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Contributions to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

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Edited By Fernando J. Gonçalves, Ruth Pereira and Walter Leal Filho

This book presents essential learning approaches. It introduces educational and training activities, as well as various innovative methods aiming at the development of practical skills, in order to strengthen the continuous process of environmental education, and in particular the education for sustainable development (ESD). In doing so, it focuses on three dimensions (social, economic and environmental) as a means of achieving an effective change of behaviour and «tries to bridge the gap between science and environmental education by describing a set of projects, initiatives and field activities». A special emphasis is put on teacher training programmes, conception, and implementation, highlighting the problems and barriers, which prevent development as far as integration of sustainability issues in higher education is concerned.

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Chapter 1: The Need for Contributions to the Decade of Education for a Sustainable Future: an Ethical Commitment

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Chapter 1 The Need for Contributions to the Decade of Education for a Sustainable Future: an Ethical Commitment1 Amparo Vilches, Luís Marques, Daniel Gil-Pérez, João Praia Abstract Given the serious and urgent problems humanity is now facing, the United Na- tions General Assembly has adopted a resolution establishing a Decade of Edu- cation for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). This constitutes a new urgent call to educators of all levels and areas to contribute to citizens’ awareness and understanding of the state of the world in order to enable them to participate in well-founded decision-making. Our aim in this paper is to analyze the obstacles that could explain the poor response to previous calls, in order to overcome these obstacles and make it possible to assume an ethical commitment on behalf of the community of educators and researchers in science education. Introduction We will begin by recalling the surprise some of us experienced during the first Earth Summit, held in Rio in 1992, when the United Nations asked educators from all levels and subjects to contribute to citizens’ awareness and understand- ing of the current situation of planetary emergency in order to enable them to participate in well-founded decision-making. The use of the expression “plane- tary emergency” (Bybee 1991) gave the state of the world a dramatic overtone which we were not previously aware of. Our surprise grew when a rapid inquiry revealed that such calls to educators had been made repeatedly for quite some time: for instance, as...

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