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Understanding and managing transience in student-led food gardens: Report for students' unions and universities

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This report syntheses the main findings from a 2.5 year action research doctoral study of the National Union of Students’ Student Eats food growing scheme. The intended audiences for this report are university and students’ union staff that are working with student-led food gardens at their university. This report may also have relevance for staff in further education institutions and/or staff coordinating other student-led sustainability initiatives.
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UNDERSTANDING AND
MANAGING TRANSIENCE IN
UNIVERSITY STUDENT-LED FOOD
GARDENS
Report for Students’ Unions and Universities
Rebecca Laycock Pedersen
January 2020
2
Preface
This report syntheses the main findings from a 2.5 year action research study of the National
Union of Students’ Student Eats food growing scheme. It was undertaken by Rebecca Laycock
Pedersen as part of a doctoral degree in Environment and Sustainability at Keele University in
the UK, supervised by Professor Zoe Robinson.
The intended audiences for this report are university and students’ union staff that are working
with student-led food gardens at their university. This report may also have relevance for staff
in further education institutions and/or staff coordinating other student-led sustainability
initiatives.
HOW TO USE THIS REPORT
Because this report has been designed specifically to be of relevance to students’ union and
university staff, some components are explained in greater detail than others. Supplementary
information is included in the appendices at the end of this report, which provide more detail
about key findings and recommendations. If you would like further information, please contact
Rebecca Laycock Pedersen at rebecca.laycock@gmail.com.
A seperate report has been created based on this study for Students Organising for
Sustainbility (SOS) and a video has been created for student gardeners. These may be useful
complements to this report when supporting students working with student-led sustainability
initiatives.
There may be some sections of this report that are of greater interest to you than others. It
has been designed to accomodate this, so you do not need to read the report in full or in order.
Feel free skip to the parts that are of the most interest to you.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Student gardeners and staff from the National Union of Students’ sustainability team have
generously given their time for this research. This contribution is valued greatly.
Financial support for this research and its dissemination has been received from Keele
University, the Keele Postgraduate Association (KPA), Santander, and the UNEP-Tongji
Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development.
THINK BEFORE YOU PRINT
Only print this document if you need to. If you do choose to print this document, consider if you need to print
all pages, or only some of them.
3
…the nature of it, is like, inherently non-continuous. Because students,
they stay for a year, and then they do something else.
Student gardener
4
TABLE OF
CONTENTS
STUDENT-LED FOOD GARDENS: places
where groups of university students
operate spaces on university campuses
where edible plants are grown. There are
sometimes other participants, but students
are the driving force behind these
initiatives.
STUDENTS’ TRANSIENCE: to pass through
the university community with only a brief
stay over the course of degrees and during
the academic calendar because of holiday
times.
RESILIENCE: the capacity of a system
change (or absorb shocks’ or perturbations)
in order to maintain the same identity.
5
KEY
CONCEPTS
PREFACE……………….…………………………….3
STUDY SUMMARY ……………….………………7
IMPACT ……………….……………………………...9
RECOMMENDATIONS ……………….………..10
RESOURCES ……………….………………………14
APPENDIX A ……………….…………………….. 15
APPENDIX B ……………….……………………..16
APPENDIX C ……………….…………………….. 17
APPENDIX D ……………….…………………….. 19
6
STUDY SUMMARY
7
RATIONALE
Student-led sustainability initiatives are increasingly championed as a method to foster pro-
sustainability attitude and behaviour change. However, students are transient. That is, their degrees
are time limited, and within their degrees they spend long periods away from the university for
holidays, fieldwork, and so on. This has considerable impact on how they are managed. In spite of
this, understandings of the impacts of transience are superficial and fragmented. Therefore, there is
a need to better understand this phenomenon so student-led food gardens can be managed in order
to achieve the aims they are proported to have.
