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MPhil in Environmental Science, Policy and Management:A Feasibility Study of Utilizing Big History as a New Pedagogical Framework in Achieving a Paradigm Transition from Environmental Education to Education for Sustainability
AbstractToo many definitions of sustainability nowadays cater for the need of flexibility and feasibility for implementation. However, the many definitions from various perspectives are challenging to the delivery of sustainability pedagogical approach. With the rapidly rising complexity of sustainability issues in the twenty-one century, which cannot be addressed by a narrow disciplinary approach, equipping student’s interdisciplinary mindset is needed desperately. On the other hand, the modern disciplinary fragmentation eliminates the chance to discuss about the sustainability of humanity as a whole. A recognized framework for it is also lacking, which leads to handicap the communication and collaboration between endeavors from various disciplines. In addition, we have been teaching a climate change course since 2009. The nominal results are satisfying, whereas the students, our future leaders, generally feel pessimistic towards the sustainability circumstances and disregard themselves as the agent for change.

Meanwhile, Big History – a new paradigm, recently put forward by David Christian and other key scholars along with the contingency contributed by Bill Gates, causes our attention. Big History is a prevailing example of disciplinary consilience in constructing the whole natural history and human history into one single thematic structure with using the latest scientific evidence as the complements. We then, re-structured the course by embedding Big History as the pedagogical framework and addressing its prospective potentials in delivering sustainability, in which, surveying climate change is only one of the many approaches in explaining the complexity. We analyzed the students’ performance by administrating a pre-course and post-course survey, studying student feedbacks and their essay and poster assignments. The students’ performance in various aspects are encouraging. Several challenges are also discussed for further improvements. It is hope that this study can serve as a showcase on how we change the pedagogical framework for shifting the focus by employing a new and bigger narrative in delivering a sustainability course.
When 16 August 2017 14:30 - 15:30
Where Room 2302 (Lifts 17-18) 2/F Academic Building, HKUST
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Contact Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact ENVR at envr@ust.hk.
Payment Free []
Audience General Public,Faculty / Staff,Students,All are welcome
Language English
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