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Leading for sustainability: is surface understanding enough?

Pepper, C. and Wildy, H. (2008) Leading for sustainability: is surface understanding enough? Journal of Educational Administration, 46 (5). pp. 613-629.

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Purpose – This paper aims to report an investigation of how education for sustainability is conceptualised, incorporated across the curriculum and led in three Western Australian Government secondary schools. It also reports on processes to enable education for sustainability to become embedded into these schools.

Design/methodology/approach – Data for the research were gathered through semi-structured interviews with teachers who were reputedly leading education for sustainability.

Findings – With the exception of one participant, the concept of education for sustainability is not widely embraced in the schools of this study. Instead participants focus only on the environmental aspect of sustainability. Again, with the exception of one participant, education for sustainability remains fragmented and vulnerable to changing school conditions. Leadership of education for sustainability occurs whimsically and with little vision for the future across this study with little evidence of alliance building or collaboration among colleagues.

Originality/value – The paper concludes that leading for sustainability requires a combination of a deep knowledge of sustainability; forward thinking and the ability to imagine a different future; the interpersonal and networking skills to build strong relationships; and the energy and capability of taking action to achieve the imagined different future.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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