • ESD and the University Sector
    Since universities are understood to produce societies' decision-makers, the tertiary education sector has become a hotspot for ESD development. University education and academic careers are often organized around clearly demarcated disciplines, each of which has its own standards and expectations. This raises the question of how universities can fit ESD into their operations. This session critically examines a range of tertiary sector responses to ESD.
  • ESD International Case Studies
    In this session, we examine a range of case studies of UNESCO ESD projects. In each case we ask in what ways does this embody ESD principles? How have curriculum and pedagogical challenges been addressed? How can outcomes be assessed?
  • Futures of ESD
    In this session we will examine some new ideas and approaches that are currently in development. We ask whether these are responding to new sets of issues and what futures for ESD are likely to come from them.
Study Time
Type Required Optional
Lectures 10 sessions of 2 hours (7%)  
Seminars 10 sessions of 1 hour (3%)  
Tutorials (0%) 1 session of 15 minutes
Private study 270 hours (90%)  
Total 300 hours  
5000 word essay


Module Information

This module is an optional module on MA Childhood in Society, MA Education, MA Educational Innovation, MA Educational Management and Leadership, MA Global Education and International Development, MA Islamic Education: Theory and Practice, and MA Psychology and Education.