Learning to teach sustainability
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has been a central field of action in Germany's sustainability strategy since the beginning of the ESD-UN Decade (2005-2014), which was first agreed in 2002. Further impulses are provided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), here especially SDG 4 “Quality Education” and the UNESCO World Action Programme “Education for Sustainable Development” (WAP) (2015-2019).
The National Action Plan on ESD (NAP) implemented in June 2017 follows the international agreements and forms the basis for the national implementation. The WAP has recently been replaced by the UNESCO programme “Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the SDGs” ("ESD for 2030") (2020-2030). The central element is the ESD 2030 Roadmap, which provides the orientation framework for implementation. Since the beginning of the sustainability strategy process, ESD has also been a central field of action in the sustainability strategy of the state of Baden-Württemberg. By anchoring ESD as a guiding perspective in the education plans for schools and in the state-wide binding framework regulations and subject papers for teacher education, Baden-Württemberg is a nationwide pioneer in the structural implementation of ESD.
Education that enables people to think and behave in a sustainable way is central to sustainable development. The effects of individual action are made comprehensible, enabling people to take decisions that are in line with sustainable development.
Against this background, the competencies of teachers as multipliers are attributed a special role and defined by UNESCO as one of the central goals of the World Action Programme on ESD. For the implementation of ESD in different professional fields, but especially in schools, the training of future teachers and their lecturers at university is central. In contrast to ESD-related educational training for the 2nd phase (traineeship) and 3rd phase (professional training), there are hardly any structured offers for the implementation of ESD in the 1st phase (studies) for teachers in the higher education sector so far. Moreover, the knowledge of concepts and topics of ESD among trainers is mostly insufficient. Thus, it is to be expected that despite the anchoring of ESD in teacher training, there will still be no consistent implementation of the ESD concept in higher education. The same applies to students in other occupational fields in which sustainability is becoming increasingly important.
To support this educational goal, the project “Learning to Teach Sustainability” is developing a structured and staged concept to promote ESD in higher education teaching with a focus on teacher training. The project thus makes a substantial contribution to the UNESCO programme “ESD 2030” and to the implementation of the SDGs, in particular SDG 4, target goal 4.7. The concept includes an introduction in basic principles of ESD, workshops on the interdisciplinary implementation of ESD in teaching, and individual support and coaching. In the sense of blended learning, these modules are supplemented by digital, location-independent e-learning-units. The implementation thus has an impact beyond universities and into schools.
The project is flanked by the course "Learning to Teach Sustainability", which is offered every semester on both universities as part of the lecture series “Education for Sustainable Development” (Heidelberg University of Education). As part of the cooperation between the Heidelberg Centre for Education for Sustainable Development of the Heidelberg University of Education and the Heidelberg University with regional partner schools from the "Cooperation Cluster Sustainability", students are trained as sustainability coaches. The cooperation builds on many years of collaboration with schools and teachers in the context of education for sustainable development.
The project “Learning to Teach Sustainability” is hosted by the Department of Geography - Research Group for Earth Observation (rgeo) within the scope of the Heidelberg Center for Education for Sustainable Development of the Heidelberg University of Education. It is carried out in cooperation with the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE) at Heidelberg University, represented by the TdLab Geography.
The Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts (MWK BW) and the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector (UM BW) of Baden-Württemberg are funding the implementation of the project in a state-level project, partly funded by “Glücksspirale”.
The nationwide dissemination is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
M. Sc. Teresa Ruckelshauß
M. Sc. Ann-Kathrin Schlieszus
Dr. Kathrin Foshag