A. Djordjevic and D.R.E. Cotton, “Communicating the sustainability message in higher education institutions,” International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 12 (2011): 381-394. Available from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1953898&show=abstract
This paper from the most recent edition of the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, provides a poignant illustration of the challenges faced by those promoting sustainability across their university.
Even in an institution known for its commitment to sustainability where (presumably) senior management buys into the vision, barriers remain:
- Not seen as relevant to individual/ subject area
- About recycling/ estates/ printing on both sides of the paper
- Senior management enthusiasm/ support can be interpreted as ‘an agenda’ (‘agenda’ never seems to be viewed positively when used of senior management)
- Different views about what 'sustainability'/ sustainable development means
- Lack of dialogue/ too much communication is electronic
- Attempted ownership by one discipline/ department
The authors’ recommendations can be found by reading the full paper (!)
“We are learning slowly as we teach over the years” is the last thing I wrote in my notebook at the “Teaching the Green Humanities” workshop on Wednesday. I can’t remember exactly who said it or even whether I wrote it down exactly as it was expressed, but it was said during the final panel with the workshop speakers. The second last thing I wrote down was “Slowness as virtue”. Six years after taking on the Education for Sustainable Development brief for LLAS I am still learning and still learning very slowly.
I’m not able to do justice to the ground which was covered during the event, but a few things will stick in my mind. Arran Stibbe’s reminder (or was it a revelation) that “more sustainable” planet is still unsustainable will stick with me. I need to ponder Greg Garrard’s suggestion that the philosophy of ecology might be a good potential bridge between humanities and the sciences—sometimes it really does “just depend” and the ‘unlaw like’ nature of philosophy may allow this possibility (I hope I'm not mis-representing Greg here in any way). Jessica Frye’s discussion of engaging EFL students (mainly scientists and engineers in her case) through reading eco-poetry demonstrates the potential to teach about environmental issues in a context where many would not think it possible.
Still learning, very slowly.