Can We Design Schools to Encourage Lifestyle Change? Participation and Sustainable Behaviour

By Andrea Wheeler.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores how participation and sustainability are being addressed by architects within the new schools building programmes in the UK. It examines Government policy, the Sustainable Schools initiative and a variety of participation practices, to investigate how the participation of children in the design of their school environments can encourage sustainable citizenship. The Children’s Plan: Building Brighter Futures (published in December 2007) by the Department for Children, Schools and Families states an ambition for all new school buildings to be zero carbon by 2016. Tony Blair states of the Building Schools for the Future programme: “Sustainable development will not just be a subject in the classroom: it will be in its bricks and mortar and the way the school uses and even generates its own power. Our students won’t just be told about sustainable development, they will see and work within it: a living, learning place in which to explore what a sustainable lifestyles means’ (Blair, 2004). The involvement of young people in design processes is often used to suggest empowerment, place making and community building and yet sustainability implies an agenda often in conflict with commonly held community belief. Theoretical investigations of sustainable citizenship can provide a useful insight into such problems, but educating young people about sustainability citizenship in the design process implies their own exploration of how they are in the world together with how they relate to political theory. We need some very different ways of teaching in the C21st if we are to address the social and environmental problems that climate change will bring, and many ethical questions are being refused by educationalists, policy makers and architects.

Blair, T. (2004) “PM Speech on Climate Change 14th September 2004” Archive No. 10 Downing Street, London. http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/page6333.asp.

Keywords: Schools, Sustainability, Participation, Education

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.407MB).

Dr. Andrea Wheeler

Research Fellow, The School of Education and Built Environment, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK

Andrea Wheeler is an ESRC funded Interdisciplinary Research Fellow working in the Schools of Education and Built Environment of the University of Nottingham.

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