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Environmental education for sustainability in higher education institutions in the Philippines

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Purpose ‐ To present a national profile of developments in higher education for sustainable development in the Philippines and to analyse a new initiative to accelerate environmental education for sustainable development (EESD) within academic institutions. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This is an evaluative review that examines the design and piloting of an innovative scheme within the Philippine education system. The analysis is situated in relation to the approaches taken by prior initiatives and framed in order to draw out significant challenges, developments, and prospects for EESD at the organizational level. Findings ‐ The paper finds that EESD in the Philippines has an official base in the National Environmental Education Action Plan, which provides a framework to guide higher education. Two national networks promote environmental education, while environmental training and curriculum projects have been supported by government agencies and academic institutions, but without explicit policy support for more widespread changes. In contrast, the Dark Green Schools (DGS) program offers a distinctive "whole institution" approach and accreditation system devised in line with the principles of EESD for coherent systemic change. The design and pilot year of the DGS program shows positive potential for "greening" academic institutions and the issues that arise in seeking curriculum change, future funding, and formal support at sector level. Originality/value ‐ The DGS is an innovative program to promote "whole institution" change for EESD in the Philippines. Whilst similar approaches have been developed in some countries at the level of school education, such initiatives are rare at the level of higher education. This paper therefore includes lessons and findings that help to inform global debate in this important area of EESD in higher education.
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Keywords: Educational innovation; Higher education; Philippines; Sustainable development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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