International Journal of Art & Design Education

Preparing British Design Undergraduates for the Challenge of Sustainable Development

Volume 19.2   2000



The first part of this paper argues that higher education (HE) institutions have an obligation to nurture sustainable development awareness. This is viewed against the UK Government’s recommendation and guidance on sustainable development education. In particular, this focuses on the Government’s sustainable development education specification for design education and the challenge this poses to UK tertiary design education. The concluding part of this paper discusses the emergence of new design dialogues, which are grappling with the task of synthesising the precepts of sustainable development with the ‘act of designing’. This has led to discourse on the need for defining viable strategies that invent new forms of design education and practice and for the provision of new professional choices to students. This paper takes into account the evolution of language in this educational subject area, from ‘environmental education’, to ‘environment and development education’, to ‘education or learning for sustainability’. The desired outcome of learning for sustainability is often expressed as ‘responsible global citizenship’. At the moment some of these terms are interchangeable. For my purposes, the term ‘sustainable development education’ will be used though out, unless for historical accuracy or specific reasons.