HDR Final Thesis Presentation: Phyllis Araneo - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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HDR Final Thesis Presentation: Phyllis Araneo

We would like to invite you to attend the Final Thesis Presentation of Phyllis Araneo, a Doctor of Philosophy candidate in the School of Social Sciences.

Thesis title: Developing an Exemplary Education for Sustainable Development Course: A Multiple Case Study of First Year, Multidisciplinary ESD Courses in Tertiary Education

When: Wednesday, 2 December 2020, 9am-10:30am
Where: Sippy Downs Campus, IC1.49A and via Zoom: https://usc-au.zoom.us/j/83298306374


This qualitative critical enquiry investigates the relationship and gaps between the aspirations of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in higher education (HE) and the reality of delivering successful ESD courses. To do this it draws on exemplars and data from around the world and asks the questions: Who teaches and learns ESD? What are common course qualities? and, What challenges its effectiveness? Working within a constructivist epistemology, this comparative case study draws on grounded theory and employs Inayatullah’s Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) (Inayatullah, 2004) to explore future implications based on the study’s findings.

This longitudinal study was conducted over five years and involved two groups of participants; 13 teaching participants and 737 student participants from six universities in five countries. Data was collected from eight sources: design/delivery participants’ surveys, sets of design/delivery participants’ learning materials, student surveys, one-on-one student interviews, student focus groups, student feedback on teaching instruments, student responses to pedagogy surveys and pre-and-post semester curricula surveys. The large data pool was analysed using thematic and comparative/descriptive analysis as applied to the research questions. Results are displayed using excel, Nvivo, spss and the researcher’s artistic ability. CLA is applied as a critical tool to distill insights from the research process in order to explore challenges and futures surrounding ESD. 

The study responds to the research questions pragmatically as well as penetratingly, meaning practical answers are derived based on participant responses regarding who teaches and learns and what is taught. However, analysis suggests there is an underlying pedagogy of passionate hope for sustainable futures rippling through ESD content and teaching qualities. The original contribution to knowledge lies in recommendations for optimising ESD course content and delivery and in articulating who teaches and learns ESD. Futures analysis provides insight into the realm of what ESD could look like moving forward in a positive direction towards holistic, integrated and sustainable futures or not. 

The dissertation is presented as a traditional PhD thesis.