AIMS
The study aimed to better understand how students’ transience impacts university student-led food
gardens and how these impacts might be managed, through:
vReviewing academic literature to assess benefits of sustainable university community
gardens1
vMapping the patterns of causes and effects related to students’ transience
vEvaluating the resilience of Student Eats gardens
vExploring actions gardens’ stakeholders can take to address negative impacts of students’
transience and build resilience into the gardens
KEY FINDINGS
vThe main benefits of student-led food gardens are learning and education (see Appendix A)
according to the literature review
§Initial findings show that the main type of learning/education that took place was not to
do with fostering pro-sustainability attitudes/behaviours; rather it was more akin to
process-oriented types of learning (see Appendix B)
vTransience caused problematic forms of participation (like short-term, irregular, and low
participation) (see Appendix C)
§The negative impacts of problematic participation actually increased problematic
participation itself, resulting in a vicious cycle (e.g., less social interaction, caused by low
participation, further lowered participation)
§This indicates that strategies to address them impacts of transience should target both
the causes and effects of problematic participation together since they are mutually
reinforcing
vStudents and university/students’ union staff likely had different conceptions of time, which
was a source of tension (see Appendix D)
§Students thought of time in a linear way, whereas staff thought of time as being cyclical
vThe gardens were not very resilient to students’ transience, particularly because of:
§a lack of long-term participants
§a lack of gardener autonomy over the garden space (in some cases)
§limited time allocation for university staff (especially grounds teams) to engage with
students
§periods of cliquey-nesswithin the garden groups
1As a proxy for student-led food gardens.
8
§a lack of trust between students and university staff (in some cases)
§a lack of embeddednesswithin university/students’ union structures
§a lack of monitoring of the quality of relationships between gardeners and students’
union/university staff, the physical state of the garden, and the balance between an
emphasis on recruitment vs the ’coregardening activities
§a lack of tolerance to uncertainty and ambiguity
§a lack of knowledge/skills retention within the gardens
vA portfolio of strategies to address the impacts of students’ transience was developed (see
Appendix E)
METHOD
The study used an action research approach. Action research is a method where a researcher
collaborates with other stakeholders to (1) collectively develop a common understanding of a
problem, (2) plan action to address the problem, (3) take action, and (4) evaluate actions taken.
Three student-led food gardens (at Keele, Warwick, and Sheffield Universities) funded through
the Student Eats scheme were collaborated with, and one workshop was run at the Student Eats
conference in 2017 with participants from other Student Eats gardens as well. Throughout this
process, the following methods were used:
vQuantitative systematic literature review
vInterviews
vWorkshops to plan and evaluate action
vPhotovoice (students were invited to take photos themed around transience’ and
problematic participation’ and discuss them together in a group) (see Figure 1)
vFishbowl discussion (a method for large group dialogue; used at the Student Eats conference)
vResearch diary
Figure 1. A photo and caption submitted by a student gardener to the photovoice component of the
study.
2 The impact of this action may not be attributable to this study given that it likely would have
taken place regardless of whether this study took place. However, it was an action that was
planned and executed within the framework of this study which is why it is included here.
IMPACT
9
So it’s been kind of useful to have this engagement. Just full stop. To have some kind of
sense of outside perspective being brought in. Whatever that perspective is. It’s just helped
us to think about our own actions and what actions might be best to address the problems
we’re facing. Rather than, which has kind of been the norm so far. Which is that we are
acutely aware of the problem… but not… reallyever really doing anything about it.
[laughs] It’s just, kind of, making that part of the experience of the garden. We all struggle
in summer. ‘Well, don’t you know the agricultural calendar is the inverse of the academic
calendar!’ And, you know, I just find myself saying that, for, like the millionth time. And, it’s
been like, well I guess we’d better do something about that then. And I have done things
off the back of this research that I wouldn’t have otherwise done.
