HOUSE MASTER SCHOOL: Career Model for Education and Training in Integrated and Sustainable Conservation of Built Environments
Abstract: Based on a participatory action research methodology and approach (AR), this dissertation explores the core theoretical problems and opportunities of education and learning for sustainable development (ESD) within the cross-disciplinary area of integrated and sustainable conservation of built environments. The main purpose has been to develop an epistemological framework for integrated lifelong learning, ethics and advanced research (R&D) and to provide a new sustainable education and career model for the field to be applied in the Dalecarlia region and on a national level within the Swedish construction industry at large; i.e. the House Master School (HMS). This includes the development of a new professional “House Master”; a new conservation and sustainable building „process manager‟ or engineer at the interface between various disciplines and with an emphasis on high quality and traditional crafts and design, refurbishment and reuse, preventive conservation and long-term maintenance of the built environment. The HMS is developed according to the principles of integrated lifelong learning, ESD and the Bologna Model for higher education in Europe and will be implemented as part of a well-coordinated training strategy, nationally as well as internationally, including initiation of specific training and exchange programs and R&D. The Swedish approach to transdisciplinary case study research (TCSR) and educational system development has been used as placed in an international context. An outline and assessment of the contribution of action research, critical systems thinking and complexity theory is provided as part of the overall research methodology and design. The main aim of this R&D project has been to promote a sound understanding and conceptualization of meta-theoretical foundations, functions, structures, drivers, needs and dynamic applicability of methods to support integrated lifelong learning and ESD, research and development within the Swedish building sector and to provide a new innovative education and career model, which if implemented successfully, would have a direct impact on the environment, the economy, community and sustainable development processes at large. By using the HMS Model as a case study, this research entails a commitment to socially transformative research - i.e. the methodology is grounded in a vision of educational and organizational change based on an integration of ecological and conservation values. This includes an identification of deficiencies and needs in existing education and training systems, including an assessment of anticipated qualification and emerging learning needs with an emphasis on integrated architectural conservation, construction maintenance and crafts education and training. The aim is to provide new and enhanced career opportunities for young construction students, particularly engineers, skilled trades and craftspeople, as well as for other professionals in need for continuing professional development (CPD) and training in this field. This dissertation demonstrates the epistemological basis, an appropriate conceptual framework and an organizational and methodological design for educational change and development, integrated lifelong learning and ESD for the construction and architectural heritage field at large. If proved successful, the HMS Model may be used as a demonstrative and be adapted and transferred to other relevant sectors, regions and/or countries. It argues that an appropriate education and conservation policy and an integrated life cycle approach are important factors for obtaining sustainability and lifelong learning and for launching new sustainable education and training programs, new products and processes, enterprises, R&D, standards and principles for the future. The central argument is that sustainability/ESD is an ongoing multi-dimensional learning process that seeks and requires cultural change through (a) transdisciplinary education, learning and research, (b) multidisciplinary team- and networked approaches to educational development and change and (d) participatory and communicative action between various disciplines, institutions, NGOs, companies/SMEs and stakeholders. A key lesson derived from this research is the need for preventative systemic thinking and increased stakeholder participation in architectural conservation and construction projects and in inter- and cross-disciplinary research (R&D), in urban and rural development planning and especially the planning for such education and training.
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