There is no shortage of evidence to suggest that the way we organise and run our society has created a range of interconnected social and environmental issues – from biodiversity loss to gross inequality to climate change.
Achieving a socially and environmentally sustainable form of development has implications for what is taught and for the way that education is conducted. This highlights the need for educators who have the capabilities and motivation to offer their learners an education for sustainable development (ESD). As educators, if we are not working consciously towards a socially and environmentally sustainable world, then we are probably working against it.
But what kind of educator does it take to help learners address these global challenges and prepare them for their impacts?
This is the question behind A Rounder Sense of Purpose (RSP). This Erasmus + funded project brought together experienced and committed institutions from across Europe to develop a practical framework of competences for educators who wish to educate for a fair and sustainable world.
In an attempt to define what an educator for sustainable development might look like, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) developed a framework of educator competences for ESD. That was back in 2011 but the framework was never tested with teachers or students and there were no measurable learning outcomes that could underpin a qualification in ESD.
A Rounder Sense of Purpose set out to plug this gap by:
- Developing a practical framework of competences for use in any educational context so that in-service and pre-service educators can develop and demonstrate their competence in ESD
- Developing tools and guidelines to help teacher educators implement the framework
This work involved ‘distilling’ the UNECE competences and running a number of educator training programmes to test the resulting framework. Our various training programmes worked at undergraduate and postgraduate level and involved over 400 people: students, teachers, principals and others.
A set of example activities for developing the 12 competences has been produced and is presented on this website.
An additional set of example activities has been produced linking the RSP competences with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These illustrate how an educator can develop their skills and knowledge in education for sustainable development while addressing the SDGs at the same time.