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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education and Sport : Education

Postgraduate Course: Education for the Environment and Sustainability (EDUA11450)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education and Sport CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course focuses on the current climate crisis by exploring the ways in which education, as a form of practice, can address and mitigate environmental degradation. At the same time, the course broadens the scope of what we examine as "education" to incorporate variable cultural beliefs and learning practices, including local activism as well as traditional Indigenous knowledge and engagement with the natural world. It will explore a wide range of relationships between education and the environment in different localities as well as highlighting learning through and from activism. In the course, we will critically engage with several key concepts present in environmental discourse, such as the Anthropocene and the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), as well as explore the entangled relationship between environmentalism and education. It will accomplish this by two principle means. First, we will examine environmental education in school-based contexts, with a strong focus on sustainable curriculums and eco-school designs. Second, we will engage in an in-depth understanding of Indigenous relationships to the environment in places where the impact of climate change is most notably severe, such as Amazonia, the Pacific Islands, and the Artic. Climate and eco-justice will be lens used to explore all sections of the course. Finally, the course will examine the difficulties and challenges associated with cross-cultural communication about and around environmental issues as presented by various agents on the global stage. We offer a strong emphasize on various ways these concerns can be addressed including how to negotiate radically different perspectives, ending the course with an overview of a comprehensive understanding of the power of education for ensuring sustainable futures.
Course description This course will explore various engagements between humans and the environment in great depth and in various contexts, with a particular focus on learning and knowledge, while critically engaging with concepts like the Anthropocene and the SDGs. Throughout all aspects of the course, we will explicitly apply the lens of climate justice to the discussion. The course will begin with a focus on school-based iterations of environmental education, and explore how this is translated into practice within the classroom, through the curriculum, and by employing innovative school design. Then the focus will shift to non-Western perspectives on human-nature relationships, with particular attention to parts of the world that have been dealing with the most severe effects of climate change, Indigenous and other marginal populations. By examining in-depth ethnographic accounts of Indigenous traditional knowledge, beliefs and practices surrounding the environment in Amazonia, the Pacific and the Artic, students will expand their understandings of formal and informal environmental education outcomes. Finally, the course will engage with the challenges accompanying the translation of cultural beliefs and characterizations of the environment on the global stage by exploring a range of climate summits and global policies. Building on these conversations, the course will explore ways in which we can successfully communicate cross-culturally in the pursuit of sustainable futures.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1. Learning Log (50%): Three instalments of a reflective learning log where the student documents how the course has shifted their ideas around human-nature relationships, environmental knowledge, and how we can use education as a tool to address climate concerns. In their log entries, they will be encouraged to critically examine the material we cover throughout the course, to think of environmental education in a broad, inclusive sense, and explore the role of cultural contexts and activism in relationships with/to the environment, demonstrating cross-cultural respect and understanding. There will be a wide variety of options for the log, including written journal entries, film, animation, and/or podcast creation. The first entry will receive formative feedback and the log will be marked holistically at the end of the course.
2. Developing an environmentally motivated intervention (50%): With this assessment, we invite students to think creatively about ways in which they could develop a practical intervention grounded in ecological/environmental knowledge in education. Again, they will have a range of options, including prompts and an open-ended option, to make this a creative and inclusive assessment. For example, they could write a single lesson plan integrating some knowledge from the course, illustrate how to integrate environmental awareness and best practice into curriculum or school design more broadly, or develop an idea for an activist intervention. The key aspect of this assessment would be drawing theory into practice, and thinking critically about actual steps towards addressing the environmental crisis using educational tools.
Feedback Formative feedback on first entry of learning log,
Summative written feedback on both the overall learning log and the intervention.
Peer-feedback opportunities throughout the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationship between education and the environment, climate justice and the role of activism in sustainable change, and the various ways in which education can mitigate the climate crisis.
  2. Examine innovative and different ways of implementing environmental education in various contexts, through the lens of novel school design and sustainable curriculum.
  3. Confidently and sensitively explore cross-cultural understandings of and engagements with the environment.
  4. Critically discuss and analyse ethnographic approaches to various characterizations of nature and environmental practices in different cultural contexts.
  5. Critically evaluate the challenges associated with expressing different beliefs and understandings of the environment cross-culturally on the global stage, particularly in relation to SDGs, and explore ways to address these concerns.
Reading List
Ahmad, Z., Arya, D., Bell, K., McGregor, C., Scandrett, E. and Temper, L. (2022) 'Environmentalism from the Margins: Interviews with Scholar-Activists', Community Development Journal, 57(1), pp. 132-166.
Evans, N.(S)., Inwood, H., Christie, B. and Ärlemalm-Hagsér, E. (2021), 'Comparing education for sustainable development in initial teacher education across four countries', International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 22(6), pp. 1351-1372.
Kimmerer, R. W. (2013) Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants / Robin Wall Kimmerer. First edition. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Milkweed Editions.
O'Neill, K. and Sinden, C. (2021) 'Universities, Sustainability and Neoliberalism: Contradictions of the Climate Emergency Declarations', Politics and Governance, 9(2), pp. 29-40.
Verlie, B., and Flynn, A. (2022). School strike for climate: A reckoning for education. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 38(1), 1-12.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course encourages curiosity towards learning that promotes positive change and fosters passion to engage both locally and globally in relation to sustainable practice.
The course provides a foundation for creative problem solving and critical engagement.
The course will allow students to gain the current knowledge of both key theories and forms of practice, and a critical awareness of current debates around environmental education. They will also be encouraged to apply their knowledge, skills and understanding through designing and delivering innovative and creative responses to problems and issues.
Keywordsenvironment,education,sustainable practice,climate justice,activism,Indigenous knowledge
Course organiserDr Courtney Stafford-Walter
Course secretaryMiss Mariana Duarte
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