Educating for urban sustainability: A transdisciplinary approach
AbstractAn understanding of sustainability issues should be a key component of degree programmes. It is widely regarded as being a central attribute to professional practice and responsible global citizenship, arguably more so for the training of teachers since they potentially influence their students. This issue was brought to the fore when responsibility for delivering the 'design and the environment' course was transferred to the building discipline at the University of Newcastle in Australia as a result of restructuring. The attractiveness of the subject as an elective, the need to make it accessible to distance learning students and the desirability of applying transdisciplinary approaches to solving environmental problems presented the course designers with both challenges and opportunities, particularly in devising an assessment context within which students from multiple disciplines could be exposed to, and learn from each other's professional environmental evaluation norms. This paper describes an innovative holistic, multi-criteria problem-solving course design that allows a diverse mix of undergraduates to develop a transdisciplinary understanding of sustainability issues through the use of learning contracts. It reports the experiences of staff and students involved with the course, highlighting the beneficial outcomes.