Towards transformative learning methods for interdisciplinary postgraduate education for sustainable development (ESD): a case study

David Grierson, Karen Munro

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This paper explores the relationship between education for sustainable development (ESD) and interdisciplinarity in the context of architecture and engineering higher education, presenting a case study of the University of Strathclyde Glasgow's Sustainable Engineering (SE) postgraduate programme, within the wider context of common principles and practices present across HEIs. The paper - one of a series - offers an overview of the SE programme between 2004 and 2015 (coinciding with UNDESD) and discusses its growing focus on interdisciplinarity and the introduction of transformative learning methods over the study period. The study uses a methodology of statistical analysis of enrolment and graduation trends on the SE programme alongside a
discursive analysis of course and module provision specific to learning methods for ESD and interdisciplinarity. The study finds that, within the SE programme, both the courses and modules that have an SD focus exhibit the greatest longevity over the study period and are selected by students significantly more often than other courses and modules. The finding supports previous studies that report an increased appetite for such courses and classes. The learning methods employed on the modules align with those considered exemplary in the literature surrounding ESD, and demonstrate the programme's aspirations towards increased interdisciplinarity in postgraduate ESD. The paper provides
insight into the practices and outcomes of a specific longstanding programme, offering opportunity for reflection, discussion and comparison with similar programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-227
Number of pages19
JournalArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2018


  • education
  • sustainable development
  • built environment
  • university teaching
  • interdisciplinarity


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