Aiming for Full Coverage - Integrating Sustainability Education into All Undergraduate Courses at La Trobe University, Australia: Achievements, Lessons Learnt and Barriers Addressed
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Integrative Approaches to Sustainable Development at University Level: Making the Links
In 2012, La Trobe University committed to ensuring that every undergraduate student, across all disciplines, will have significant and assessed experience of three ‘Essentials’ of learning: Sustainability Thinking; Global Citizenship; and Innovation and Entrepreneurship. These broadly align with the principles promoted through the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This initiative by La Trobe constitutes one of the first examples of whole-of-institution embedding of sustainability education into all undergraduate courses. La Trobe Essentials are more than content; they are designed to develop students’ capacity to address our most pressing global challenges. To achieve this, action was needed so that there was alignment of policy, strategy, resourcing and regulation at all levels. Each Essential is tailored within each discipline, in partnerships between University-wide curriculum officers, Faculty education teams, and course and subject coordinators. This in turn has led to agreed approaches to the development of curriculum assessment and reporting for Sustainability Thinking and the other Essentials. Auditing methods have been developed to map the occurrence of subjects likely to contain the Essentials, and as a starting point for exploring which subjects can be developed as Essentials subjects, or be re-designed for this purpose. These approaches to curriculum development and auditing may be of assistance to other higher education institutions. Examples of how Sustainability Thinking has already been incorporated include a core Sustainability Thinking unit across all Business Management courses, a cross-disciplinary elective subject on Climate, Sustainability and Society, and a large, high enrolment Humanities-based elective entitled Food for Thought. The Essentials are widely supported by academic staff. Their enthusiasm, along with senior management endorsement and curriculum expertise centrally and in Faculties, have helped to overcome many of the significant barriers encountered in implementing Sustainability Thinking across all courses.