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  • Civic Education for Sustainability



    The aim of this unit is to introduce students to the challenge of living sustainably within planetary limits. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and conflicts between unequal social groups raise complex and interrelated issues. Higher education institutions have an important role in developing critical and creative thinking about such important issues – the meta-narrative of the supposed anthropocene  epoch.

    Sustainable thinking requires us to engage with ‘wicked problems’ which although connected, involve complex feedback back loops leading to unpredictable outcomes. In many cases there are no simple solutions and as such students will need to be able to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity as they engage in critical and creative thinking. Difficult thinking is therefore the fundamental stance from which to make wise decisions for a sustainable future.

    In the development of a deeper understanding of sustainability and sustainable development students will become more aware of the contested nature of sustainability. This will include encountering, within cultural contexts, terms and concepts derived from ecology, economics, social and political theory.


    • Analyze the conceptions of the sustainable development
    • Recognize the socio-cultural and economic implications of the sustainable development
    • Identify the importance of identity with the place of life in the context of sustainable development
    • Delineate the significance of responsibility for the place where I belong


    • Frontal teaching followed by active group work.
    • Watching video and exploring definitions of sustainability
    • Exploring community definitions of sustainability
    • Encountering "wicked problems" 


    Activity 1.

     Frontal teaching using ‘exploring-sustainability’ website to provide definitions of sustainability and how these have been developed. 

    Students engage with the website and video links to explore further definitions of sustainability.

    Compare definitions with each other and the wider group.

    ‘Interview’ 2-3 family members and friends – focus on older and younger members to contrast generational understandings of sustainability. 

    ‘Interview’ 2-3 Students from other universities in the CURE project to contrast cultural understandings of sustainability.

    Reflect on the Living Report and respond to the following questions …

    Explain the patterns on the graphs on p16. 

    What do you think these graphs will look like in 10, 20, 50 and 500 years time?

    Panel Discussion

    Role Playing

    Narrative/Video Analysis

    Case Studies

    Collaborative Learning

    Jigsaw Group Work

    Technology-Based Activities

    Problem-Based Learning

    Activity 2.

     Watch the movie

    to find out about a range of global problems 


    Compulsory Literature:


    Raworth, K. (2012) A Safe and Just Space for Humanity. Oxfam Discussion Paper

    Available from:


    WWF (2016) Living Planet Report 2016. The summary

    Available from:




    Supporting Literature:

    Scoffham, S. (2014) Exploring Sustainability Website.



    Kellert, S.R. and Gustave Speth, J. (2009) The Coming Transformation/; Values to sustain human and natural communities. Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Available from:


    Kingsnorth, P. and Hine, D (2009). Uncivilisation: The dark mountain manifesto.



    Lovelock, J. (1979/2009) Gaia: A new look at life on earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press



    Environments and livelihoods: strategies for sustainability. Koos Neefjes.Oxford: Oxfam Publication, 2000

    Sustainability and communities of place. edited by Carl A. Maida. New York; Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2011

    Fundamentals of sustainable development. Niko Roorda with Peter Blaze Corcoran and Joseph P. Weakland. London; New York: Routledge, 2012.

    Health and sustainability: an introduction. Tee L. Guidotti. Oxford [etc.]: Oxford University Press, cop. 2015

    Environment, health and sustainable development. Megan Landon. Landon, Open University Press, 2006

    Science, ethics, sustainability: the responsibility of science in attaining sustainable development. ed. Anders Nordgren. Uppsala: Uppsala Univ., 1997

    Transitions to sustainable development: new directions in the study of long term transformative change. John Grin, Jan Rotmans and Johan Schot; in collaboration with Frank Geels and Derk Loorbach. New York; Abingdon: Routledge, 2010

    Cultural sustainability and regional development: theories and practices of territorialisation. edited by Joost Dessein, Elena Battaglini and Lummina Horlings.Dessein. London; New York: Routledge, 2016

    Biodiversity, sustainability, and human communities: protecting beyond the protected. ed. Tim O'Riordan, Susanne Stoll-Kleemann. Cambridge


     אחירון-פרומקין  ת., פרומקין,  ר. (2004).  המחיר הסביבתי של ניצול משאבי הטבע על ידי האדם.  אאוריקה:  כתב עת להוראת מדעים וטכנולוגיה. אוניברסיטת תל אביב, הוצאתרמות מתוך

    UNIT 1: INTRODUCTION TO SUSTAINABILITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT-- Topic 2: Historical Relationship between Humans and the Environment