Starting with the staff: how swapshops can develop ESD and empower practitioners

Roberts, Carolyn and Roberts, Jane (2008). Starting with the staff: how swapshops can develop ESD and empower practitioners. Environmental Education Research, 14(4) pp. 423–434.




In the early months of 2007 a staff development exercise with multiple purposes and outputs was undertaken at the University of Gloucestershire. It aimed to identify innovative examples of education for sustainable development (ESD) in the University's curriculum, to provide a forum for ESD practitioners to exchange and discuss their approaches and experiences and to disseminate good practice through the publication of an edited volume of exemplar case studies. It also provided opportunity to celebrate almost two decades of activity in this realm and perhaps to inspire others to include experiments in ESD in their own tuition. An outline evaluation of the two most significant outputs is presented here. The case studies are matched against a proposed checklist of sustainability skills. The impact of the exercise in terms of staff development is also analysed using data from a questionnaire survey. It is concluded that although the case studies do exemplify the full range of sustainability skills, care in curriculum design is needed to embed ESD systematically within the curriculum. The staff development exercise was broadly successful, with participants reporting changes in their conceptual understanding of sustainable development as well as changes in their practice.

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