Stephen Sterling

Stephen Sterling
University of Plymouth | UoP · Sustainable Earth Institute/Centre for Sustainable Futures

Doctor of Philosophy

About

47
Publications
20,914
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3,571
Citations
Introduction
My research interest is in ecological thinking, systemic change, and learning at individual, institutional and societal scales to help meet the challenge of accelerating the educational response to the sustainability agenda and multiple crises that we now face. This has been my core work for a number of decades, and it is elaborated in my extensive publications. Find out more at my website: https://www.sustainableeducation.co.uk/

Publications

Publications (47)
Article
Full-text available
Discussion of the role of universities in relation to broad issues of sustainability has been current for some decades, although predominantly at the margins of debate and policy. Yet a recent rapid rise of concern—catalyzed by mounting evidence of climate crisis, biodiversity loss, pandemic disease and further systemic issues -is focusing renewed...
Presentation
Full-text available
The shape of the global future rests with the reflexivity of human consciousness-the capacity to think critically about why we think what we do-and then to think and act differently'.-(Paul Raskin 2008) The fate of the planet and of humanity hangs in the balance. Yet there is an astonishing disconnect between pressing signs of global change, and t...
Method
Full-text available
I've had several requests for our energy literacy survey recently so I thought it would be useful to upload it here. For more information about how it was developed and the origin of the questions, please see our paper in IJSHE here: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJSHE-12-2013-0166/full/html
Article
This chapter presents an overview of transformative learning theory while illuminating its connections to education for sustainability.
Chapter
Full-text available
In many ways the ideas in this book build towards the touchstones in the previous chapter. In the meantime some educators have already been drawn to wild pedagogies and found the touchstones helpful. Samples of their stories are presented in this chapter, for a couple of reasons. First, these are examples of individuals who are openly renegotiating...
Article
Mainstream westernised educational policy and practice continue to be firmly rooted in ontological and epistemological traditions that reflect what Gregory Bateson referred to as the illusion of our separation from the living world. In response, there has been a flourishing of innovation at the levels of educational philosophy, curriculum, and peda...
Book
This book explores why the concept of wild pedagogy is an essential aspect of education in these times; a re-negotiated education that acknowledges the necessity of listening to voices in a more than human world, and (re)learning how to dwell in a place. As the geological epoch inexorably shifts to the Anthropocene, the authors argue that learning...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This workshop considers the need for pedagogical innovation in light of sustainability centred and competency-based approaches to remaking Higher Education. It draws from recent work at the University of Plymouth to develop a competency-based vision for HE - as represented by the Plymouth Compass alongside other international examples. Being locate...
Chapter
Full-text available
The instrumentalist view of the purpose of education manifested in recent decades through the influence of neoliberal ideology, and the set of assumptions that accompany this wave of change and reform, are critiqued from an ecological and humanistic viewpoint. A collective blindness to the global systemic issues that are shaping the near human and...
Chapter
Full-text available
This book provides a critique of more than two decades of sustained effort to infuse educational systems with education for sustainable development, sustainability education, and, for longer still, environmental education. Additionally, taking to heart the idea that deconstruction is a prelude to reconstruction, this critique leads to discussion ab...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this Afterword, the editors reflect on some of the main themes emerging from the collected chapters. They note that the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report, Education for People and Planet, was launched just as the first draft of this book was completed. This report is welcomed as it couples the status of education with planetary prospects. Yet, it...
Chapter
This chapter starts from the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) Final Report’s call that in Higher Education, ‘more than scaling up of good practice’ and ‘greater attention to systemic approaches to curriculum change and capacity building for leaders will be needed’ (UNESCO 2014a, p. 31). It recognises this need and the addit...
Book
'…raises necessary radical answers to questions emerging from the Community of Life: How can we correct the suicidal path of the neoliberal cultural ethos?' -Alfonso Fernández-Herrería and Francisco Miguel Martínez-Rodríguez, University of Granada, Spain. '… pushes us to consider the future of education.' - Judy Braus, North American Association...
Article
Full-text available
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are viewed in the context of Johan Rockström’s work on planetary boundaries at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. This work sets a double challenge to educational policy and practice: to embrace and help achieve the Goals, but also to work towards a deeper change in consciousness which can reconcile people and...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper will outline a pilot and current collaborative research project between Plymouth University (UK), the University of Vechta (Germany), and the Western Michigan University (USA). The project takes as its starting point the UNESCO DESD Final Report’s plea that in HE, ‘more than scaling up of good practice’ and ‘greater attention to systemic...
Book
Full-text available
The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development gives a systematic and comprehensive overview of existing and upcoming research approaches for higher education for sustainable development. It provides a unique resource for researchers engaged in the field of higher education for sustainable development by connec...
