Wednesday, 7 December, 2022 - 17:00

DERC webinar: We can do this! Education for survival

Part of the webinar series of ANGEL partner organisation the Development Education Research Centre, this webinar - a partnership event with the UCL Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education - aims to reflect the substantial activity around the UK on Education for Sustainability, as well as to build awareness, and foreground critiques and analysis of current and proposed approaches to this crucial and challenging topic in the UK and elsewhere.

To this end, the partners have invited prominent UK-based sustainability education experts Stephen Scoffham and Steve Rawlinson to deliver a short presentation that references their recent publication on the topic, after which UCL specialist academics will provide a response and critique.



In the UK last year, around half a million young people aged 5-18 across every age and social group responded to the Big Ask in one of the biggest surveys of its kind. The two concerns which emerged as top priorities were (a) mental health and well-being and (b) the protection of the environment. Sustainability education has the potential to address both these concerns. It shifts the focus from the acquisition of knowledge towards a much deeper level of learning in which pupils question their desires and their relationship with the planet. Gert Biesta calls this process ‘subjectification’ and he argues that, rather than being taught, it is a mindset that needs to be aroused. Such an approach has deep implications for the way that Teacher Education is conceived and delivered.

Teaching about sustainability and environmental issues has never been more important but it can be daunting. How can it best be organised and what does it mean to be sustainability literate? Drawing on theory, research and professional wisdom, this presentation will focus on ideas outlined by Stephen Scoffham and Steve Rawlinson in their acclaimed new book Sustainability Education: A Classroom Guide (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022). The potential to create a progressive framework of themes and topics along with the importance of deeper questions about purpose and meaning of education will be highlighted. Links to the Earth Charter and UN Sustainable Development Goals will also be explored. Sustainability education represents a new way of thinking about the world and our place within it which is of crucial contemporary relevance. This creates uncertainties, but it is precisely because the goalposts are constantly moving that introducing sustainability in all types of educational settings is such an important and exciting endeavour.



This event is to be hosted via Zoom. Registered participants will be emailed a link in the days before the event, and also 30 minutes before as a reminder. The event will be Chaired by Douglas Bourn, Professor of Development Education at IOE and Director of DERC. After the main presentation, CCCSE Research Lead Dr. Lizzie Rushton will offer a brief response. Time after the presentations will be given over to a Q&A and participants will have a chance to register questions for the speakers.


Intended audience

Teachers and teacher educators of all age phases, researchers, policy makers, school/academy leaders and governors. This event focuses chiefly on the UK, but international parallels will be discussed.




Speaker biographies

Dr Stephen Scoffham is a Visiting Reader in Sustainability and Education at Canterbury Christ University, UK and was Geographical Association President (2018-19). An established educational author and atlas consultant, Stephen has written widely on primary geography, global learning and environmental education.

Steve Rawlinson has over two decades of experience as a Principal Lecturer in Geography Education at Northumbria University and was Geographical Association President (2015-16). One of the convenors the annual Charney Manor Primary Geography Research Conference, since 2009 Steve has also chaired the Editorial Board producing the journal Primary Geography for the Geographical Association.



Dr Lizzie Rushton is Associate Professor of Education and Head of Department of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment in IOE, as well as the Research Lead for UCL’s Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education. As a former secondary school geography teacher and geography teacher educator, Lizzie’s research is rooted in classroom practice. Recent work in climate change and sustainability education includes co-leading the BERA manifesto for Education for Environmental Sustainability, co-created by over 200 teachers, young people and teacher educators from across the UK.



Douglas Bourn is Professor of Development Education at UCL Institute of Education and Co-Director of the Development Education Research Centre. He is the author of Theory and Practice of Development Education (2014) and Understanding Global Skills (2018) and editor of the Bloomsbury Handbook of Global Education and Learning (2020).


Event partners


UCL Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education

An important new Centre within IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education & Society, the UCL Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education leads research into climate change and sustainability education which shapes the development of outstanding, free professional development for all teachers and school leaders.


Development Education Research Centre

The Development Education Research Centre (DERC) acts as the hub for knowledge generation, new thinking, quality output and teaching on development education, global learning, education for sustainable development and global citizenship.

As part of its mission to provide learning and networking opportunities for professionals and students of development education, global learning and global citizenship, the Development Education Research Centre runs an ongoing seminar series. Events are currently mainly held online and are free and open to staff, students, alumni and the public. All are welcome to attend. You can view details of previous seminars, including some videos, here.

ANGEL Network,
Development Education Research Centre (DERC)
UCL Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

Partner organisations

Carousel image attribution: "panoramio (2525)" by William “Patrick” Ma. Under CC 3.0

The establishment of this network and website has been made possible with funding support from the European Commission.
The activities and publications of the network are the responsibilities of the organisers, the Development Education Research Centre, and can in no way be seen as reflecting the views of the European Commission.