Method-based higher education in sustainability: The potential of the scenario method

  • Beecroft R
  • Schmidt J
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Abstract

Both sustainability and education are challenging process-oriented objectives. When the aim is to combine both notions, as in Higher Education in Sustainability (HES), it is indispensable to first establish a common ground between them. In this paper, we characterise this common ground in terms of four aspects: future orientation, normativity, global perspective, and theory engaged in practice. Based on an analysis of the common ground, one method that is well-established in a wide range of sustainability sciences shows high potential for use in HES because it covers all four aspects in detail: the scenario method. We argue that a didactical reconstruction of the scenario method is necessary to utilise its potential and develop adequate forms of teaching in higher education. The scenario method is used to construct and analyse a set of alternative future developments to support decisions that have to be made in the present. Didactical reconstruction reveals a spectrum of objectives for which the scenario method can be employed: (1) projection; (2) teleological planning and (3) an explorative search for possibilities not yet considered. By studying and experimenting with this spectrum of objectives, students in HES can develop fundamental reflexive competencies in addressing the future in different ways that are relevant for both sustainability and education.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Didactical reconstruction
  • Didactics
  • Future orientation
  • Higher education
  • Methodology
  • Philosophy of education
  • Scenario method
  • Technology assessment

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Authors

  • Richard Beecroft

  • Jan C. Schmidt

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