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Leading for sustainability

Pepper, Coral Mary (2007) Leading for sustainability. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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A short piece to prepare the way
(Sadie and Tyrrell, 2001)

Education for sustainability and educational leadership are the two faces to my research. Although there are differences between the concepts of environmental education and education for sustainability they are often confused. Environmental education deals with awareness raising and encouraging behaviour change to support environmental management and conservation. On the other hand, education for sustainability recognises the transformative role of education, while implicitly referring to intergenerational equity, ecological sustainability and the fair distribution of resources. The confusion is evident at the school level. Leadership is also a term fraught with confusion and misinterpretation. While there are many definitions of leadership, two common perspectives which have persisted over time are definitions of leadership as a matter of influence and of leadership as a skill. In educational terms sustainable leadership represents a shift to capture and merge contemporary leadership theory with the international pressure for sustainability through education.

There is a dearth of information available to describe education for sustainability despite recognition by both Australian and Western Australian governments of its importance in this, the early years of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). The aims of this qualitative research are to capture leaders' understanding of how education for sustainability is conceptualised, incorporated across the curriculum and led in Western Australian government secondary schools. In addition this study seeks to determine how education for sustainability becomes embedded and sustained in these schools.

The research re-conceptualises leading for sustainability. Four key concepts are identified as essential for embedding education for sustainability into Western Australian government secondary schools. These key concepts are: understanding sustainability; imagining the future; building relationships; and taking action. Combined, they enhance the meagre knowledge base about leading for sustainability in Western Australian secondary schools and provide a springboard for further research in the fields of sustainability and educational leadership.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Supervisor(s): Wildy, Helen and Styles, Irene
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