Education for Sustainable Development and Teaching: Challenges, Practice and Research

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2021) | Viewed by 35579

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Rijeka, 51 000 Rijeka, Croatia
Interests: education for sustainable development; preschool and teacher education; environmental education; connectedness to nature; sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Education, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Rijeka, 51 000 Rijeka, Croatia
Interests: education for sustainable development; methodology in social sciences
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology (FISPPA), University of Padova, Via Beato Pellegrino, 28, 35137 Padova, Italy
Interests: project evaluation; research in education; ICT; e-learning; education for sustainable development; entrepreneurship in education, psychology, and music education
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Education, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Rijeka, 51 000 Rijeka, Croatia
Interests: education for sustainable development; teacher education; educational psychology; methodology in social sciences

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

SDG 2030 includes 17 global goals that are not achievable without education for sustainable development (ESD). Modern approaches to ESD include interdisciplinary sciences, transformational learning, and the active role of students [1–3].

The implementation of ESD in systems at all levels of education depends on a number of factors, most notably the role of teachers. The final report of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, titled "Shaping the Future We Want" [4], explicitly emphasizes that when it comes to the continuous professional development of preschool and primary school teachers and overall educators, it is necessary to more significantly work on this aspect of education and develop it further. Therefore, it is necessary to review the existing models of education and professional development of educators [5,6]. Educators, namely teachers, are the most important components between students and ESD, and their role is to foster connections with nature, empathy, and positive attitudes about the environment, which are values, attitudes, and behaviors that will be the foundation for more sustainable lifestyles and thus will contribute to SDG 2030 [7].      

This Special Issue of Education Sciences attempts to answer significant questions encompassing a number of factors that are an integral part of ESD-focused practice and that influence initial teacher education and professional development. [8]

  • What are the preconditions for the successful implementation of ESD in education systems at all levels? 
  • What do they depend on, or what factors? How can a more significant connection of children/pupils/students with nature be encouraged, and thus the development of knowledge, values, attitudes, and behaviors meeting the SDG 2030?
  • What are the characteristics of a modern teacher who implements ESD?
  • What are his/her personality traits, values, abilities, and competencies? 

How can we improve teacher education and lifelong professional development for ESD? What are some examples of good practice and research of modern ESD in kindergartens, schools, and universities?
How can digital technology-based education systems respond to these challenges in the context of the “pandemic experiences” of ESD implementation? What are these new pedagogies and new ways of teaching and learning in ESD during the time of COVID-19?

Such a broad goal of this issue of Education Sciences provides an opportunity to view and analyze the problems of modern ESD and professional development of educators in facing the challenges of SDG 2030, but also the challenges of the current era, which are influenced by digital technologies and the global pandemic of COVID-19. 

We invite all interested scientists, practitioners, researchers, and stakeholders who are considering and researching these topics to contribute to the actualization of these complex and significant issues in a world that is undoubtedly changing and seeking new approaches to dealing with ESD. 

References 

  1. Biasutti, M. An intensive programme on education for sustainable development: The participants’ experience, Environmental Education Research, 2015, 21(5), 734–752. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2014.921805
  2. Biasutti, M., T. De Baz, & H. Alshawa. Assessing the Infusion of Sustainability Principles into University Curricula, Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability, 2016, 18 (2), 21–40. https://doi.org/10.1515/jtes-2016-0012
  3. Biasutti, M. & Frate S. A validity and reliability study of the Attitudes toward Sustainable Development scale, Environmental Education Research, 2017, 23 (2), 214–230, https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2016.1146660
  4. UN (2012). The future we want. Outcome document of the United Nations conference on sustainable development. UN https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/733FutureWeWant.pdf (accessed 2 December 2020).
  5. Biasutti, M, Concina E, & Frate S. Social Sustainability and Professional Development: Assessing a Training Course on Intercultural Education for In-Service Teachers, Sustainability, 2019, 11 (5), 1238, https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051238
  6. Biasutti, M, Makrakis, V., Concina E, Frate S. Educating academic staff to reorient curricula in ESD. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 2018, 19 (3). http://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-11-2016-0214
  7. Vukelić, N.; Rončević, N. Vinković, A. (2019) Competencies for Education for Sustainability: Student Teachers’ Perspectives // Collection of papers "Quality of Education: Global Development Goals and Local Strategies" / Orlović Lovren, V. ; Peeters, J. ; Matović, N. (Ed.). Beograd, Srbija: Univerzitet u Beogradu (Srbija) i Ghent University (Belgija), 2019. pp 83–96.
  8. Anđić, D. (2020). Continuing professional development of teachers in Education for Sustainable Development – case study of the Republic of Croatia. Teacher development, 2020, 24, 1–22. https://www.bib.irb.hr/1051020