Article
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Purpose – This paper aims to investigate students’ energy literacy at a UK university, and recommends ways in which it can be enhanced using a behaviour change model. Developing students’ energy literacy is a key part of the “greening” agenda, yet little is known about how students develop their ideas about energy use and energy saving at a univers...
Article
Full-text available
Energy saving is becoming a rising priority as a response to climate change and fossil fuel depletion in recent years. However, despite energy-related behaviour change being an important part of many environmental education initiatives, “energy literacy” among citizens remains patchy in both the USA and the UK, with evidence of strong positive atti...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose – This paper aims to present an overview of the design and implementation of a curriculum review undertaken at Plymouth University, UK, to gauge the incidence and status of sustainability in degree programmes across the curriculum. The paper outlines the methodological approach taken, reviews findings and summarises the effects and limitati...
Article
This article is based upon a longer concept paper commissioned by UNESCO in preparation for the World Conference on ESD, and entitled ‘Winning the Future We Want—the pivotal role of education and learning’. Neither this article nor the original paper necessarily represents UNESCO’S views. The brief for this paper was to make a strong case for educa...
Article
On the last day of the 4th UNESCO Chair Conference on Higher Education for Sustainable Development (HESD), in September 2011 at Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Germany), three roundtables were held on university contributions to sustainable development in the fields of "campus", "curriculum" and "community". Each roundtable (RT) was chaired by a l...
Article
Full-text available
Educators and policy makers have long recognised the central role that education can play in creating a more sustainable and equitable world. Yet some question whether current processes across mainstream higher education prepare learners sufficiently to graduate with the capabilities or motivation to shape and create a future that is life-sustainin...
Article
Full-text available
Within many British Universities and, indeed, across higher education internationally, how best to provide education for sustainable development (ESD) has become an increasingly important issue. There is now a widespread view that higher education sectors have a key part to play in preparing societies for the transition to a low carbon economy and...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the impact of short immersive residentials at a radical institution for staff currently working in a mainstream one; in this instance, at Schumacher College for those at the nearby University of Plymouth (UK). Schumacher is an independent, alternative college offering residential courses in ‘transformative learning for sustainab...
Article
Full-text available
AbstrAct The paper serves as an introductory mapping of the idea of transformative learning in relation to the challenges that contemporary socio-ecological conditions of unsustainability, complexity and uncertainty present to educational purposes and practice. The work of key theorists is reviewed briefly, and differences and commonalities in thei...
Article
This explorative paper works across discourses to suggest the possibility and potential of an integrative paradigm for sustainability education that reconciles instrumental and intrinsic educational traditions, informed and infused by resilience theory and social learning. It argues that such an integrative view is required in the context of the ur...
Article
The importance of recognising the mismatch between a shared perception of separateness in Western thinking and the systemic and inevitably participative nature of the world is outlined. The article then traces the development of forms of ‘education for change’ that seek to address sustainability issues that stem from dissociation, and notes that di...
Article
The Higher Education Academy (HEA) is a UK‐wide organisation that works with higher education institutions and 24 discipline‐based Subject Centres to improve the student learning experience. This paper outlines the work of one of its initiatives, the HEA ESD Project. While a small part of the Academy’s overall work, the Project is attracting increa...
Article
This paper provides a commentary on education for sustainable development (ESD) within higher education (HE) in England, set against the wider international and European background. The recent history of attempts to clarify ESD and its implications for higher education institutions is outlined, and some of the tensions between a developing agenda a...
Article
This comprehensive volume - containing 27 chapters and contributions from six continents - presents and discusses key principles, perspectives, and practices of social learning in the context of sustainability. Social learning is explored from a range of fields challenged by sustainability including: organizational learning, environmental managemen...
Article
While pressing sustainability issues climb international and national agendas, most Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have yet to respond in a systematic and coherent way in terms of embedding sustainability concepts, values and skills into the student learning experience. The paper reviews some schemas and views in the Education for Sustainable...
Book
Full-text available
Article
Incl. notes on the contributors, bibliographical references, index
Article
This largely philosophical article argues that we need to examine the roots of our cultural worldview if we are to understand the causes of our global crises and current obstacles to desirable change. Calls for a new ethic are likely to be ineffectual in the absence of a challenge to the damaging dichotomy between fact and value that characterises...

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Projects

Project (1)
Project
To raise debate on the kinds of education necessary to achieve transition to a liveable and sustainable future https://greattransition.org/