RCE Dublin - 2019

Radical Re-orientations in Education for Sustainability: NEW EfS Learning Ecologies in Higher Education
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Radical Re-orientations in Education for Sustainability: NEW EfS Learning Ecologies in Higher Education
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Dublin
Contributing organization(s) : 
An Tasice
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Charlotte Holland
Organizational Affiliation: 
Dublin City University
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
National Strategy on Education For Sustainable Development IRELAND
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Dublin City University - Strategic Goal 8: Sustainability
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Dublin City University
Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

EfS Learning Ecologies across all disciplinary areas in/ for sustainability
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Over the past 5 years, Dublin City University has become a living model of sustainability, and has been awarded Green Flags from the national environmental agency in Ireland for its work in environmental protection to date. DCU has 5 campuses in North Dublin, some of which are located in areas of socio-economic disadvantage and others are in more affluent areas. In terms of environmental protection, the University has carefully managed its development, to ensure protection and growth of green spaces, and furthermore has established a thriving horticultural enterprise with engagement from community within and beyond the University. the University has implemented many measures to promote and model sustainable practices, such as banning the use of single-use plastics, and reducing energy and water conservation across a wide range of areas and units on campus. The strategy for sustainability at DCU has been enhanced by the appointment of a Director of Sustainability, and the formation of a Sustainability Steering Committee which has representation from academic staff, student population, administrative staff as well as representatives from outside the university. It engages on many diverse projects to promote sustainable practice within its connected communities beyond the campus.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
DCU has made excellent progress in enabling change within the practice of sustainability and embodies sustainability at its core within the environmental level of sustainability. A key challenge within the University has been enabling swift progress on infusing sustainability within courses and programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This is the challenge that is currently being addressed by this project, Radical Re-orientations in Education for Sustainability: NEW EfS Learning Ecologies in Higher Education .
July, 2018
This project is being implemented during a critical period in Ireland, where there is broad recognition within political, governmental, education and public circles that action must be taken now to protect the planet, peoples and prosperity. Therefore, there is political and societal support for educational initiatives that can foster positive action for sustainability. In this respect, this project aims to launch educational enterprises that support staff and student engagement with Education for Sustainability in new and creative ways at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in a higher education institution in Ireland. The on-going learning from this initiative will be shared through RCE Dublin's social media throughout the period of the project.
The aim of this project is to:
1) Design and develop EfS educational resources and content that can be integrated across a range of disciplinary areas in higher education
2) Provide training for Higher Education academic staff in new and innovative EfS pedagogies (such as the Disruptive Learning techniques) that be used to engage higher education students in critical reflection on sustainability, and their own role in protecting the planet and peoples.
3) Devise a set of Sustainability-related competencies, and outline appropriate means of assessing same in higher education contexts.
4) Map the current integration of sustainability in DCU, and develop strategy for infusion of sustainability across all higher education programmes.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The activities employed in activating these objectives include:
1) establishment of a sub-committee to guide the design, implementation and evaluation of the EfS infusion process
2) literature review of mapping exercises, pedagogies and competencies frameworks for EfS in Higher education
3) development of core materials, which will be offered in the form of online EfS learning objects across a range of disciplinary areas
4) design of staff training in EfS, and resource materials
Size of academic audience: 
Staff and students in higher education
The process of infusing sustainability within programmes is currently being activated through DCU Futures initiative.
An evaluation of the integration of SDGs across undergraduate programmes in one Faculty was undertaken 2019-2021, with outcomes identifying the pattern and depth of SDG integration across these programmes. The University has moved to incorporate transversal skills - which include competencies of futures literacy and sustainability - across all programmes.
Lessons learned: 
A core challenge is in reaching consensus on what should be covered within ESD, and in the process of integrating sustainability. The bolt-on ESD model is seen as the obvious solution, and of course the integration of single foundational module on EfS/SD can be readily actioned. However, the evidence base for the effectiveness of this Bolt-on type of EfS model shows that it hasn't been particularly effective in higher education contexts. Furthermore, a key challenge is in convincing decision-makers and staff to use the alternative 'infusion ESD' model as it takes a longer time to implement, and involves considerable on-site training and resourcing.
Key messages: 
Radical Re-orientations in Education for Sustainability: NEW EfS Learning Ecologies in Higher Education
This project is focused on promoting and supporting that type of EfS Learning Ecologies that not only raise awareness of key concepts, contexts, principles and practices of sustainability, but further inspires higher education students and staff to take action for sustainability in their daily lives.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The project is related to work underway at a National level to try to bring those infusing sustainability in higher education together to streamline the integration of ESD across all higher education institutions.
This work has been supported by the Higher Education Authority of Ireland, who distributed funding to higher education institutions across Ireland in 2018 to promote the integration of sustainability within the curricula of tertiary institutions.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon LearningEcologyDCU.jpg (27.87 KB) EfS Learning Ecologies
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
Curriculum Development 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
I acknowledge the above: