Learning and teaching sustainable development in global-local contexts

Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis is to develop knowledge of teachingand learning sustainable development in global–local contexts. Theresearch field is global learning for sustainable development (GLSD).Phenomenographic approach and contextual analysis were used asmethods of analysis, and data was collected by Semi-structuredinterviews at secondary and upper secondary schools in Sweden.In Study I, a strategic and systematic literature review was conductedof recent trends and critique to the dominating rhetoric on policy levelconcerning global education and global learning on sustainabilityissues. The complexity represented in GLSD is of global interest toface current challenges. The global–local context and the process forglobal learning were characterised by the learner’s perspective andself-efficacy. The variation of ways in which contextual features wererevealed, affected how participants experienced their own learningglobal 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 toact towards sustainability globally. Critical knowledge capabilitiesdeveloped in the processes were to take command and collaborateas a team. Capabilities that were identified as necessary but whichhad not been sufficiently developed were to be prepared, act in atransdisciplinary manner and lead for holistic understanding in thelearning process. Critical knowledge capabilities to handle complexknowledge were characterised by volition, self-directed learning, andknowledge formation. In Study III, a re-analysis was conducted of the data from StudyII. The results shed light on pertinent transition skills in GLSD:(I) transdisciplinary action via knowledge formation in actualpractices, (II) democratic collaborative action via processes ofunderstanding, respectively (III) self-directed learning and independentinitiative. These transition skills, enabling young people to beprepared for unpredictable changes, were perceived as key featuresin developing young people’s capability in an uncertain world. Theydeveloped worldview understanding, and advanced transformationcompetencies including critical reflections upon questions of currentnormativity. In Study IV, collaborative and transdisciplinary teaching with aglobal–local perspective was investigated in a study with teacherscommitted to global learning and sustainable development at anupper secondary school. Two main transdisciplinary teachingapproaches of GLSD were distinguished: Contributing: Assist andTake Part respectively Ownership: Possess and Reconceptualise.The contributing approach was divided into the sub-categories: (I)Disheartened, (II) Supportive, and (III) Complementing teachingapproaches; while the ownership approach comprised (IV) Decisive,and (V) Multi-dimensional teaching approaches. Various dimensions of the results appeared to be relevant forsustainability teaching and learning in global–local contexts, whenconnections between the studies were analysed in relation to the contextand the overarching aims of the thesis. Through transdisciplinaryteaching deep approaches to learning can be developed and Globalteaching for sustainable development (GTSD) could be advanced.Individual and collaborative learning characterised by selfdetermination,responsibility, and social readiness leading to actionemerged as key aspects At a global–local level, there is a growing need to develop competenciesand capabilities for transitions towards sustainability. Conflicts andclimate change are drastically increasing the number of displacedpeople who need transnational education on proactive preventivestrategies, as well as develop to critical knowledge capabilities that can be useful across numerous contexts and in the face of changingcircumstances. Increasingly, also young people need to manage theirown learning processes in self-directed learning, regardless of wherethey are physically or may move in their lifetimes. As established socialstructures struggle to address global challenges, people across theplanet need to be able to organise themselves and to take initiatives.