Teaching for Sustainable Development in Higher Education Institutions: University of Jordan as a Case Study

Article excerpt

In Jordan, a rapid movement of educational reform is taking place nowadays. Curricula development, teacher education, using information and communication technology (ICT), improving teaching and learning strategies and integrating different subjects are among the main objectives of this reform. One of the main challenges in Jordan in order to cope with global and international changes is how to integrate different sustainability ideas and principles within different educational activities. This is because more than 35% of Jordanian population is students and they have direct effect in any change. This article aims at answering the following four questions:

* What does Education for sustainable development mean for university staff?

* Do university staffs consider sustainability issues in their teaching activities?

* According to the staff's point of view, what are the main obstacles facing teaching for sustainability?

* What are the main suggestions towards sustainable development university curricula?

Open interviews were done to collect data for this study. Results showed that the Education for sustainable development concept was not clear among most of the staffs interviewed. Most of the staffs did not consider different sustainability issues in their teaching unless these issues came by the way. Finally, shortage of training towards gaining skills in teaching for sustainability was the main obstacle. Directing new staffs training programs towards sustainability was the main suggestion for this study.

Introduction

The task before us is difficult, yet necessary; no other societal institution can play this role. Education is the force that will enlighten, enable and empower our choices.

Do you know that scientists expect an event of a big environmental tragedy that could be more dangerous than the nuclear bomb? It is because of the dramatic change of the environment on the earth. Different types of pollution, green-house effect and desertification are the main reasons for this expected tragedy. What should we do to deal with this tragedy? Do you know that climate change is more dangerous than any other problems in the world? Considering these facts, all educational systems should act or wait.

In Jordan a rapid movement of educational reform is taking place nowadays. Curriculum development, teacher education, using information and communication technology (ICT), improving teaching and learning strategies and integrating different subjects are among the main objectives of this reform. Taking into account the mentioned expected environmental tragedy, education and teaching for sustainable development should be one of the main objectives of Jordanian educational system in general, as for all other countries for the benefit of the future generations (Hales, 2008). As education is facing many problems, sustainability appears as part of solving these problems.

Education for sustainable development (ESD) is becoming increasingly important at all levels of the educational system including higher education. The UN International Environmental Education Programme ( 1975-1995) first introduced the notion of sustainability in higher education, and the UN is now encouraging all countries to address ESD by making 2005 to 2014 the Decade for ESD. Tilbury (2004) notes apparently widespread support from university leaders for a number of major international declarations promoting ESD, indicating (in principle at least) a commitment to move their institutions towards.

The purpose of sustainability is to present independent university programs and innovations as resources for those who would like to learn more about education teaching for sustainability. Education for sustainability (or sustainable development) fosters concerned and active citizens with critical thinking and problem-solving skills to build an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable world for present and future generations. …