Weaving the threads of education for sustainability and outdoor education
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Sustainability has become a buzz word of our time, although our developed world community is still coming to terms with what the word really means. Universities and polytechnics in Aotearoa New Zealand will have to change in many ways before sustainability can be considered to occupy a meaningful place in the tertiary education sector. However the change process that sees an organisation moving towards sustainability is complex, and agency for change can be considered on many different levels including the individual identities of staff and students, the identity of managers, and the programme and wider organisational identities constructed by the communities that comprise them.
This qualitative research explores education for sustainability within the context of outdoor education using the Bachelor of Adventure Recreation and Outdoor Education (BRecEd) at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) (the programme into which the author teaches) as a case study. Participatory action research forms the overarching methodology for a multiple method approach to data collection. The research leans heavily on the lived experiences of staff and students within the programme, is woven with my own reflections, and incorporates many examples of students’ work. The weaving together of these experiences grounds the research and helps bring theory to life.
The research reveals the complexity of change towards more sustainable ways of practising outdoor education in an organisational setting. It explores the tensions that are encountered and mechanisms that have allowed for staff and students to engage in education for sustainability in a more meaningful way. The key themes of the research explore the intersection of identity construction processes and change agency, and it is argued these processes are inseparable for those concerned with organisational change towards sustainability.