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Graduate course on Education and Learning for a Sustainable World – Policies, Pedagogies and Practices

Robert Didham with the students

CCL participates in the Environmental Education summer school at Beijing Normal University.


During the second and third weeks of July 2018, an annual Environmental Education Summer School was held at Beijing Normal University (BNU) - the premier education and teacher training university in China. The programme was organised by long-time PERL/UNITWIN partner Dr. Qing Tian and the Environmental Education Center at BNU. Twenty-seven graduate students participated in this programme, and while many came from BNU, students from several other universities throughout China also participated in the summer school.


The two-week programme consisted of four separate courses, each taught by a different visiting professor. Dr. Robert J. Didham, deputy director of the Centre for Collaborative Learning for Sustainable Development, taught a course titled “Education and Learning for a Sustainable World – Policies, Pedagogies and Practices”. This intensive 20-hour course was taught over five consecutive days from the 16-20 July 2018. The course explored the themes of sustainable development from a wide, interdisciplinary perspective and covered aspects related to the science, theories and policies of environmental sustainability. The primary focus of the course though was on how to address education and learning for sustainable development.

The topic of Education for Sustainable Development was examined from multiple dimensions and related to global, local and personal dimensions. Important themes like education and behaviour change, social learning, and quality education were covered, and students explored the role that education and learning play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and transformative social change. The course also included several practical sessions where students had hands-on opportunities to learn and use different active learning approaches (especially the PERL active methodology toolkits) and gain a deeper understanding of the progressive pedagogies used in education for sustainable development.

Students were assessed on their progress in this intensive course based on the preparation and presentation of group projects. The group projects involved the development of a series of three lesson plans on a selected Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Throughout the week, the groups were provided with structured facilitation and worked each day to develop different aspects of their lesson plans including the framing of key learning objectives, identification of primary knowledge (i.e. facts and figures) related to their SDG, development of cross-curricular approaches for teaching and linking different subject areas, and preparation of specific learning activities and teaching materials. On day five of the course, the five groups each presented their lesson plan to the class during 20 minute presentations.