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2023 | Book

Understanding Sustainability with Pedagogical Practice

A Contribution from Geography Education

Editors: Osvaldo Muñiz Solari, Gabriele Schrüfer

Publisher: Springer Nature Singapore

Book Series : Advances in Geographical and Environmental Sciences


About this book

This book shares with an international audience of teachers, scholars, and policymakers the experience of pedagogical practices to facilitate sustainability in the world. Sustainability is seen here as a journey toward the end state of sustainable development. Therefore, the authors contribute different roads to engage teachers and students with pedagogical discourse. Overall, the book demonstrates the value of powerful knowledge through action-oriented learning based on a bottom-up process. Consequently, pedagogical practices are understood as the instructional approaches based on a social constructivist model in which active learning is performed with student-to-student engagement.

Secondary teachers in social sciences and university professors in geography find the study to be a valuable source of stimulation for incorporating new ideas and resolving common problems in their learning and teaching environments. Education policymakers around the world also benefit from the only publication that presents international perspectives on geographical knowledge related to sustainability.

The contributing authors are experienced scientists in the field of geography education who are giving special attention to pedagogical practices that promote new directions toward sustainable thinking.

This book is the first outcome of an international collaboration officially established in 2023 between the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Texas State University and the Department of Geography at the University of Bayreuth.

Table of Contents


Pedagogic Discourse toward Sustainability

Chapter 1. Recontextualizing Sustainability: Regulative and Instructional Discourses
Sustainability is an important concept in geography that can be used to analyze a great variety of topics related to nature, society, economy, and their interconnections and interdependence. The objective of this chapter is to analyze how the actors of the pedagogic environment, organized in the regulative and instructional discourses, function to recontextualize knowledge. Consequently, the pedagogic discourse focused on the concept of sustainability is examined in order to offer a general guidance about the conditions in which the concept could be recontextualized.
Osvaldo Muñiz Solari
Chapter 2. Learning Culture, Competencies and Consequences for Sustainability Education
Global challenges such as increasing CO2 emissions, social injustices or rising sea levels are characterized by multiple complexities. Not only are they closely interrelated, but corresponding actions regarding these challenges also have different consequences depending on the perspective. Dealing responsibly with these complexities requires specific competencies. This paper first elaborates the characteristics of these global challenges before analyzing which competencies are necessary for sustainable decisions and actions. Subsequently, some aspects are outlined that support the promotion of these competencies especially in the teaching context.
Gabriele Schrüfer

Uncertainty and Transformative Education for Sustainable Development

Chapter 3. Dealing with Uncertainty in a Transformative Education for Sustainability
Transformative education for sustainability aims to engage students with environmental issues and concerns in a way that enables them to actively shape the future in terms of a social-ecological transformation. But which solutions and which individual and political actions are appropriate and “sustainable” in areas such as mobility, nutrition, energy supply, urban planning, etc.? In this regard, factual and ethical controversies as well as multifaceted uncertainties exist in science, politics, and society. In the sense of an emancipatory education the one “right” way of individual, collective, and political action can therefore rarely be taught. This educational challenge leads to a different question: How can students be empowered to deal with these uncertainties and to contribute to shaping an ecologically and socially just future? This article aims to answer this question with reference to pedagogical and didactical theory and thus identify guidelines to foster transformative learning in educational contexts.
Fabian Pettig, Ulrike Ohl
Chapter 4. Education for Sustainable Development in a Culture of Digitality
Education for Sustainable Development is not a conservative pedagogical position to ensure to keep the world as it is—it is about designing a fair, livable, and ecologically diverse future in an ever-changing world. Digital technologies and their ongoing development are an eminent aspect of a constantly changing world. This leads to a deep change of everyday practices, in other words, to a culture of digitality that proposes challenges and chances to sustainability at the same time. Concerning an Education for Sustainable Development, a whole complexity unfolds: Firstly, digital technology forms new topics in (geography) education: Material resources, energy consumption, and e-waste are a threat to sustainability, while intelligent environments and mobility can save energy and resources. Secondly, digital technologies change the relation between humans and environment, which deeply influences processes of learning and understanding the world: The enrichment of everyday spaces with augmented information, and the new forms of sharing meanings and spatial constructions change the perception of environments profoundly, and thus have great influences on geographical learning. Changing in communication processes requires new forms of communicating geographically that might lead to new ways of participation in shaping a sustainable future. Consequently, this paper systematizes insights into the linkages between Education for Sustainable Development, geography education, and digitalization, supported by practical examples.
Inga Gryl
Chapter 5. School Geography as Radical Global Citizenship Education
This chapter introduces Laclau and Mouffe’s theory of radical democracy and related ideas about discourse. It adopts Riedy’s analysis of hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses of sustainability and follows him in suggesting that discourse coalitions are necessary to defeat neoliberal hegemony. Agreements across counter-hegemonic discourses suggest the need for radical global citizenship education that accommodates agonistic pedagogy allowing students and teachers to articulate sustainability within and across discourses. The Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective suggests how such education can address post-developmentalism with pedagogy designed to enable students to know, be, relate and desire differently and so realize sustainability.
John Huckle
Chapter 6. Sustainable Contradictions? The Prospects for an Eco-Socialist School Geography
School geography tends to be conservative, teaching models of social and environmental relations that support the status quo. However, since the early 1980s, John Huckle has been a principled critic of dominant approaches to school geography, arguing for an eco-socialist perspective that can help students and teachers confront the ecological crisis. This chapter engages with this approach, arguing that the key task for any eco-socialist school geography is to provide students with an analysis of the role that capitalism plays in the social production of nature.
John Morgan

