Academic staff engagement in education for sustainable development
Área/s de conocimientoCiencias de la Educación
The research presented in this paper emerged from the need to identify the factors influencing academic staff members when engaging in Education for Sustainable Development in real practice. The aims of this study were to explore: (i) the factors influencing academic staff engagement in Education for Sustainable Development; and (ii) the views and vision of academic staff in relation to Education for Sustainable Development at the University of Southampton. This research was conceived as an exploratory action research study and consisted of two differentiated research stages. In Stage I fourteen academic staff members from different disciplines were interviewed as a reconnaissance phase of a typical action research cycle. In Stage II a facilitator role for curriculum development was adopted by one of the authors as part of her doctoral studies. An interdisciplinary group of five academic staff members from different subject areas was created with the aim to support the group's critical reflection and action. This research was undertaken between October 2011 and May 2013. This study suggests that although academics might have a personal interest and motivation to engage in Education for Sustainable Development, factors such as the lack of time and financial resources, lack of deep understanding of sustainability, current curriculum structures and ways of delivery, academic pressures, external factors, lack of organisational support and existing organisational conditions block their engagement in Education for Sustainable Development. Organisational support and leadership, quality assurance processes, professional development and creating reward structures are necessary strategies towards academic staff engagement in this agenda. This study provides evidence on different views and visions of academics in relation to Education for Sustainable Development and a number of contradictions between its principles and the role of Higher Education.