Student gardener
Because this study used an approach called ’action research,’ there were some
concrete outcomes. These were:
vSparking dialogue about how to manage the impacts of students’ transience in
three Student Eats gardens and at the Student Eats conference in 2017
vStudents exhibiting photos exploring themes related to transience at the Student
Eats Conference in 2017 (see Figure 1)
vStudents experimenting with actions to address some of the impacts of students’
transience, including:
§Embedding the allotment at Warwick University in an official campus map
§Inviting friends to gardening sessions at the allotment at Warwick University
§Posting on the allotment’s Facebook page at Warwick University
§Creating signage to provide directions to the entrance of the Walled Garden
(where the Student Eats garden is located) at Keele University
§Creating a blog, Twitter account, and Facebook events for the garden at
Keele University
§Setting up elections for the garden at Keele University2
§Adding gardening sessions to at postgraduate events calendar, resulting in
the events being included in weekly emails to postgraduates at Keele
University
vReports and videos about how to manage the impacts of students’ transience
were created for students involved in university food garden schemes and
university/students’ union/SOS staff supporting such schemes
RECCOMENDATIONS
to Students Organising for Sustainability
STRATEGIES TO MANAGE THE IMPACTS OF TRANSIENCE
The recommended strategies for how students’ union and university staff can help manage the
impacts of transience in student-led food gardens are in Table 1. Each garden and university is
unique in the way they are set up, and therefore they will run in different ways and are subject
to different challenges. As such, some reccommended strategies may be more relevant to your
context than others.
… the uncertainty that, you knowevery session I’m wondering how many people are going to turn
up. Did I make a good enough effort remind people that there is a session on today? Is the weather
going to stop people from turning up? And then, also, the more general thing that has to do with
that is who’s going to run it over the summer when the students that are going home are gone?
Who’s going to run it when the most amount of people… and also who’s going to run it next year? Is
it going to dissolve? Or is there going to be a group of people in the spring that are like, ‘Yeah, we
want to take it on!’
Student gardener
10
STRATEGIES ACTIONS
Ensure students
feel supported
Ensure there is an appropriate balance between staff and student
involvement such that students feel supported but that students’
autonomy over the garden and how it is run is retained
Reassure students when they face challenges and become frustrated or
disappointed
‘Kick-start’ the garden if it falls into a period of low participation/inactivity
Be responsive and timely in interactions with students, but acknowledge
they are volunteers and may still be learning to extend the same level of
professionalism you are able to offer
Students’ unions should offer support with raising awareness of the
garden, recruiting new participants, running the garden as a student
society and support knowledge handover (e.g., through training or helping
handover plans and documentation)
Staff with gardening experience can offer to share their knowledge/skills
Work closely with other staff supporting the garden, whether they be in
the students’ union, an academic, in the estates, grounds, or operations
team, at the National Union of Students, or elsewhere
Table 1. Strategies and actions to manage the impacts of transience in student-led food gardens.