Practicing Sustainability in a Pedagogical Context

Chapter 7. Bringing Sustainability into the Classroom
Sustainability is a transdisciplinary field in education that has shown that it requires more than just the transfer of knowledge to students. It seeks to make profound changes to learners’ skills, values, attitudes, and dispositions in ways that will ultimately lead to environmental, social, and economic transformation. Efforts to transform society have to focus on educators in building their understanding of sustainability and their ability to transform curriculum and wider learning opportunities. Consequently, this requires the introduction of sustainability education into education programs as education plays an essential role in promoting a sustainable attitude of citizens. This therefore implies that educational institutions must become themselves examples of sustainable communities. Against this background, this chapter discusses the need for integrating sustainability education into the classrooms to enable learning toward a more sustainable future.
Billiah N. Gisore
Chapter 8. Subject Matter Knowledge and Sustainability—Implications for Classroom Instruction
There is an argument that a high school geography teacher should have a university degree in geography. By the same logic, must all sustainability teachers have a degree in Sustainability or a related discipline? Perhaps this argument assumes that subject matter knowledge and disciplinary ways of thinking have a direct impact on a teacher's classroom instruction and assessment about sustainability. This chapter examines the nexus between subject matter knowledge and pedagogical practices through the lens of (Shulman, Educ Res 15:4–14, 1986) idea of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Through a meta-analysis of the literature in selected environmental and geographical education journals, the discussion will consider how subject matter knowledge affects teachers’ choices and subsequently their classroom practices using the (Lambert and Morgan. EBOOK: Teaching Geography 11–18: A Conceptual Approach. McGraw-Hill Education, UK, 2010) curriculum-making model. Sustainability education should not only focus on raising awareness or instilling knowledge but also on the development of skills and behavioral changes that contribute to sustainable development. As a result, classroom instruction, or how it is taught, and assessment become important factors to consider in ensuring that knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavioral changes that promote sustainability are learned.
Chew-Hung Chang, Phoebe Ow
Chapter 9. Teaching with Geographical Situations to Practice Sustainability
This chapter aims to understand the teaching and learning processes of the concept of sustainable development based on geographical situations. By working with comparative cases of geographical situations in which maps or satellite images are used to frame the study areas, it is possible to apply geographical principles. Citizen awareness about sustainable development of some geographical spaces (i.e., places, regions, territories) can be enhanced through the practice of geographical situations. Consequently, the concept of sustainability as a process could be grasped by the students when they analyze geographical situations through problem-solving. Teaching content by investigating events and their connections with other events and processes could lead to awareness about physical as well as social issues that impact the sustainable condition of a place or region.
Sonia Maria Vanzella Castellar
Chapter 10. Geography Education for Sustainable Development Through Problem-Based Learning
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for 2030 has identified the transformation of learning environments to address sustainability challenges. Pedagogy and learning environments are transforming and introducing interactive and learner-centered pedagogy that enable students to live what they learn and learn what they live. In South Africa, the national curriculum aims to produce students who can work together, identify, and solve problems, and use critical and creative thinking to make decisions. South Africa’s Geography curriculum aims to develop a commitment among students toward sustainable development, while nurturing values and attitudes of sustainability. In the South African school context teachers are challenged to implement active teaching–learning strategies in the teaching of sustainability. The purpose of this chapter is to present how ESD and problem-based learning, an action-orientated and learner-centered teaching and learning strategy, in Geography education can contribute to transformational social learning for sustainability by focusing on complex interdisciplinary real-world problems.
Luiza Olim de Sousa, Aubrey Golightly
