Learning Design for Sustainable Development

Ruth Crick, Tom McDermott, Nicole Hutchison


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to theorise an approach to learning design for formal education and training contexts, which can empower the student-led acquisition of competences for sustainable development with particular reference to engineering education.

Design: the paper presents a conceptual framework which synthesises two extant bodies of empirical research (i) into the development of systems engineering proficiencies and (ii) the development of learning power and authentic enquiry.

Findings: Bringing these two research-based bodies of knowledge together enables the conceptualisation of a practical learning design which integrates the development of self-leadership, learning relationships and complex problem solving for sustainable futures. These two approaches, and their synthesis, have been implemented in practice but not reported on or theorised before.

Originality: This transdisciplinary theoretical study was undertaken by the original researchers to integrate and transcend the limitations of disciplinary and siloed approaches to learning design for 21C meta-competencies and to explore a common architecture capable of deployment over time and adaptable to different contexts.

Research limitations/implications: Whilst the two strands of research underpinning this synthesis are well researched, the integrated model has yet to be empirically verified through appropriate scientific methodologies.

Practical implications: this study provides a foundation for the development of a core curricular spine  to be developed as an accreditation framework in formal education and work-based settings. The development of a rigorous measurement model has significant implications for policy and practice.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/jetss.v3n3p15


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