Divergent evolution in education for sustainable development policy in the United Kingdom: Current status, best practice, and opportunities for the future

Stephen Martin, James Dillon, Peter Higgins, Carl Peters, William Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper discusses the current status of all aspects of education for sustainable development (ESD) across the United Kingdom (UK), drawing on evidence from its political jurisdictions (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), and setting out some characteristics of best practice. The paper analyzes current barriers to progress, and outlines future opportunities for enhancing the core role of education and learning in the pursuit of a more sustainable future. Although effective ESD exists at all levels, and in most learning contexts across the UK, with good teaching and enhanced learner outcomes, the authors argue that a wider adoption of ESD would result from the development of a strategic framework which puts it at the core of the education policy agenda in every jurisdiction. This would provide much needed coherence, direction and impetus to existing initiatives, scale up and build on existing good practice, and prevent unnecessary duplication of effort and resources. The absence of an overarching UK strategy for sustainable development that sets out a clear vision about the contribution learning can make to its goals is a major barrier to progress. This strategy needs to be coupled with the establishment of a pan-UK forum for overseeing the promotion, implementation and evaluation of ESD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1522-1544
Number of pages23
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2013

Keywords

  • Education policy
  • ESD
  • Sustainable development
  • UK
  • UN Decade (UNDESD)
  • UNESCO

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