Chapter 11. Factors Affecting Geography Pre-service Teachers’ Perception About Education for Sustainable Development
Considering that teachers’ knowledge, perceptions, dispositions, and attitudes can affect their teaching and pedagogical practice, this chapter investigates the factors forming pre-service teachers’ perception on ESD through a case study of geography pre-service teachers in Vietnam. We conducted in-depth interviews with 25 pre-service teachers to investigate factors forming their ESD perception. The results show that there are two main factor groups forming geography pre-service teachers’ ESD perceptions: external and internal factors. The results have meaningful implication for teacher education to improve teachers’ awareness and understanding about ESD.
Thao Phuong Nguyen, Thach Quang Trinh, Tuan Thai Hoang, May Thi Xuan Do, Thang Huu Nguyen, Anh Ngoc Nguyen, Yen Thi Hai Ngo
Chapter 12. Geographical Knowledge and (Education for) Sustainable Development in Geography Curricula
The objectives of this chapter are twofold. On the one hand, it aims to offer insight into how the Geography curricula of various countries position sustainable development within their geographical knowledge. On the other hand, its ambition is to reflect on the educational contribution of Geography as a school subject to the cross-curricular objective of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Romania, Mexico, and Germany serve as case studies to showcase ways of linking geographical knowledge to (E)SD. Each case study explores the particularities of the curricular architecture, looks into SD, ESD, and stakeholder agency. The closing section offers a broader context for already existing recommendations for curriculum designers and suggests additional steps on tying SD to geographical knowledge.
Péter Bagoly-Simó
Chapter 13. Preparing Pre-service Teachers for Practicing Sustainable Geographies Through Online Technology Integration
The geographic curriculum in Costa Rica’s secondary education follows a sustainability approach aligned to the United Nations sustainable development goals. Students aim to develop a geographic understanding of economic, environmental, and social perspectives of current sustainability challenges at different scales. This vision requires a change on how pre-service teachers must be trained at universities, where sustainability should be addressed by the online integration of technology, pedagogy, and geography when working with students in high schools. On this regard, the present chapter shows the results of a six-week workshop with a group of 28 pre-service teachers, who engaged in the development of a story map, an online geospatial technology for teaching students about food geography and sustainability issues. The results provide opportunities for reflecting on how to prepare future educators for teaching these topics in high schools.
Alejandro Cascante Campos
Chapter 14. Practicing Students SDG Strategies Through Fieldwork—Exploring Student Perspectives on Green Urban Planning Models in a Nature Park
A growing number of students demand knowledge on more sustainable practices and climate change actions from their education. This chapter argues that although Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be hard to implement and put into practice, geographical fieldwork methods are well suited to the study of planning implementation efforts. The chapter is based on a case study of students’ perceptions of a former wetland in a Danish nature park. The study finds environmental blindness among students’ SDG strategies, not least when it comes to understanding the multi-scalar character of the SDGs and their assessment of the (dis)proportionality between different planning proposals, landowners’ and citizens’ natural-cultural representation of the area, and potential effects for more sustainable land transformation.
Thomas Skou Grindsted

Final Remarks

Chapter 15. Opportunities and Challenges in Geography Education to Practice Sustainability Education
This chapter delivers important remarks extracted from the authors’ contributions to this book. These are important observations presented by each author which deserve attention as propositions to guide interested participants (e.g., researchers, educational stakeholders) in geography and geography education when they intend to study, analyze, and practice sustainability for Sustainable Development (SD). The intention is not to repeat what each author has presented but summarizing the main ideas for easy retention. The observation is presented in this final chapter as opportunities and challenges.
Osvaldo Muñiz Solari, Gabriele Schrüfer
Understanding Sustainability with Pedagogical Practice
Osvaldo Muñiz Solari
Gabriele Schrüfer
Copyright Year
Springer Nature Singapore
Electronic ISBN
Print ISBN