You may choose our Joint Special Issue in Sustainability.

Prof. Dr. Dunja Anđić
Prof. Dr. Nena Rončević
Prof. Dr. Michele Biasutti
Dr. Nena Vukelić
Guest Editors

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • education for sustainable development
  • teacher education
  • educators
  • connectedness to nature
  • personal traits
  • schools
  • lifelong education
  • professional development

Published Papers (10 papers)

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14 pages, 872 KiB  
Article
Development and Validation of an Assessment Tool for Physical Education for Sustainable Development
by Salvador Baena-Morales, Alejandro Prieto-Ayuso, Sixto González-Víllora and Gladys Merma-Molina
Educ. Sci. 2024, 14(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci14010033 - 28 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1471
Abstract
The study presents the design and validation of a Physical Education for Sustainable Development (PESD) instrument. This consists of a 25-item quantitative instrument that assesses the teaching interventions of physical education teachers. A total of 358 physical education teachers completed the questionnaire. The [...] Read more.
The study presents the design and validation of a Physical Education for Sustainable Development (PESD) instrument. This consists of a 25-item quantitative instrument that assesses the teaching interventions of physical education teachers. A total of 358 physical education teachers completed the questionnaire. The instrument uses an 8-point Likert scale. For the validation of the instrument, content validation, factorial validation, reliability through Cronbach’s alpha, and stability through test–retest were considered. The results show that the PESD is a two-factor instrument with very high reliability (0.95). In addition, positive results were found for the temporal stability of the scale. The principal component factor analysis results show that the scale consists of two factors: (1) environmental, health, and economic sustainability; and (2) social sustainability, gender, and inclusion. This questionnaire is the first valid and reliable tool to measure the ability of physical education teachers to promote attitudes that favour sustainable actions. Full article
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16 pages, 1435 KiB  
Article
Critical Thinking and Effective Personality in the Framework of Education for Sustainable Development
by Gladys Merma-Molina, Diego Gavilán-Martín, Salvador Baena-Morales and Mayra Urrea-Solano
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12010028 - 5 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3484
Abstract
According to UNESCO, critical thinking (CT) is a strategic skill for the 21st century, as it is associated with attitudes of personal and social change and improvement. Based on this, the objectives of this study were (1) to find out the possible relationships [...] Read more.
According to UNESCO, critical thinking (CT) is a strategic skill for the 21st century, as it is associated with attitudes of personal and social change and improvement. Based on this, the objectives of this study were (1) to find out the possible relationships between CT and effective personality (EP) and (2) to determine the extent to which EP predicts the development of CT in children and adolescents. The research approach was quantitative, correlational and predictive. The sample consisted of 562 Spanish students. The measurement instruments were: (1) the Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory and (2) the Efficacy Personality Questionnaire. The main findings showed that there is a positive relationship between EP and CT, with the traits “being enthusiastic”, “developing positive self-esteem” and “having self-confidence” correlating most strongly with CT. The regression analysis shows that EP influences the development of students’ CT. There were no significant differences according to sex, and Primary Education students obtained higher CT scores. It is concluded that the better the promotion of EP, the greater the CT development will be. This suggests the need to design educational programmes for the improvement of EP, especially in adolescents. Full article
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14 pages, 906 KiB  
Article
Student Teachers’ Sustainable Behavior
by Nena Vukelić and Nena Rončević
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(12), 789; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11120789 - 2 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3650
Abstract
This study contributes to the understanding of student teachers’ sustainable behaviors. (Future) teachers are perceived as models of social learning as they model desirable behavior, attitudes, values, and emotions while living and demonstrating a pro-sustainable lifestyle. Therefore, it is essential to understand which [...] Read more.
