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What is Sustainable and Integrative Active Learning?

What is Sustainable and Integrative Active Learning?

According to Dawe et al. (2005) “There is universal acknowledgement that a wide-range of skills and knowledge are required to create an action-oriented sustainability literate graduate body.”

Active Learning

A promising teaching approach that can develop sustainability competences in learners is Active learning. According to Roehl et al. (2013) “Active learning is an umbrella term for pedagogies focusing on student activity and student engagement in the learning process.” Active learning incorporates problem-based learning, co-operative and collaborative learning, experiential learning, role-play, and peer instruction and the educator is not the source of all knowledge that’s delivered.

Education for Sustainability

UNESCO in 2020 has adopted a new global framework for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), UNESCO defines it as “holistic and transformational” education that “empowers learners with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to take informed decisions and make responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and a just society”

Sustainable and Integrative Active Learning

Active-learning pedagogies possess a great potential as serious game-changer through active- learning toolkits to deliver sustainability knowledge and skills in material education. Active learning can instigate students’ awareness of sustainability issues whilst simultaneously providing opportunities to develop and enhance their learning and personal development planning (PDP) skills. A considerable overlap between sustainability skills and the skills needed for active learning and personal development. Pedagogies should include reflective and active learning, involving experiential, collaborative and learner-centred activities.

Integrative active learning promotes self-direction in the learning process. Education for Sustainable Development should employ interdisciplinary, interactive, project-based, learner- centred pedagogy, with learning content (integrating sustainability issues into the curriculum) and outcomes (empowering learners to contribute to societal transformation).

Across the world higher education institutions are increasingly placing an emphasis on students’ acquisition of a broader range of skills or attributes within the taught curriculum, which should lead to a broadening of their chances of academic success, explicitly in the employment market. One such example is ‘flipped classroom’ (FC) at a UK university that incorporated reflective and active learning an interdisciplinary social science ESD course, using FC which makes time in class for reflective and active learning by moving content acquisition to pre-class study.

Sustainable development is a core component of the curriculum in many disciplines. Therefore, at the University of Gloucestershire: Department of Natural and Social Sciences include the cluster of environmental in the following disciplines Animal Biology, Biology, Community Development, Environmental Management, Environmental Science, Heritage Management,

Human Geography, Geography, Garden Design, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Design, Landscape Management, Local Policy and Physical Geography.


The traditional lecture-based university teaching is inadequate to convey a sustainable point of view, lectures are ineffective learning approaches to values and skills. Many universities do not yet cater for integrative approaches, which may help them to approach sustainability issues in a transformative way. Among other issues, there is a lack of interactive, project-based, learner-centred appropriate pedagogies that engage learners in effective education for sustainable development. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to develop new approaches and methods, which may address this gap.