Contemporary media is saturated with images of extreme weather events, hunger, poverty, conflict, pollution, austerity and financial crisis. Mounting evidence suggests the 21st century will be defined by unprecedented challenges related to environmental instability, economic inequality and risks to social well-being on a global scale. The idea of sustainability has become a focal point in efforts to tackle the root causes of these challenges yet often seems elusive. The meanings of sustainability and implications for action are as hotly contested as they are complex, wide-ranging and value-laden. As a result, this unit brings a wide range of perspectives to bear on questions of sustainability that integrate environmental, social and economic disciplines. The unit will develop your interdisciplinary understanding of sustainability through critical thinking, reflection and evidence-based argument focussed on practical case studies drawn from around the world. Unit delivery focusses on dialogue and inquiry between teachers, yourself and your peers that respects the importance of diverse perspectives. The unit develops skills related to understanding core concepts, synthesising knowledge, communicating with diverse audiences, engaging in constructive debate and becoming more self-aware of what sustainability means and what practices it entails—professionally and personally.
Global Food Security
This unit explores the complex and pressing issue of Global Food Security (GFS) from a range of disciplinary perspectives that encompass agricultural, technological, ecological, economic, political, cultural and moral questions. This involves developing critical thinking and an appreciation of pluralist approaches as GFS contains many confounding issues and perspectives. This is perhaps best illustrated by the duality of 1 billion hungry and 1 billion obese people living in the world today. This is a truly global issue and one in which it will be important to examine Tasmania's role in developing solutions.
The Academic Operations Sustainability Integration Program (AOSIP) provides a framework within which academics and students can work in partnership with operational staff to deliver operational sustainability outcomes while achieving academic credit, undertaking research or enhancing learning and teaching activities through an active learning laboratory for sustainability.
AOSIP projects have involved students from 1st year through to higher degrees in a number of schools and institutes, including the School of Architecture and Design, the School of Land and Food, the School of Social Sciences, School of Engineering and ICT and the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics.
The AOSIP webpage contains links to videos describing the program and providing perspectives on the value of the program from students, learning and teaching staff, researchers and operational staff.
In 2014 a working group of the UTAS Education for Sustainability Community of Practice (EfS CoP) was successful in obtaining a UTAS Community Engagement Grant (CEG) from the Office of the Provost. The project aims to extend the University EfS CoP into a statewide network of formal, non-formal and informal education organisations. The project's primary engagement aims are to:
- enhance dialogue between EfS practitioners and professionals across the State; and
- develop the statewide network necessary to apply for status as a United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise (UN RCE) in Education for Sustainable Development.
To achieve project aims, the working group has led or co-organised the development of a series of workshops with EfS practitioners and professionals across the State in order to establish an active network with an agreed upon set of values, goals and communication strategies to support the strategic and collaborative development of EfS in Tasmania. The workshops facilitated dialogue between EfS stakeholders around the key themes and responsibilities necessary for an application to establish a Tasmanian RCE.
Workshops and outcomes to date
Workshop 1 – hosted by EfS CoP CEG on Sandy Bay, Newnham and Cradle Coast campuses
Outcomes – agreed to notion of a statewide CoP and goal of achieving UN RCE status
Workshop 2 – hosted by Skilling Tasmania for a Sustainable Future project; co-facilitated by EfS CoP CEG
Outcomes – inclusion of industry perspective and EfS skilling needs of industry
Tasmanian EfS Symposium – Champions for Change: Creating Sustainable Futures; hosted by Swinburne University's National Centre for Sustainability in collaboration with UTAS, TasTAFE and Sustainable Living Tasmania
Outcomes – showcased the UTAS leadership role in wider statewide networking for EfS; Corey Peterson and Kristin Warr Pedersen presented the statewide CoP (plenary) and Corey Peterson on specific EfS CoP projects (sessions)
Workshop 3 – hosted by UTAS and Sustainable Living Tasmania ; workshop UNRCE framework and assess ongoing interest
Outcomes – in principle support from participants for Tasmanian Regional Centre of Excellence
Workshop 4 – hosted by UTAS; allocate sections of application to become UNRCE
Outcomes – support from participants to begin drafting application for review in May 2015
Workshop 5 – hosted by Sustainable Living Tasmania; draft proposal for UNRCE presented to all members,
|Yet to be held|
Outcomes – workshop to deliver final draft of application to become UNRCE
The proposed project aims to 'link and leverage the parallel networks of sustainability education currently in place by building local, national and international links between Education for Sustainability (EfS) leaders in similar roles in different locations'. (TALFS Summary Report, p. 19)
At the end of the proposed project, leading EfS practitioners drawn from across Australia and across discipline areas will be in place. They will share and disseminate best practice EfS in light of clear understanding about the processes that best assist development of EfS in the tertiary sector. They will also share ways to address the contextual barriers that limit development of EfS. This will be summarised in an EfS in Practice Handbook to foster widespread dissemination of project outcomes.