This study contributes to the understanding of student teachers’ sustainable behaviors. (Future) teachers are perceived as models of social learning as they model desirable behavior, attitudes, values, and emotions while living and demonstrating a pro-sustainable lifestyle. Therefore, it is essential to understand which personal variables, aptitudes, and psychological benefits predispose them towards a pro-sustainable lifestyle. This study’s intent was to consider components that can affect sustainable actions such as psychological tendencies (e.g., attitudes, motives, beliefs, values, norms) and consequences (e.g., well-being or happiness) associated with sustainable actions. This study’s main objective was to test the sustainable behavior model on a sample of student teachers. A total of 496 student teachers participated in the study. The results analyzed by SEM indicate that student teachers’ sustainable behavior is directly predicted by their intention to act, which is both positively and significantly influenced by indignation and affinity towards diversity. Additionally, sustainable behaviors slightly (but statistically significantly) predict the self-assessment of happiness. These findings contribute to a better general understanding of sustainable behaviors’ antecedents and repercussion variables, especially within a student teacher population. Full article
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17 pages, 22487 KiB  
Article
Kit “Energy, Environment and Sustainability”: An Educational Strategy for a Sustainable Future. A Case Study for Guinea-Bissau
by Joana Oliveira, Luísa Neves and Senentxu Lanceros-Mendez
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(12), 787; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11120787 - 2 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2703
Abstract
Increasing the scientific knowledge of the population through education is a development strategy towards a sustainable future. However, there is no equity in the access to science education and scientific knowledge. The aim of this paper is to present and analyse a science [...] Read more.
Increasing the scientific knowledge of the population through education is a development strategy towards a sustainable future. However, there is no equity in the access to science education and scientific knowledge. The aim of this paper is to present and analyse a science kit named “Energy, Environment and Sustainability” (KEAS). Based on research conducted in Guinea-Bissau, it explores strategies to promote science education for a sustainable future. The strengths and limitations of the KEAS were studied using different data collection methods, including interviews, observation, survey, focus groups and document analysis. The participants were teacher trainers from the Guinea-Bissau School of Education. It is concluded that the KEAS is a feasible and suitable teaching strategy appropriate to the context, having the potential to contribute to learning about the environment and sustainability. Further, it addresses real problems for which students should acquire knowledge and skills in order to be able to make informed choices. Full article
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17 pages, 1307 KiB  
Article
Education for Sustainability, Peace, and Global Citizenship: An Integrative Approach
by Constantinos Yanniris
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(8), 430; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11080430 - 15 Aug 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4690
Abstract
The complex nature of contemporary challenges requires a culture of cooperation between academic disciplines. However, to what extent do educational systems prepare students to think beyond the boundaries of austerely defined and often entrenched academic fields? UNESCO has successively called for Environmental Education, [...] Read more.
The complex nature of contemporary challenges requires a culture of cooperation between academic disciplines. However, to what extent do educational systems prepare students to think beyond the boundaries of austerely defined and often entrenched academic fields? UNESCO has successively called for Environmental Education, Education for Sustainable Development, and Education for Global Citizenship to incorporate complex socio-environmental issues into mainstream education. Despite the presence of strong institutional support by governments and international organizations, the introduction of these interdisciplinary approaches into actual educational settings has been slow. With no intention to underestimate the pertinence and agency of strong political will in promoting educational change, we explore the presence of deeper, epistemological issues that may account for the generally slow progress of interdisciplinary pedagogies. To elaborate on this discussion, we focus on pragmatic solutions that can promote the integration of environmental, sustainability, and global citizenship education into the existing educational ethoi. Full article
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21 pages, 8130 KiB  
Article
Transforming Learning Spaces on a Budget: Action Research and Service-Learning for Co-Creating Sustainable Spaces
by Isabel Montiel, Asunción M. Mayoral, Jose Navarro-Pedreño and Silvia Maiques
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(8), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11080418 - 10 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2822
Abstract
Transforming learning spaces has become a priority for many schools, not only for implementing emerging methodologies but also for sanitary reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools struggle to find solutions for the lack of space in order to respect the required safety [...] Read more.
