2015 | 4 | 2 |
Article title

What Kinds of ESD and GE Competencies Will Our Graduates Need?

Title variants
Languages of publication
The concept of education for sustainable development (ESD) competencies is seen as an essential landmark for orienting teaching and learning for SD (sustainable development). ESD competence encompasses key competencies that are expected to enable active, reflective and co-operative learning toward SD. In the text, it is also described why the concept of ESD competencies is an innovation in the field of higher education (HE). A competence-based didactical approach can be a valid alternative to the notion of a curriculum as a plan of studies, providing an innovative way of conceiving and organizing the curricular structure and objectives or discipline contents to prepare students to be competent, autonomous, critical and assertive citizenships. Competence-oriented teaching and learning approach is focusing on students gaining the “concepts and abilities for social action”. Our set of 12 ESD competencies embodies the concepts that will enable students to understand and resolve complex sustainability problems by equipping them with the ability to become change agents. The educational approach reinforces the competencies emphasizes pedagogy in terms of the teaching and learning methodologies and strategies that support the attainment of ESD competencies.
Physical description
  • Adomßent, M., Hoffmann, T. (2013). The concept of competencies in the context of education for sustainable development (ESD), concept paper. Retrieved March 10, 2015 from
  • Barth, M., and Busch, A. (2006). Competencies & Higher Education for Sustainable Development, working paper, Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Communication, University of Lüneburg, Lüneburg.
  • Benedict, F. (2010). Transforming higher education to give competencies for sustainable development, public presentation, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
  • Booth, A. (2010). What do we want our students to be? Higher Education Lecture Series.
  • Bowers, C.A. (2003). Can Critical Pedagogy be Greened?, Educational Studies No. 34, pp. 11–21. DOI:
  • Brundiers, K., and Wiek, A. (2010). Educating students in real-world sustainability research: Vision and implementation, Innovation in Higher Education, Vol. 36 No. 2, 107–124. DOI:
  • Cortese, A. D. (1999). Education for Sustainability: The University as a Model of Sustain-ability. Retrieved March 10, 2015 from
  • Cotton, D.R.E. and Winter, J. (2010). It’s not just bits of paper and light bulbs: A review of sustainability pedagogies and their potential for use in Higher Education, in: P. Jones, D. Selby and S. Sterling (Eds.) Sustainability Education: Perspectives and Practice Across Higher Education, London: Earthscan.
  • Dawe, G., Jucker, R., Martin, S. (2005). Sustainable Development in Higher Education: Current Practice and Future Developments, A report for The Higher Education Academy.
  • de Kraker, J., Lansu, A., van Dam-Mieras, R. (2011). Competences and competence-based learning for sustainable development. Retrieved March 10, 2015 from
  • Fien, J. (2001). Educating for a Sustainable Future, in: J. Campbell (Ed.) Creating Our Common Future: Education for Unity in Diversity London, UNESCO and Berghahn Books.
  • Frisk, E., Larson, K. (2011). Educating for Sustainability: Competencies & Practices for Transformative Action, Journal of Sustainability Education, Vol. 2.
  • Gandhi, M. (1999). The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, New Delhi, Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, Vol. 100 (CD-Rom).
  • Howard, J., Mitchell, D., Spennemann, D., Webster-Mannison, M. (2000). Is today shaping tomorrow for tertiary education in Australia? A comparison of policy and practice, in: International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 83–96. DOI:
  • Jones, P. C., Merritt, J. Q. and Palmer, C. (1999). Critical Thinking and Interdisciplinarity in Environmental Higher Education: the Case for Epistemological and Values Awareness, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 349–357. DOI:
  • Jucker, R. (2002). Our Common Illiteracy: Education as if the Earth and People Mattered, Environmental Education, Communication and Sustainability, Vol. 10 Frankfurt/M., Oxford/New York, Lang.
  • Lotz Sisitka, H. (2006). Enabling Environmental and Sustainability Education in South Africa’s National Curriculum: Context, culture and learner aspirations for agency, in: C.K. Lee and M. Williams (Eds.), Environmental Education and geographical Education for Sustainability: Cultural contexts, Nova Science Publishers.
  • Naji, M. (2010). Slovenian GE School Model, Proceedings of the International Symposium on Competencies of Global Citizens, in: L. Jääskeläinen (Ed.) Helsinki, Finland: FNBE pp. 81–88.
  • Naji, M., Smith, P. (2014). Schooling for the Future. Public presentation at the Best Practice Competition, Abu Dhabi Chamber, UAE.
  • Norberg-Hodge, H. (2000). Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, London, Rider.
  • Orr, D. (1991). What is Education for? The Learning Revolution, In Context No. 27
  • Orr, D. (2002). Foreword, in: S. Sterling (Ed.), Sustainable education: Revisioning learning and change, Schumacher Briefings No. 6, Green Books.
  • Plant, M. (1998). Education for the Environment. Stimulating Practice, Dereham, Peter Francis Publishers.
  • Rahnema, M. (1998). Development and the People’s Immune System: the Story of Another Variety of Aids, in M. Rahnema and V. Bawtree, The Post-Development Reader, London/New Jersey, Zed Books. pp. 111–129.
  • Rowe, D. (2002). Environmental literacy and sustainability as core requirements: success stories and models, in: W.L. Filho (Ed.). Teaching sustainability at universities, Peter Lang, New York.
  • Scott, W. (2002). Sustainability and learning: what role for the curriculum? Inaugural lecture, 25 April 2002, University of Bath.
  • Sterling, S. (2004). Higher Education, Sustainability and the Role of Systemic Learning. Higher Education and the Challenge of Sustainability, pp. 49–70. DOI:
  • Tilbury, D. (2010). A Global Monitoring and Evaluation Framework: Phase II – Processes and Learning, Paris, UNESCO.
  • UNESCO. (2005). Guidelines and Recommendations for Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability, Education for Sustainable Development in Action, Technical Paper No. 2.
  • Wals, A., Jickling, B. (2002). Sustainability in Higher Education, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 221–232. DOI:
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.