Posts from ACTS: Lesley Stone – a wishlist for EfS

Posted on October 16, 2008



Dr Lesley Stone spoke about a wishlist for tertiary education for sustainability at the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability conference in Christchurch last week. 

Lesley is the Envrionmental Coordinator at the University of Auckland.   In her presentation she explored the findings of her 2006 paper “Progress and pitfalls in the provision of tertiary education for sustainable development inNew Zealand”, written for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (pdf). 


Lesley and  Maria-José aimed to identify characteristics of tertiary education for sustainability.  They hoped that this would “contribute towards enhancing the tertiary education sector’s ability to deliver sustainability-ready graduates”. 

They did this by developing a summary of expectations – a wishlist for Education for Sustainability.   They used this a framework for considering EfS programmes.   The work is limited by a time related decision to only consider programmes that incorporate sustainable development, sustainability environmental or resource management, or similar terms in their titles.  Although this work predates the Otago Polytechnic “‘every graduate” approach, it wouldn’t have been considered, which is a shame. 

Six broad areas of interest emerged: underlying values; the nature of educational programmes; the nature of the knowledge and understanding conveyed; target audiences; institutional requirements; and educational research and development. Each has its own set of principles, areas of focus and specific areas of interest.


Q:  interdisciplinarity.  Power of deans, decreased with managerialisation. Discipline based identity.   Barrier at lecturer level?

A:    Death by committee.  This can be highly intellectually contested ground.    So making project based, inviting academics.  Communities of people.

Q: What is the impact of internal divisions: academic and operations?

A:  Perception in disciplines that they “own” concept, yet much to be learnt from operations.

Q:  Does it have to be interdisciplinary?

A:   Lots in disciplines (except business perhaps),  Still need to provide education about bigger picture (outside discipline).

Q:  top-down, bottom up?  Empower to step up to your table

A:   Academics fiercely defensive of autonomy.