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EQ316-15 Education for Sustainability

Department Education Studies

Level Undergraduate Level 3

Module leader Nicholas Lee

Credit value 15

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). It addresses ESD both as a global project and as a series of local initiatives.

Principal Module Aims and Outcomes

The module aims to answer what is Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and what changes is it intended to make by looking at the theories and assumptions that have informed the development of ESD. The module looks at what extent can ESD deliver its key objective of transforming citizens, societies and economies?

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

  • Demonstrate a systematic, coherent and detailed knowledge and understanding of well-established and latest concepts and debates surrounding ESD.
  • Undertake critical analysis of information related to the roles of educational institutions and local/regional/global ESD policies, devising and sustaining arguments that consolidate and may extend knowledge.
  • Identify a range of appropriate solutions based on a critical evaluation of strategies and approaches in policy and practice for implementing ESD.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits to knowledge inherent in ESD policy and practice.
  • 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
Lectures 10 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Seminars 10 sessions of 2 hours (13%)
Private study 90 hours (60%)
Assessment 30 hours (20%)
Total 150 hours
  Weighting Study Time
Timed Essay 100% 30 hours
In a specified week after the teaching on the module has finished, students will write one 3000 word essay. They will choose from a list of titles and have 7 days to complete their essay. The essay titles/questions will be made available on the Monday morning and students will have until the following Monday to complete the assessment.