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Curriculum change and climate change: Inside outside pressures in higher education

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Abstract:

In higher education today, institutions are facing a number of challenges—including the challenge to create future-proof graduates. Higher education institutions have a particular mandate to develop future leaders and decision-makers capable of understanding and providing solutions to complex, global issues. Education programmes that focus on multi-disciplinary thinking are required to prepare future leaders to solve problems not yet known to be problems. Using a case study of a postgraduate climate change programme, this study illustrates the challenges addressed and resulting rewards when reforming the curriculum. Two theoretical curriculum models informed the re-imagination of the programme: objectives-based and action research following the process inquiry model. The reformation was undertaken by the programme teachers as researchers of their practice. To future-proof graduates, this study discusses how curricular intentions are aligned with the institution’s capacity for action towards change. Avoiding a business-as-usual scenario when faced with complex, politicized and global issues such as climate change requires both programme and course curricula continuous evaluation and revision. Alignment with internal (university and teacher-level) goals and external directives is required.

Keywords: action research; climate change education; curriculum development; higher education; intended learning outcomes; objectives-based; process-inquiry

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2012.679011

Publication date: 2012-10-01

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