11
STRATEGIES ACTIONS
Support students
to maintain an
appropriate and
well-managed
space
Provide physical infrastructure required for gardening (e.g., water taps),
infrastructure to reduce the maintenance needs of the space (e.g., raised
beds), sheltered space for gardening in poor weather, and create social
spaces (e.g., seating)
If you are setting up a garden from scratch, consider its location with
regards to connectivity with the rest of the campus
Ensure the space is widely accessible, including out of business hours
Pay attention to the physical state of the garden as an indicator of the
overall status of the gardening group
Support students
in running
events
and activities
Fund visits, short courses, or other events or activities, as appropriate
Increase the
garden’s
visibility
Put the garden on the university campus map
Create signage directing people to the garden and/or an interpretive sign
for the gardening space
Nurture
students’
interest and
creativity
Devolve as much decision-making power to students as possible
Ensure that averting risk stifles students’ creativity and self-
determination as little as possible
Support students
to create
organisational
infrastructure
Students’ unions can provide gardeners with the framework to set up a
student society and reminders to have elections
Support student
gardeners to
document and
plan
Help students transfer plans and documentation on to future
generations of students
Prompt students to document and plan at appropriate intervals (e.g., plan
at the beginning of the academic calendar, document progress before
summer holidays)
Support students
to embed the
garden within
wider
organisational
instructure
Add gardening sessions to university calendars, into internal
communications, and on university webpages
Academic staff can offer to embed the garden in their formal curricula,
where appropriate
Grounds or operations staff can embed the garden within the schedules
to mow lawns and provide compost, if relevant
Embed the responsibility for the garden into university or students’
union’s staff member’s role description
Embed opportunities for reflection about taking part in the garden in
leadership accreditations, volunteering awards, or other such
schemes, as relevant
Support student
gardeners to
maintain healthy
relationships &
social networks
Help mediate interpersonal conflicts between gardeners, as appropriate
Pay attention to power asymmetries between staff and students, and
develop strategies to compensate for them
Pay attention to the quality of relationships between staff and
students to identify changes, especially changes for the worse
what about the... the general dynamic of the university being very, very careful, and very, very
cautious with what they do? And what they allow? Maybe? And students being more progressive
and wanting to do more edgy things… or more just try. Because it’s a playground, isn’t it? A
university. You try out things
Student gardener
It’s just not really our space is it? You can’t really do what we want with it. It’s really limited, so
much. When you don’t feel like you own the place. Yeah, it’s just, you’re, like, just extracted for labour
basically.
Student gardener
STUDENT-STAFF COOPERATION
There are several reccomendations that require a little further explanation. These are the
suggestions to do with student-staff relationships, and student learning.
This study highlighted that positive and productive student-staff relationships were of
crucial importance. However, in some cases there was friction between student gardeners and
staff. There were several reasons for this. One is that universities tend to be risk-adverse
organisations, and therefore students perceived university staff to be overly cautious about
devolving responsibility (e.g., for a plot of land) to students. This made gardeners cautious
about having more university or students’ union involvement for fear they would lose
autonomy over the garden space.
Another is that students and staff may have different conceptions of time (see Appendix D).
Because of their linear conception of time, students struggled to see how their own
transience impacted the garden. This meant that students sometimes had unrealistic
expectations for what they could achieve in their garden. It also meant that students’ abilities to
take meaningful action to address the impacts of their transience was sometimes inhibited.
12
STRATEGIES ACTIONS
Adequately
resource the
garden
Ensure time is allotted for supporting students, preferably from both
more traditionally student-facing roles (i.e., students’ union or
sustainability staff) and estates, grounds, or operations staff
Consider paid part-time student roles for coordinating the garden and
volunteering activities in the garde
Collaborate in
decision-making
Ensure students are actively involved in decision-making about the
garden space
Work closely with other staff supporting the garden, whether they be in
the students’ union, an academic, in the estates, grounds, or operations
team, at the National Union of Students, or elsewhere
Engage in
reflective
learning
Be open to learning because you don’t know what you don’t know
Reflect, and be open minded with people who might not think the same
way as you do because you never know what you might learn from that
interaction even if it is uncomfortable!
Support
students in their
learning
Encourage students to think of learning as a process rather than an
outcome
On the other hand, it is likely that most staff have cyclical experiences of time (because of
recurring patterns and routines every year). Perhaps because of this, students perceived that
staff were not always mindful of the fact that approaching staff in ”positions of powercould be
intimidatingbecause interactions with students were so routine for them (student gardener
quote).
