89 reasons not to teach sustainability

Posted on October 13, 2007


As you know, we’re on track to integrate sustainability across the curriculum by 2009. We’re trying to identify all the barriers to achieving that (so that we can work to reduce these hurdles). What other reasons have we missed?

1 Sustainability isn’t a real problem
2 Sustainability not a concern of my discipline
3 sustainability not a concern of my particular sub-discipline
4 I have a position on teaching religions in classes
5 The curriculum is too full already (variant, what do want me to drop to make room for this?)
6 We’ve tried it before, no impact on graduates
7 We’re already doing all that stuff
8 I don’t have the expertise to teach sustainability
9 Students don’t ask for it
10 Students complain when we stray off topic
11 Employers don’t want it
12 There are no jobs in <discipline> + sustainability
13 Sustainability is just a fad
14 I leave that sustainability stuff to x
15 We’re training for a national qualification so can’t change
16 We assume students get this at school
17 My classroom is value neutral
18 I haven’t got time
19 I don’t have any teaching resources for sustainability
20 There is no time allocated on my workload to do this
21 I don’t know how to integrate into assessments etc
22 Sustainability is not prescribed on the curriculum
23 We’re externally moderated – this wouldn’t get past them
24 My material is fine as it is thank you
25 Sustainability doesn’t stand up to the forms of critical enquiry we teach
26 We do sustainability, we define it as <pick your own very narrow definition>
27 I have no idea what a sustainable practitioner in my discipline would do
28 We’re already doing it – we recycle all our paper, and Bob walks to work
29 Sustainability is not in our graduate profile
30 Sustainability does not fit with our pedagogical paradigm
31 It would only be a token effort – not worth bothering with
32 Sustainability is very important to us – the sustainability of our student intake
33 We’ve done an analysis that shows that sustainability is a part of our programme
34 Sustainability is too big a problem, what difference could I make?
35 I won’t be told what to include in my course – what happened to academic freedom?
36 We’ll do that when our department is economically sustainable
37 The department is under review, will do after that
38 The curriculum is being rewritten, will look at this after that
39 This material is readily available in the media, doesn’t need to be part of a formal course
40 My course is entirely theory, no room for practical application
41 My course is theory, no room for theoretical concepts such as sustainability
42 My students struggle with core content, something else such as sustainability would confuse them
43 You need to be passionate about this to teach it – I just don’t have that passion
44 This isn’t something that you can teach – you either are or you aren’t
45 We don’t need to teach it, we teach x, that readily transfers to sustainability
46 Sustainability has no links to my research
47 I couldn’t teach this with a straight face, my students know I drive a Hummer
48 This shouldn’t be integrated, it should be a standalone course
49 Sustainability is not something that individuals have any control over
50 This is like truth and justice, its always there in the background, it doesn’t need to be included
51 I’d have to get this past the academic board, they’re a bunch of old fuddy duddies, it’s not worth the effort
52 Sustainable development is an oxymoron
53 Our discipline is pure, this is grey water that pollutes it
54 Unless we transform entirely it’s not worth the effort
55 We have a directive from the VC not to include this in our teaching
56 If we do it properly we’d need to extend the programme by three years
57 The term sustainability has been hijacked and debased to the extent that we should avoid this altogether
58 This is common sense, we don’t need to teach it.
59 Sustainability is a subset of ethics, are you telling me my teaching is unethical?
60 People have been teaching this subject since 1450, I don’t see any of them including sustainability
61 Our industry is inherently unsustainable, this would be rowing upstream against the torrent
62 If I do this, do I have to integrate health and safety; literacy; multiculturalism (etc) as well
63 I teach largely from experience, I simply don’t have the industry examples from this areas
64 Even we manage to change the graduates, our industry is so far from this, it would be ignored in the workplace and all our good efforts would be wasted
65 A little knowledge is a bad thing, we’re better off not going near this topic
66 This is just a ploy from marketing, it has no academic credibility
67 We’re not in a position to describe the expected “sustainable behaviour” of our practitioners
68 We do this already, Bob covers it in Professional Behaviour in first year, I think
69 Sustainability is one of those cross disciplinary efforts not recognised by our funding model
70 If we all do it, it will water down the impact
71 Students could do this if they wanted as a special topic, no one has come with a proposal to do it though
72 It is important that this has a critical mass, it’s not worth doing while I’m the only one sticking my neck out
73 This is a bottomless pit – once you go down that path you can never do enough so I’m not letting that can of worms out of the bag
74 Teaching as a whole is not valued by my institution, I’m certainly not going to put effort into a small branch of it
75 Sustainability is not valued by my institutional hierarchy
76 If we do that we’ll be a laughing stock – like teaching a course on “surfing and literature”
77 This would be so thin it would be watered down to the extent that it would be pointless
78 We can’t do that until we start composting in the kitchen/buying a new fleet of energy efficient vehicles
79 My industry has a plan to be carbon neutral in ten years, we’ve got plenty of time
80 There is no clear guidance on whether to make this overt/covert
81 We can’t require value change
82 My students don’t need this distraction
83 I don’t believe in the hidden curriculum
84 Sustainability is not in our textbook
85 Sustainability is too hard to pitch, is it academic or entertainment?
86 The class comes in with such different angles on this, I spend half my time trying to get them on the same page
87 We have no idea whether students know this or not – we’d be teaching blind
88 How is this different from the treehugging we did in the seventies?
89 It’s not in the exam