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The implementation of education for sustainable development in Sweden: Investigating the sustainability consciousness among upper secondary students
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences. (SMEER)
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Engineering and Chemical Sciences. (SMEER)
2014 (English)In: Research in Science & Technological Education, ISSN 0263-5143, Vol. 32, no 3, 318-339 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Sustainable development (SD) is a complex idea, based on environmental, economic and social dimensions. In line with SD, education for sustainable development (ESD) is an approach to teaching that combines cognitive and affective domains and aims to build empowerment abilities.

Purpose: The purpose of this article is to investigate effects of the implementation of ESD in Sweden, in terms of developing students’ sustainability consciousness (SC). Two groups of students were included: one was from schools with a profile of ESD and the other one was from comparable schools without explicit ESD-profile.

Sample: A total of 638 students from upper secondary schools (grade 12) in science-related or social science-related programs participated in the study.

Design and methods: A procedure was created for the selection of schools considered to be the most active in using an ESD approach as well as comparable schools with no explicit ESD approach. During spring 2013, the students responded to a questionnaire based on sustainability knowingness, attitudes and behaviors within the environmental, economic and social dimensions of SD that together constitute the concept of SC. Data were analyzed using SPSS software.

Results: The results indicate that there are significant differences in SC between students from schools that teach with an ESD approach compared to students from regular schools. Furthermore, a significant difference between the two groups of students was found in the underlying economic dimension of SC. No significant differences were found in the environmental and social dimensions of SC.

Conclusions: Although the results show that ESD-profiled schools have effect on students' SC, the effects are relatively small. Therefore, the effects and nature of the implementation of ESD are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2014. Vol. 32, no 3, 318-339 p.
Keyword [en]
Education for sustainable development, sustainability consciousness, holistic, upper secondary, students
National Category
Natural Sciences Didactics
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34536DOI: 10.1080/02635143.2014.944493ISI: 000344856200006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-34536DiVA: diva2:761245
Funder
Swedish Research Council, B0589701
Available from: 2014-11-06 Created: 2014-11-03 Last updated: 2014-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Student 'sustainability consciousness' and decision making on sustainability dilemmas: Investigating effects of implementing education for sustainable development in Swedish upper secondary schools
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Student 'sustainability consciousness' and decision making on sustainability dilemmas: Investigating effects of implementing education for sustainable development in Swedish upper secondary schools
2014 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The central role of education for sustainable development (SD) has been emphasized since the 1990s. SD involves the three areas of environment, economy and society, with a focus on the relationships between environmental protection and human development. Education for sustainable development (ESD) takes a holistic view on the environmental, economic and social dimensions of SD and aims to empower students to engage in the democratic development of society in a more sustainable direction. Policy-level and research community discussions have addressed the ways in which ESD has been implemented internationally. This study focuses on upper secondary students, and investigates their views on sustainability and the ways they make decisions related to SD. The study aims to address the interdisciplinary and multidimensional content embraced in the concept of SD and the development of competences often associated with ESD. A survey investigating students’ (n=638) sustainability consciousness (SC) and their decision-making in a number of SD related contexts was conducted in 15 Swedish upper secondary schools. The results show that students attending schools with an ESD profile are characterized by stronger SC than students attending regular schools; however the difference is small and mostly related to the economic dimension of SD. Furthermore, students who prioritize environmental decisions in SD dilemmas show stronger SC than students giving priority to economic reasons. When environmental, economic and social dimensions are introduced separately, social aspects are given the highest priority by the students. In contrast, environmental aspects are up-graded when the dimensions are introduced in an integrated manner. However, different dimensions are prioritized in different contexts. The study provides empirical support for using multiple contexts and including both harmonious and conflict-based perspectives on SD in education. It also contributes knowledge to the discussion about the implementation of ESD in Sweden in terms of outcomes among students.

Abstract [en]

This study addresses the interdisciplinary and multidimensional content embraced in the concept of sustainable development (SD) and the development of competences often associated with education for sustainable development (ESD). A survey was conducted among 638 students from 15 upper secondary schools, investigating their sustainability consciousness (SC) and their decision-making in relation to a number of sustainability dilemmas. The results showed that students attending schools with an ESD profile were characterized by stronger SC than students attending regular schools; however the difference between the groups was small and mostly related to the economic dimension of SD. Students who prioritized environmental decisions in SD dilemmas showed stronger SC than students who prioritized economic reasons. The SD dimensions were given varying importance depending on the context and whether a harmony-based or a conflict-based perspective on environmental, economic and social dimensions was used. The study provides support for using multiple perspectives and including both harmonious- and conflict-based perspectives on SD in education. It also contributes knowledge of the implementation of ESD in Sweden in terms of the student sustainability consciousness in the two groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2014. 66 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2014:59
Series
, Linköping Studies in Science and Technology Education, ISSN 1652-5051 ; 78
Keyword
Sustainable development, education for sustainable development, dimensions of sustainable development, upper secondary students, conceptions, sustainability consciousness, decision making
National Category
Didactics Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34196 (URN)978-91-7063-599-1 (ISBN)
Presentation
2014-11-28, 9C203, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council, B0589701
Available from: 2014-11-07 Created: 2014-10-09 Last updated: 2014-11-07Bibliographically approved

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Berglund, TeresaGericke, NiklasChang-Rundgren, Shu-Nu
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