As such, it is vital that students’ union and university staff:
vPay attention to power asymmetries between staff and students, and develop strategies
to compensate for them
vSupport students to manage their ’blind spots
§Recognise that students may be over-ambitious, but be sensitive not to demotivate
or dismiss student ideas entirely when managing expectations
§Most students struggle to perceive the impacts of their transience over the long-
term, so students need help to:
Carry information (including plans and documentation) from current to future
generations of students
Carry out long-term projects within their garden
Embed their garden within existing students’ union/university infrastructure
(e.g., maps, calendars, signage, recurring events)
STUDENT LEARNING
The main outcome of the gardens was education. However, students tended to have a low
tolerance to uncertainty and ambiguity, which can inhibit learning. Students also tended to
speak about learning in a way that showed that they thought of learning as the passive
absorbtion of information, and that being educated is an outcome rather than an ongoing
process. Active approaches to experimentation and learning, as well as tolerance to uncertainty
and ambiguity are important contributors to resilience. Helping students with these can help
address the impacts of transience.
Students’ union and university staff can therefore help facilitate more effective learning into
student-led food gardens by:
vProviding opportunities for students to reflect on their involvement in the garden,
possibly through embedding reflection questions related to volunteering or co-curricular
activities in leadership development certifications or volunteer accreditation schemes
vEncouraging students to think of learning as a process rather than an outcome by:
§role-modeling and encouraging a sense of curiosity and adventure about gardening
vSupporting students build their tolerance to uncertainty and ambiguity by:
§reassuring students that what they are going through is normal and that they are
doing a good job when they face challenges and/or become frustrated/disappointed
13
RESOURCES
Academic publications about this study
Laycock Pedersen, R., & Robinson, Z. (2018).
Reviewing University Community Gardens for
Sustainability: taking stock, comparisons with
urban community gardens and mapping research
opportunities.Local Environment,23(6), 652-671.
Laycock Pedersen, R., Robinson, Z. P., & Surman,
E. (2019). Understanding Transience and
Participation in University Student-Led Food
Gardens. Sustainability,11(10), 2788.
References
Sterling, S. (2010). Learning for resilience, or the
resilient learner? Towards a necessary
reconciliation in a paradigm of sustainable
education.Environmental Education Research,16(5-
6), 511-528.
Vare, P., & Scott, W. (2008). Education for
Sustainable Development: two sides and an edge.
DEA Thinkpiece. Retrieved on August 3, 2019, from
https://www.academia.edu/21256086/Education
_for_Sustainable_Development_two_sides_and
_an_edge
14
Figure 2. The percent of articles reporting different types of benefits of sustainable university
community gardens.
APPENDIX A:
Impacts of sustainable university
community gardens
Figure 2 shows the number of articles about sustainable university community gardens that
discussed or demonstrated various benefits of the garden(s) they wrote about. Overall, educational
benefits dominated, followed by social benefits and benefits to the university.
More information about this can be found in the following article:
Laycock Pedersen, R., & Robinson, Z. (2018). Reviewing University Community Gardens for
Sustainability: taking stock, comparisons with urban community gardens and mapping research
opportunities.Local Environment,23(6), 652-671.
15
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Social
Access to Fresh Foods
Eco n omic
Health
Reduced Crime/Increased Safety
Edu c at ion
Env iro nm ental Su stain ability *
Cultural Hertitage/Development
Life Satisfaction
Env iro nm ental Equ ity
Increased Biodive rsity
Eng ageme nt, At titud es & Beh avio urs for Sust.
Additional Benefits to Individual Participants
Benefits to the University
Percent
Benefits
Dis cus sed and
De mo ns tra te d
Benefit
Dis c us se d
Benefit
APPENDIX B:
Learning in student-led food gardens
INSTRUMENTAL VS INTRINSIC SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION
The literature review in this study found that the main benefit of student-led food gardens was
education. In research on sustainability education (also called Education for Sustainable
Development (ESD), Education for Sustainability (EfS), Environmental Education (EE)), there are two
main traditions:
vThe instrumental tradition, which focuses on education for sustainability that is, education
“as a means to an end” (Vare & Scott, 2008; Sterling, 2010, p. 513). In this tradition, the focus is
on the outcomes of education, such as attitude or behaviour change.
vThe intrinsic tradition, focuses on education as sustainability that is, education where the
focus is on the learnersabilities ”to make sound choices in the face of uncertainty and
complexity of the future” (Vare & Scott, 2008, p. 3). In this tradition, the focus is on the process
of education.
