Education for Sustainability (EfS)

Global Learning Community

Fig new EfS in wider systems

Although EfS works within the broad context of learning and education, it also influences wider learning and education.

Arguing from a holistic perspective, we consider that the most important aspect of sustainability as a concept is its aim to unite ecological and social concerns and this will involve both conservation and change.

Three Sector model

Using the Three Sectors model, we promote a synthesis among the three sectors – state, business and civil society – to bring about positive social change.

Fig new Three sector model

Five core themes of EfS

In order to facilitate making the connections, we have developed five core themes that run throughout the programme, forming connecting pathways:
 Timescales and geographical scales
 Dynamics of change: personal, social and ecological
 Social justice, participation and learning
 Politics of knowledge
 Theory and practice

We believe that value commitments are essential to EfS. Our programme is built around commitments to social justice, democratisation and participation.

If you enrol on our EfS programme, you will enjoy the opportunity of engaging in a lively process of guided enquiry into EfS while situating your work in the big picture of sustainability and learning. We encourage and support you to choose the pathway that best suits you through the programme whether you come from state, education or business sector or civil society, or whether you are on a personal journey on EfS.

EfS and ESD

Our course team prefers the term ‘Education for Sustainability’ (EfS) to ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ (ESD). The term EfS implies a broader concept, more open to contestation and debate. ESD is more commonly used in some contexts and some countries and it is more closely tied to particular Western models of development.

What is sustainability – ultimately?

‘Sustainability is ultimately about bio-ecological processes remaining functional and viable and keeping human activities to a level where they continue to be capable of supporting our lives and wellbeing, both locally and globally.’
Maiteny and Parker (2002: 27)

MAITENY, P. and PARKER, J. (2002) Unit 6 Study guide: Science and culture in education for sustainability. London: Distance Learning Centre, South Bank University.

Education – an agent of change or a subject of change or both?

‘The whole idea of EfS implies two key assumptions.....
 That education needs to be an agent of change towards sustainability
 That education needs to be a subject of change itself through greater reflexivity if it is to be able to fulfil its role as an agent of change’
Sterling (2005: 4-5)

STERLING, S. (2005) Unit 7 Study guide: Education for Sustainability. London: Distance Learning Centre, South Bank University.

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