Learning and teaching sustainable development in global-local contexts
Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis is to develop knowledge of teaching and learning sustainable development in global–local contexts. The research field is global learning for sustainable development (GLSD). Phenomenographic approach and contextual analysis were used as methods of analysis, and data was collected by Semi-structured interviews at secondary and upper secondary schools in Sweden. In Study I, a strategic and systematic literature review was conducted of recent trends and critique to the dominating rhetoric on policy level concerning global education and global learning on sustainability issues. The complexity represented in GLSD is of global interest to face current challenges. The global–local context and the process for global learning were characterised by the learner’s perspective and self-efficacy. The variation of ways in which contextual features were revealed, affected how participants experienced their own learning global learning space. In Study II, empirical investigations were conducted of students’, teachers’, and head teachers’ conceptions of implementation of GLSD. Results indicate that critical knowledge capabilities were needed to act towards sustainability globally. Critical knowledge capabilities developed in the processes were to take command and collaborate as a team. Capabilities that were identified as necessary but which had not been sufficiently developed were to be prepared, act in a transdisciplinary manner and lead for holistic understanding in the learning process. Critical knowledge capabilities to handle complex knowledge were characterised by volition, self-directed learning, and knowledge formation. In Study III, a re-analysis was conducted of the data from Study II. The results shed light on pertinent transition skills in GLSD: (I) transdisciplinary action via knowledge formation in actual practices, (II) democratic collaborative action via processes of understanding, respectively (III) self-directed learning and independent initiative. These transition skills, enabling young people to be prepared for unpredictable changes, were perceived as key features in developing young people’s capability in an uncertain world. They developed worldview understanding, and advanced transformation competencies including critical reflections upon questions of current normativity. In Study IV, collaborative and transdisciplinary teaching with a global–local perspective was investigated in a study with teachers committed to global learning and sustainable development at an upper secondary school. Two main transdisciplinary teaching approaches of GLSD were distinguished: Contributing: Assist and Take Part respectively Ownership: Possess and Reconceptualise. The contributing approach was divided into the sub-categories: (I) Disheartened, (II) Supportive, and (III) Complementing teaching approaches; while the ownership approach comprised (IV) Decisive, and (V) Multi-dimensional teaching approaches. Various dimensions of the results appeared to be relevant for sustainability teaching and learning in global–local contexts, when connections between the studies were analysed in relation to the context and the overarching aims of the thesis. Through transdisciplinary teaching deep approaches to learning can be developed and Global teaching for sustainable development (GTSD) could be advanced. Individual and collaborative learning characterised by selfdetermination, responsibility, and social readiness leading to action emerged as key aspects At a global–local level, there is a growing need to develop competencies and capabilities for transitions towards sustainability. Conflicts and climate change are drastically increasing the number of displaced people who need transnational education on proactive preventive strategies, as well as develop to critical knowledge capabilities that can be useful across numerous contexts and in the face of changing circumstances. Increasingly, also young people need to manage their own learning processes in self-directed learning, regardless of where they are physically or may move in their lifetimes. As established social structures struggle to address global challenges, people across the planet need to be able to organise themselves and to take initiatives.
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