In short, the instrumental tradition focuses more on the real-world changes facilitated by learning,
while the intrinsic tradition focuses on empowering learners to be critical change agents regardless
of what situations they might find themselves in in future. In theory, these are seperate
approaches, but in practice it is rare that these ever exist in isolation.
LEARNING IN STUDENT EATS GARDENS
In this study, initial findings suggest that the main type of learning that takes place in the Student
Eats gardens was a more process-oriented, or emancipatory, type of learning.
Students who were involved tended to have strong sustainability sensibilities and, as a result,
already had pro-sustainability attitudes/undertook pro-sustainability behaviours. However, there
was still considerable learning taking place, but of a different kind. Students were negotiating their
place in the sustainability movement, learning what realistic tasks for part-time volunteers are, and
about the types of tasks voluntary (and, indeed, professional) organisations need to undertake to
be successful, for example.
16
APPENDIX C:
Dynamics of the impacts of transience
Figure 3, below, shows the relationships between the different factors impacted by students’
transience. Green arrows show that an increase in the factor the arrow leads away from increases
the factor that the arrow is pointing towards. Red arrows show that an increase in the factor the
arrow leads away from decreases the factor that the arrow is pointing towards. For example, the
amount of potential new recruits increases the amount of new participants, however barriers to
participation decrease the amount of new participants.
Three reinforcing feedback loops can be seen. Reinforcing feedbacks exponentially increase all
factors until a system (in this case, the garden) becomes unstable (unless there is something to
balance it). The only balance here is that students’ transience, while directly increasing problematic
participation, also decreases it by refreshing the pool of potential new recruits every year. This
shows that the gardens tend to be very vulnerable (that is, not very resilient) to students’
transience.
More information about this can be found in the following article:
Laycock Pedersen, R., Robinson, Z. P., & Surman, E. (2019). Understanding Transience and
Participation in University Student-Led Food Gardens. Sustainability,11(10), 2788.
17
Potential new recruits
New participants
Problematic participation
Problems
Barriers to participation
Students’ transience
Figure 3. The relationships between different factors impacted by students’ transience.
Barriers to getting people
‘through the garden gate’
Cultural barrier
Busy, lack of time,
competing
commitments
Lack of external
support
Expectations and
misconceptions
Lack of confidence
Do not see the
benefits
Cost
People haven’t heard
of it
Physical space
Barriers to continued
engagement
Unwillingness to
commit
Students
experimenting
People forgetting to
come
Poor weather and
seasonal issues
Extent of
organisational
structure
Ownership issues
Lack of opportunity to
self-determine
Cliquey-ness and
cohesion
Conflict and internal
politics
Lack of vision
Lack of responsibility
Lack of initiative
Lack of motivation
Expectations and
misconceptions
Barriers to participation Potential new recruits
New participants
Low participation
Irregular participation
Short-term participation
Problematic participation
Problems
Constant need to recruit
Fast-changing and
unpredictable
organizational structure
Friction between short-
term and long-term
stakeholders
Discontinuity and
difficulty in ensuring
longevity
Not seeing the results of
your work
Short-term thinking and
lack of insight into
transience
Knowledge/skills deficit
and lack of
knowledge/skills transfer
Lack of funding
Overburdened,
Overwhelmed, and just
burned out
Inadequate maintenance
Less social interaction
Negative emotional
responses
+
Students’ transience
Figure 4, below, builds on Figure 3 to show the specific barriers to participation and impacts of
problematic participation.
18
Figure 4. The relationships between different factors impacted by students’ transience including specific
barriers to participation and impacts of problematic participation.
APPENDIX D:
Student and staff conceptions of time
Students and university/students’ union staff appeared to have different understandings of time.
