Defining and Explaining Sustainable Development and Sustainability: A Review of Curriculum Guides and School Texts
- 836 Downloads
The chapter reviews the way the concepts of sustainable development and sustainability are described and explained in curriculum guides, advice to teachers and school geography textbooks. Most definitions do not distinguish between sustainable development and sustainability, do not explain what is to be sustained, and do not lead to any tests of whether something is sustainable. Some of them also extend the idea of sustainability in conceptually confusing ways. An alternative definition of sustainability is proposed, based on the contention that sustainability is about a preferred state in which the functions of the environment that support human life and welfare are maintained into the future, while sustainable development is about a process for achieving this state. This definition identifies what is to be sustained, and leads to a set of principles that students can use to evaluate whether an environmental function is sustainable. The chapter also argues for students to be guided into much deeper thinking about the causes of unsustainability, and about the changes in our society and their way of life that may be required if unsustainability is to be significantly reduced.
KeywordsSustainable Development Future Generation Renewable Resource Environmental Education Precautionary Principle
The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Jonathan Noble and Nick Hutchinson to this chapter, and the insights provided by Philip Sutton in the paper listed in the references.
- Baker, S. (2006). Sustainable development. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Clarke, P. (2003). Where the ancestors walked: Australia as an Aboriginal landscape. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
- Conacher, A. and Conacher, J. (1995). Rural land degradation in Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Daily, G. C. (Ed.). (1997). Nature’s services: Societal dependence on natural ecosystems. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Deville, A., & Harding, R. (1997). Applying the precautionary principle. Leichhardt: Federation Press.Google Scholar
- Dresner, S. (2008). The principles of sustainability. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Dryzek, J. S. (2005). The politics of the earth: Environmental discourses (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Ekins, P. (2000). Economic growth and environmental sustainability: the prospects for green growth. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Franz, J., & Papyrakis, E. (2009). Reconsidering the ‘ecological footprint’ index: Does it promote sustainable behaviour? http://www.esee2009.si/papers/Papyrakis%20-%20An%20Evaluation%20of%20Ecological.pdf. Accessed 16 June 2011.
- Goklany, I. M. (2001). The precautionary principle: A critical appraisal of environmental risk assessment. Washington, DC: Cato Institute.Google Scholar
- Jacobs, M. (1991). The green economy: environment, sustainable development and the politics of the future. London and Boulder: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
- Lowe, I. (1990). Sustainable development: How do we get there? Australian Society, 9(6), 5–9.Google Scholar
- Porritt, J. (2005). Capitalism as if the world mattered. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Selman, P. (1996). Local sustainability: Managing and planning ecologically sound places. New York: St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
- Sutton, P. (2004). What is sustainability? http://www.green-innovations.asn.au/What-is-sustainability.doc. Accessed 15 April 2011.
- Sveiby, K.-E., & Skuthorpe, T. (2006). Treading lightly: The hidden wisdom of the world’s oldest people. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
- Whitehead, M. (2007). Spaces of sustainability: Geographical perspectives on the sustainable society. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- World Commission on Environment and Development and Commission for the Future. (1990). Our common future (Australian ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Materials Analysed: (a) Advice to Curriculum Writers and Schools
- Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage. (2005). Educating for a sustainable future: A national environmental education statement for Australian schools. Carlton South: Curriculum Corporation.Google Scholar
- Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. (2010). Sustainability curriculum framework: A guide for curriculum developers and policy makers. http://www.environment.gov.au/education/publications/pubs/curriculum-framework.pdf. Accessed 12 April 2011.
- New South Wales Department of Education and Training. (2009). Earth citizenship: A conceptual framework for learning for sustainability (Draft working paper). http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/env_ed/assets/pdf/earth_citizen.pdf. Accessed 12 April 2011.
- New Zealand Ministry of Education (2011). Education for Sustainability website. http://efs.tki.org.nz. Accessed 12 April 2011.
- New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. (2004). See change: Learning and education for sustainability. Wellington: Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.Google Scholar
(b) Advice to Teachers
- Cutter-Mackenzie, A. (2011). Teaching for environmental sustainability. In R. Gilbert & B. Hoepper (Eds.), Teaching society and environment (4th ed., pp. 348–363). South Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia.Google Scholar
- Fien, J. (2004). Education for sustainability. In R. Gilbert (Ed.), Studying society and environment: A guide for teachers. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia.Google Scholar
- Noble, K. (2009). Education for sustainability in primary social studies education. In M. Littledyke, N. Taylor, & C. Eames (Eds.), Education for sustainability in the primary curriculum: A guide for teachers. South Melbourne: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
(c) Student Textbooks
- Bedson, C., Lynch, V., Cargeeg, D., Kaiser, A., & Matthews, S. (2006a). Humanities alive geography 1 (2nd ed.). Milton: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Bedson, C., Lynch, V., Cargeeg, D., Kaiser, A., & Matthews, S. (2006b). Humanities alive geography 2 (2nd ed.). Milton: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Berry, R. (Ed.). (2006). Thinking geography: Macmillan humanities VELS level 6. South Yarra: Macmillan Education Australia.Google Scholar
- Gerlach, A.-M., Ottway, C., Parker, B., Lanceley, K., Owens, D., & Fitzpatrick, R. (2008a). Essential geography for Queensland 1. South Yarra: Macmillan Education.Google Scholar
- Gerlach, A.-M., Ottway, C., Parker, B., Lanceley, K., Owens, D., & Fitzpatrick, R. (2008b). Essential geography for Queensland 2. South Yarra: Macmillan Education.Google Scholar
- Gerlach, A.-M., Ottway, C., Parker, B., Lanceley, K., Owens, D., & Fitzpatrick, R. (2008c). Essential geography for Queensland 3. South Yarra: Macmillan Education.Google Scholar
- Kleeman, G., Hamper, D., Rhodes, H., & Forrest, J. (2008a). Global interactions 1 (2nd ed.). Port Melbourne: Heinemann.Google Scholar
- Kleeman, G., Hamper, D., Rhodes, H., & Forrest, J. (2008b). Global interactions 2 (2nd ed.). Port Melbourne: Heinemann.Google Scholar
- Parker, B., Lanceley, K., Owens, D., & Fitzpatrick, R. (2008a). Geography for global citizens (3rd ed.). South Yarra: Macmillan Education Australia.Google Scholar
- Parker, B., Lanceley, K., Owens, D., & Fitzpatrick, R. (2008b). Geography for Australian citizens (3rd ed.). South Yarra: Macmillan Education Australia.Google Scholar