Advancing education for sustainable development in the curriculum in Scotland’s colleges: an analysis

Crawford, Elaine Rosemary (2017) Advancing education for sustainable development in the curriculum in Scotland’s colleges: an analysis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Education is seen to have a central role in the transition towards a sustainable future. Education for sustainable development (ESD) has been heralded by the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development as a tool for achieving global sustainability. The Scottish Government also advocates ESD as the means to providing society with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to live more sustainable lives. Whilst considerable progress has been made in Scotland’s schools, particularly primary schools, and to a lesser degree in university education, there has been limited evidence of the same success in Scotland’s colleges. There has been limited widespread investigation or published work on the advances of ESD in the Scottish college curriculum.

This research aimed to explore if an ESD Practitioner could enhance the ESD landscape in Scotland’s colleges by producing learning and teaching materials for curriculum development that could be used by both staff and students. The research also planned to investigate the ESD backdrop in Scotland’s colleges, against which the intervention of curriculum development was set. To explore this, a survey was issued to all Scottish College Principals to determine their opinions of ESD at a senior management level. The survey also asked about the use of the learning and teaching materials within their college. Three colleges were then utilised as case studies to evaluate the use of the learning and teaching materials, within the curriculum, with staff and students.

During the research period, the Scottish college sector underwent a major restructuring of college mergers, making this the most volatile period in Scottish college history. These changes impacted upon the research, frequently restricting the research process. Nonetheless, the research established that ESD development in Scotland’s colleges still requires significant work. Moreover, whilst the learning and teaching materials were found to have a modest impact upon the sustainability ethos of those who engaged with them, (particularly upon the students), it was established that effective ESD requires a multi-faceted approach to be successful. Curriculum development on its own will not achieve the step-change that is required for a future thinking society faced with the environmental challenges that are the result of a growing consumerist population, anthropogenic climate change and increasing social injustice. To meet these challenges in Scotland’s colleges, curriculum development must be linked to effective policy, management and drive, as well as campus management, and the recognition of all interested parties and stakeholders as co-constructors of ESD development. Not only is senior management support vital, there also needs to be a recognised sustainability staff member or group, or an ESD Practitioner, helping to drive the ESD agenda forward. Only then will Scotland’s colleges be effective in producing the sustainability focused society that is required.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Education for sustainable development, further education, Scotland's colleges, sustainability education, learning for sustainability, Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Social & Environmental Sustainability
Precurrent Departments > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Supervisor's Name: Wood, Dr. Bethan and Davis, Professor Robert
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Mrs Elaine Rosemary Crawford
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8138
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 May 2017 14:47
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2023 13:02

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