Author(s):Birgitta Nordén (presenting)

Conference:ECER 2013, Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research

Network:27. Didactics - Learning and Teaching


Session Information

27 SES 05 B, Integrated Contents towards New Competenciees

Paper Session



Chair:Matthias Trautmann


Towards Sustainability: Teaching and Learning beyond Disciplines through Global Didactics

Towards sustainability the implementation of Global Learning for Sustainable Development (GLSD) is crucial. A better understanding of how to, from a global didactic angle, establish globally genuine dialogues forming nuanced conceptions of sustainable development (SD) is necessary. Global teaching as well as global learning has to identify the challenges in various contexts for transdisciplinary knowledge formation. Complex demands underlying the discourse of GLSD show that a need for real integration into the curriculum is critical. A global perspective in the curriculum offers students the potential to relate their experiences to a more extensive context.  This could contribute to increasing a public awareness of environmental issues, promote environmental training among educators, and improve provision of basic education.
 In this research, individuals given the opportunity to take command over their learning and their own world experiences within this field, are related to collective learning consciousness, knowledge formation conduct  when managing ESD & SD on the Global Curriculum Agenda. The increasing importance of accessible educational communities, and the global character of SD issues provides more learning opportunities  – individuals may thus create more nuanced conceptions, to cope with increasing societal complexity (Burbules).  More theory-based knowledge of learning and teaching in global settings is needed, since the field mostly is based on policies – empirical investigations rare.
The aim is to highlight some crucial elements of the global dimension in teaching and learning towards sustainability, in the context of preventive management strategies from a global didactic angle. The educational perspective of globalization adopted here,  as well as limitations in the scope and focus in this presentation, are shaped against the background of the ultimate focus on GLSD. Both individual and collective self-development and self-determination are emphasized, while learning & teaching practices can be adapted to crucial issues, concerning our planet, and its management for SD. 
The overall objective: seeking for and advancing holistic understanding.  Balance theory and practice combining holism and perception: A holistic approach requires an interpretation of the meaning of the parts from an interpretation of the whole and vice versa. Holism and relations are important starting points and a relevant epistemological background to the development of  knowledge about the environment.
Crucial management skills is required from the teacher as the role of the teacher enhance from being expert. Over the years, the concept of global learning is discussed more and more and developed in the area of developmental and environmental policies and the education of them (Brunold). Global Learning presupposes competencies, which individuals need to  acquire if they want to actively shape the development of world society, including management skills (Olum) as team skills, readiness to compromise and cooperate, coping with change, creative & lateral thinking, the ability to deal with insecurity, integrated thinking, and systemic thinking. Intercultural learning could develop ‘global consciousness’ competencies and support global citizenship - and, ‘emergent holistic consciousness’ through the connection of cultures to a complex collective whole, may form a collective learning consciousness. This challenge takes off in the particular global perspective formulated above.


Phenomenography is the research method used in the conducted studies. Empirical findings, regarding experiences of local challenges of learning and teaching sustainability in global settings, are compared. Through the Young Masters Program (YMP), an online course about sustainability and preventive environmental management strategies, the Global Classroom as Extended Classroom is investigated.
STUDY 1. Analyzing pupils experiences of online learning sustainability in a global setting in the research project "Learning in the ICT-extended University". Data collected through a semi-structured online questionnaire, with both closed and open questions (221 students, 19 countries, 2004).
STUDY 2. Upper secondary school teachers’ experiences of the YMP were investigated. Data: interviews with the written answers from 26 teachers in 16 countries (Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Ghana, Greece, India, Jordan, P. R. of China, Lithuania, Mauritius, Poland, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Vietnam), 2006.
STUDY 3. Implementation study of GLSD in the Swedish pilot project Lund Calling, to facilitate for a number of schools, aiming at implementing the YMP as part of their regular curriculum. Data: semi-structured interviews (n=20) in a longitudinal study at compulsory schools (years 8-9) and upper secondary schools in Lund Municipality (8 students, 5 teachers and 2 headmasters, 2008-2009).

Expected Outcomes

The three compared studies discerned the need for developing a better understanding of the global didactic angle, from which GLSD is recognized. Performance studies (TIMSS, PISA, UNESCO’s Delors Report 1996) are criticized for validating and legitimizing curriculum reforms on a basis of ‘global indicators of quality teaching and learning’, with the hidden agenda of promoting a form of ‘new accountability’ to international agencies (i.e. OECD). Research is needed on innovative educational approaches, with the potential to facilitate real transdisciplinary thinking seeking to integrate sustainability ideas into the curriculum. Knowledge formation conduct means improving quality, and the obligation to implement improvements by breaking down barriers, to encourage collective learning consciousness and self-improvement for everyone. An ongoing process of compression-expansion of time/space/meaning appears to be affecting institutions and educational organizations, in their attempts to extend their reach. Media and grassroots organizations appear to perceive the call for GLSD, seeing a task to fulfill in this area. Combining such efforts could further develop appropriate practices for GLSD. Learners could be better equipped to cope with subject matters of great complexity and form nuanced conceptions of sustainability. A condition for such processes is the establishment of a global (and genuine) didactic dialogue.


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This proposal is part of a master or doctoral thesis.

Author Information

Birgitta Nordén (presenting)
Malmö University
Learning and Society