What has Shakespeare got to do with Sustainability? Educating Minds while Teaching

By Neera Handa and Erst Carmichael.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic Free Download

What is the connection between Shakespeare and sustainability? To explain we would like to present a case study of an educational institute where, just like Shakespeare, sustainability as a content and a medium of teaching and learning, is educating students about the relationship between members within society, the environment and economics, the commonly accepted three elements of sustainability (triple bottom line). At the University of Western Sydney, Australia, it can be seen that sustainability is related to and can be relevant to many aspects of university education. For example, it is included in an academic literacy development course, a core engineering first semester subject and an entire Environmental Health course. These three examples demonstrate how sustainability can be integrated into subjects and courses in many different disciplines. The concepts and ideas generated by the controversies surrounding sustainability lend themselves to critical thinking, something that is considered to be a graduate attribute by many Australian universities. This paper argues that education for sustainability is a theme which should be included in university education globally, either within disciplines or in an interdisciplinary context, as it is an essential approach to preservation of our planet and its inhabitants for the future. As a core theme in today’s world sustainability is as universal and topical as is Shakespeare, especially as the urgency for action to preserve the planet and its inhabitants is mounting leaving not much room for contemplating; “to be or not to be” or may be more aptly “to do or not to do” is not a question anymore.

Keywords: Sustainability, Critical Thinking, Education Tools & Resources

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.29-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 637.835KB).

Dr. Neera Handa

Academic, Associate Lecturer in Learning Skills, University Of Western Sydney, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

I have been teaching English and academic literacy to tertiary students both in Australia and overseas for more than two decades. As a Learning Skills lecturer, I support UWS students regarding their academic literacy issues and assist UWS academics in the development of academic skills in their students. I especially enjoy teaching critical literacy skills to students who are new to the university culture, and as a staunch advocate of the sustainability of our planet, I use sustainability as an educating tool in many of my presentations and teaching resources to develop critical thinking skills in my students. I have also taught English literature in another life and remain very interested in it and endorse the role English literature has played in educating and connecting minds all over the world.

Erst Carmichael

Lecturer, Learning Skills Unit, Student Support Services, University of Western Sydney, Lawson, NSW, Australia

I am a Literacy Lecturer in the Learning Skills area working with students from many language backgrounds, including native speakers of English. My focus has been on developing student critical thinking through literacy programs, and I have also recently completed a Masters of Education thesis titled: "Exploration of critical thinking in environmental subjects". I had previously been part of a network of academics who researched student critical thinking and produced materials for student and lecturer use. Environmental and sustainability issues are very important globally and were an obvious choice of discipline for further research into critical thinking. I am also involved in environmental community activities, such as "bushcare", in the Blue Mountains where I live.

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