Transforming learning spaces has become a priority for many schools, not only for implementing emerging methodologies but also for sanitary reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools struggle to find solutions for the lack of space in order to respect the required safety distance, especially public schools with a very tight budget and many administrative barriers to overcome. From participatory action research, findings confirmed that expanding and refurbishing indoor and outdoor space in many public high schools is urgent. Then, an opportunity emerged to develop a new learning space in one of the high schools in touch with the research team at Miguel Hernandez University working on educational spaces since 2017. This article describes the action research (AR) carried out, its main results regarding needs and deficiencies in public high schools in our surroundings, and a subsequent Service-Learning experience promoted by the research group as a solution for upgrading and extending educational spaces and simultaneously developing students’ soft skills, empowering youth, participation, local partnerships and other sustainable development goals meeting 2030 Agenda. Full article
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18 pages, 565 KiB  
Article
Τhe Impact of Training Environmental Educators: Environmental Perceptions and Attitudes of Pre-Primary and Primary School Teachers in Greece
by Dafni Petkou, Veronika Andrea and Katerina Anthrakopoulou
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(6), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11060274 - 1 Jun 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3468
Abstract
Environmental education is an important tool for managing environmental problems, with a view to protecting the environment. Several significant factors, however, impede its implementation. Educators’ lack of knowledge and appropriate training on environmental topics results in difficulties in implementing environmental education programs. Nevertheless, [...] Read more.
Environmental education is an important tool for managing environmental problems, with a view to protecting the environment. Several significant factors, however, impede its implementation. Educators’ lack of knowledge and appropriate training on environmental topics results in difficulties in implementing environmental education programs. Nevertheless, environmental literacy is expected to lead to the manifestation of pro-environmental behavior. The aim of the present study was to examine the impacts of environmental training on pre-primary and primary school educators, and its influence on the formation of their environmental perceptions and attitudes. We investigated whether training triggers the implementation of environmental education programs, and its possible metacognitive effects on educators. Simple random sampling was used as a sampling method. A structured questionnaire was administered to 154 pre-primary and primary school teachers, and the data collection took place through the use of face-to-face interviews. The research findings indicated that educators were interested in environmental issues, and mainly used the media to obtain information about environmental issues. Gender and age were important characteristics influencing the performance and attitudes of environmental educators. It also became apparent that there are significant deficiencies in the capacity building of educators, and in the organization of environmental education in pre-primary and primary education, that negatively affect the implementation of environmental programs in schools. Full article
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15 pages, 249 KiB  
Article
How Important Is Future Teachers’ “Connectedness to Nature”? Adaptation and Validation of the Connectedness to Nature Scale
by Dunja Anđić and Lorena Šuperina
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(5), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11050250 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2930
Abstract
The teacher plays a key role in fostering sustainability and implementing Education for Sustainable Development at school. This paper presents a study aimed at adapting and validating a shorter version of the Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS) to measure student future teachers’ connectedness [...] Read more.
The teacher plays a key role in fostering sustainability and implementing Education for Sustainable Development at school. This paper presents a study aimed at adapting and validating a shorter version of the Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS) to measure student future teachers’ connectedness to nature. The scale has been translated into Croatian in an abbreviated form and applied to a specific sample of students from the Faculty of Teacher Education in Rijeka, Croatia (N = 138). One of the tasks was to examine whether there are statistically significant differences among students regarding their membership in eco-associations and previous participation in an Environmental Education/Education for Sustainable Development (EE/ESD) course. A special research objective was to determine the extent to which the current education and membership in an eco-association explain the connectedness to nature. In addition to the indicated research limitations, the results confirmed the significant measured characteristics of the scale. Education has so far proved to be a predictor of connectedness to nature. Additionally, the results showed that membership in an eco-association is a predictor of connectedness to nature. Based on the obtained results, it is possible to conclude that the connectedness to nature must be further explored, especially in the context of the initial education of future teachers, as a possible prerequisite for a successful practice of Education for Sustainable Development in schools. Full article
