Exploring the learning landscapes of higher education for sustainable development
This research project considers the role of universities within the societal transition towards sustainability by studying student perceptions and practices of sustainable place-shaping and their learning experiences within the broad area of sustainability. The research project will focus on learning for sustainability, where literature from the field of higher education for sustainable development (HESD) will be reviewed. Education is here referred to in a broad sense, taking into account formal, informal and non-formal learning. It is assumed here, that it is not a specific type of knowledge or a specific set of skills that has the potential to tackle complex challenges, rather a certain way of thinking and perceiving oneself in the world. In addition to an ability to act despite the complexity and uncertainty of challenges faced. It has been argued that experiential education can contribute to the development of key competencies for sustainability. Within this research project the transformative potential of experiential education will be explored by studying the learning experiences of those involved in initiatives focusing on sustainable development. This study takes a holistic approach and aims to understand the learning landscapes i.e. the myriad of aspects influencing the way in which university students acquire sustainability competencies and literacy. The extent to which expressions of experiential education and experiential learning are present within this landscape will also be considered. The objective is to increase understanding of, and new ideas for, how to foster sustainability literacy in the higher education context.
Keywords: higher education for sustainable development (HESD), learning for sustainability, education for sustainability, experiential learning, learning landscapes, sustainable place-shaping