This framework is the basis upon which we address sustainability learning, mapping connections to its themes at the individual and program levels.

Framework graphic

About the framework

There are five themes which make up the bulk of the framework, all of which are interconnected. The themes are underpinned by sub-themes, to further draw out what is meant:

Harmony and Wellbeing

This theme addresses social considerations of sustainability. Harmony and wellbeing are fundamental to human security, dignity and development. The sustainable development of any culture is always endangered by situations that expose people to instability, insecurity and conflict. By not addressing these challenges, it can lead to significant human tragedies, increased poverty, overwhelming health issues, racial tension, often resulting in increasing numbers of displaced people and refugees. Therefore it is essential to address basic human needs and concerns to reduce social impacts globally.

Sub themes include:

Economies and Economic Wellbeing

As one of the pillars of sustainability, it is important to consider the role of the economy in reaching a more balanced and equitable society.  Current economic systems have a tendency to greatly contribute to depletion of resources, widening of inequality within countries, and a make-take-waste mentality.  The economy can however, be a source of substantial change towards sustainability.

Sub themes include:

Natural Resources

This theme refers to the need to appropriately manage and conserve our natural resources to ensure that the ecosystems upon which we depend survive and thrive into the future.  The rate at which we currently use our natural resources is above and beyond the planet's ability to naturally replenish them, ultimately leading to a resource shortage affecting water, food and material supplies across the globe.  Each of the below sub-themes represents an important component of managing and conserving our natural resources.

Sub themes include:

Climate Change

Undoubtedly climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing society today and into the future.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been producing reports and data on the reality of climate change since 1990.

Given it's significant impact, the topic of climate change has been given its own category, though it must be understood that each of the other themes are intricately connected to this particular theme, as each impacts on our ability to manage the predicted effects of continued climate change.

Sub themes include:

Implementation and Governance

Learning about and understanding sustainability and sustainable development is of no real consequence unless the learning and understanding is accompanied with the implementation of intent.  To implement any kind of plan or action requires certain skills or conditions to be met in order to ensure greater success.

Sub themes include:

Pedagogical approach

Education for sustainability is more than providing students with content related to the framework themes above. It also addresses learning skills, perspectives, and values that guide and motivate people to seek sustainable livelihoods, participate in a democratic society, and live in a sustainable manner.

Sub themes include:
  • Learning skills
  • Perspectives
  • Values recognition

How was it developed? 

Academics across the Faculties used international platforms such as Agenda 21, the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and the Commission for Sustainable Development framework for Sustainable Development. The framework was not only piloted and reviewed with People and Planet unit conveners in 2012, but has also been critiqued at an international level in workshops held in the UK and the USA. 

The framework is the basis of our approach to making implicit connections to sustainability more explicit. It provides a comprehensive and holistic understanding of sustainability from both a content and pedagogical perspective.

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