Students saw time in a ’linearway because they saw their involvement in the gardens as a time-
limited activity or a ’one-off mission.’ In other words, participation in the gardens was seen as an
activity with a beginning, middle and and end. For university/students’ union staff, time was seen
in a more ’cyclicalway because staff involvement in the garden tends to take place over a longer
time. Therefore, it would be expected they would see recuccuring patterns and routines that came
in cycles.
The implications of this were that each year or two, new students joined the gardens and
experienced the challenges of being involved in such a project for the first time. For example, new
students would have to approach university or students’ union staff that they found intimidating
and be challenged by the power dynamics at play. For staff, however, these interactions were
routine. Furthermore, possibly because students had linear perceptions of time, many struggled to
see how their own transience impacted the gardens. This inhibited their ability to take
meaningful action to address the impacts of their transience.
19
Figure 6. The cyclical perception of time expected to be held by university/students’ union staff.
Second semester
Freshers' fair and
introductory activities
Spring break
Exams
First semester
Freshers' fair and
introductory activities
Winter break
Exams
Summer holiday
Second semester
Freshers' fair and
introductory activities
Spring break
Exams
First semester
Freshers' fair and
introductory activities
Winter break
Exams
Summer holiday
Figure 5. The linear perception of time held by students.
I welcome dialogue about
my research and any of the
topics in this report.
If you have any questions or
comments, please contact:
Rebecca Laycock Pedersen
Environment &
Sustainability
William Smith
Keele University
Keele ST5 5BJ
UK
rebecca.laycock@gmail.com
+46 (0) 733448523
Twitter: @bekkika
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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Whether we view sustainable development as our greatest challenge or a subversive litany, every phase of education is now being urged to declare its support for education for sustainable development (ESD). In this paper, we explore the ideas behind ESD and, building on work by Foster and by Scott and Gough, we argue that it is necessary now to think of two complementary approaches: ESD 1 and ESD 2. We see ESD 1 as the promotion of informed, skilled behaviours and ways of thinking, useful in the short-term where the need is clearly identified and agreed, and ESD 2 as building capacity to think critically about what experts say and to test ideas, exploring the dilemmas and contradictions inherent in sustainable living. We note the prevalence of ESD 1 approaches, especially from policy makers; this is a concern because people rarely change their behaviour in response to a rational call to do so, and more importantly, too much successful ESD 1 in isolation would reduce our capacity to manage change ourselves and there- fore make us less sustainable. We argue that ESD 2 is a necessary complement to ESD 1, making it meaningful in a learning sense. In this way we avoid an either-or debate in favour of a yes-and approach that constantly challenges us to understand what we are communicating, how we are going about it and, crucially, why we are doing it in the first place.
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 urgency of building more resilient local social–ecological systems (SES), and that such a view offers the possibility of new energy and direction in the sustainability education debate. The paper is essentially a thinkpiece that attempts to look at touchstones between discourses to suggest the possibilities and potential of mutual illumination and better integration. The paper begins by reviewing tensions between an instrumentalist view and an intrinsic value view of environmental and sustainability education, the former seeing such education as a means to individual and social change, the latter upholding the primacy of the autonomous learner who, secondarily may – or may not – take action towards sustainability. The paper then considers the discourse of the resilient learner, before reviewing social learning literature linked to resilience and discussing how far these various views can be brought together and reconciled. Parallels are made with tensions in the debate on sustainability when seen as a desirable ideal, or as a process. Transformative learning theory is then introduced in relation to addressing the paradox of resilient but maladaptive worldviews and the need to educate for resilience. The paper concludes with an argument for a transformative education paradigm – ‘sustainable education’ – which necessarily integrates instrumental and intrinsic views and which nurtures resilient learners able to develop resilient social–ecological systems in the face of a future of threat, uncertainty and surprise.
  • R Laycock Pedersen
  • Robinson
Laycock Pedersen, R., & Robinson, Z. (2018).