Study Sustainability and the SDGs

Western is committed to transformative teaching on the SDGs Education for Sustainability (EfS) puts emphasis on the necessary interrelationships between theory and practice; local and global scales and present and future and thus has a global citizenship component that requires a critical evaluation of environment and social justice issues. At Western students from all discplines can undertake a degree specialisations (sub-majors or majors) that support transformative teaching for the SDGs. These include:

EfS Learning Concepts

Based on Bawden (2005) and Sterling (2012) work, EfS learning concepts are understood on the basis that sustainability is not a state nor an end point but a practice and an ethic:

  • Different frameworks for knowing: Being able to learn and question prevailing  epistemic (worldview) beliefs and value assumptions:
  • Interdependence: of society, economy, and the natural environment, from local to global scales;
  • Citizenship and stewardship: rights and responsibilities, participation and co-operation;
  • Needs and rights of future generations;
  • Diversity: the importance of cultural, social, economic and biological variety;
  • Quality of life, equity and justice;
  • Sustainability and change: development and carrying capacity; and
  • Uncertainty and precaution in action.

The above degree specialisations meet our Education for Sustainability (EfS) learning concepts. Do you teach or study in a specilisation that you think meets these EfS learning concepts? Nominate it!

Incorporating the SDGs into your teaching

EfS can be incorporated into the WSU curriculum at different levels:

  • Entire programs, specialisations including majors and sub-majors
  • Whole units being designated for discipline specific or generic sustainability literacies ;
  • ESD components incorporated into units as case studies, assessments, experiential projects, project and problem based learning and
  • WIL placements that include sustainability focus such as use of the campus and region as a “living laboratory”.


Sustainability is a contested term with a long and complicated trajectory. United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Sustainable development is seen as ‘not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs.’ (Brutland, 1987: Clause 3.30). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all 194 United Nations Member States in 2015, identifies 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries in a global partnership. At Western we acknowledge that sustainability definitions are diverse and contestable.