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Higher education and curriculum innovation for sustainable development in India

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to analyze and profile significant national developments in higher education for sustainable development in India and to compare different educational approaches emerging in connection with education for sustainable development. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This is an evaluative review of contrasting initiatives to provide environmental and sustainability education in different institutions, that takes into account philosophy, policy and practice in Indian higher education. Academic programmes, policy statements and education projects are analyzed, to highlight important developments, challenges and the prospects for future progress. Findings ‐ Several principles of sustainable development are embedded in India's education policy. It is perhaps the only country where the highest court has mandated environmental education at all levels of formal education, which includes a compulsory undergraduate course. However, the challenges of implementing this requirement effectively are hampered by lack of inter-disciplinary competence among staff and students, and traditional methods of assessment in HE. India has examples of successful community-based initiatives but these often have resource implications. Many efforts to develop learning opportunities in this field have emerged primarily from academic and student interests and priorities rather than from formal policy initiatives. Originality/value ‐ This paper provides an evaluative perspective on the diverse and innovative responses to sustainability emerging in Indian higher education, in curriculum development and to address issues of practice on campus and in local communities. The opportunity to analyse the implementation of a national initiative is unusual, particularly in the distinctive context of India, which has considerable prior engagement with sustainable development at the level of policy and practice.
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Keywords: Curriculum development; Educational innovation; Higher education; India; Sustainable development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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