14 pages, 1071 KiB  
Article
Exploring Indigenous Science to Identify Contents and Contexts for Science Learning in Order to Promote Education for Sustainable Development
by Robby Zidny, S Solfarina, Ratna Sari Siti Aisyah and Ingo Eilks
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(3), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11030114 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 4622
Abstract
Indigenous science is comprised of the science-related knowledge and associated practices of indigenous cultures. Indigenous science provides rich contexts that can contribute to understanding the relationship of sociocultural life and environmental ethics in certain communities. It can also lead to better reflection upon [...] Read more.
Indigenous science is comprised of the science-related knowledge and associated practices of indigenous cultures. Indigenous science provides rich contexts that can contribute to understanding the relationship of sociocultural life and environmental ethics in certain communities. It can also lead to better reflection upon Western modern views of science. Based on a qualitative analysis of indigenous science in the Baduy community (Indonesia), we describe how indigenous science can provide relevant contexts for students to learn scientific concepts, as well as help them to recognise the value of promoting sustainability. We present potential topics encompassing the sociocultural context of Baduy science that can be associated with sustainability issues. Topics were identified from six themes (agriculture, medicine, natural dyes, household chemicals, renewable energy, and astronomy). Potential implications of these topics to science learning are also presented. We view contextualization of science teaching and learning by indigenous science as a promising source to enhance students’ perception of the relevance of science learning. It can also promote education for sustainable development. Full article
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5 pages, 177 KiB  
Perspective
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through Company Staff Vocational Training—The Case of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) INEBB Project
by Cosmas Kombat Lambini, Angelina Goeschl, Max Wäsch and Martin Wittau
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11040179 - 11 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3398
Abstract
Education for sustainable development (ESD) plays a significant role in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and simultaneously tackling the current global ecological challenges. Integration of ESD in Vocational Education and Training (VET) offers opportunities for private sector actors to contribute to [...] Read more.
Education for sustainable development (ESD) plays a significant role in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and simultaneously tackling the current global ecological challenges. Integration of ESD in Vocational Education and Training (VET) offers opportunities for private sector actors to contribute to reaching these global goals. The dual structure of business-integrated training in Germany further exemplifies a business case and the numerous opportunities available to private companies for engaging with the SDG framework. This briefing paper highlighted available evidence from the ESD literature on VET skills development in advancing the SDGs. Outcomes from best practices were based on the tried-and-tested länder—federal states—piloted vocational training of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) INEBB1 project (INEBB), demonstrating the conditions necessary for vocational education training in sustainability and plausible transfer mechanism within companies. These conditions included (1) the application of deductive concepts, (2) the establishment of blended-learning platforms (place-based and digital), and (3) the adaptation of the criteria and contents from the German Sustainability Codex (DNK) in curriculums designed for the training. This innovative vocational course and certification as specialist training for sustainable development was a model case in bringing the SDGs closer to German companies’ vocational education. INEBB2 sought to upscale applicable and task-based instructions from the experimented model project INEBB1 within different companies through regional, lateral, and vertical transfer strands. The INEBB project model in the review suggested there was a need for further empirical work and policy discourse on educational transfer research in the framework of VET for sustainable development. The INEBB project model integrated the new standard occupational profile items of the environmental protection and the sustainability and digitalised world of work across occupational competencies in the German dual system of vocational education and training that will come into force in August 2021 for all 326 dual training professions. Full article
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