Skilling Educators for Sustainability Australia
Skilling Educators for Sustainability Australia (SESA), which began mid-2012, is a three-year project funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Industry.
The aim of the project is to enhance the skills and capability of trainers in water and waste industries to better support their colleagues in responding to the challenges of climate change and a low-carbon economy. The project will provide targeted professional training for those working in the field of sustainability education.
SESA is overseen by three professional associations: Australian Water Association, Waste Management Association of Australia and Australian Association for Environmental Education.
Research undertaken in late 2013 helped to further refine the project’s understanding of the sector’s professional development needs. A summary of findings includes:
- Training outcomes have shifted from ‘information’ to ‘transformation’, audience and topic diversity has increased: Trainers are now required to include a wider scope of sustainability topics. The level of training has shifted from information or awareness raising to transforming participant understanding and achieving behavior change.
- Marketing and engagement methods are critical to successful Education for Sustainability (EfS): Trainers reported the significant challenges they face in engaging their target audiences in sustainability issues. Research revealed that poor descriptors, the pitch of training and insufficient communication about professional development opportunities contributed to low uptake in the past.
- Trainers’ roles and background skills are extremely diverse, often without EfS training: Whilst many trainers have a deep understanding of sustainability issues they often do not have formal EfS or education qualifications.
- PD areas of most interest to trainers that relate to sustainability education were:
a. Building the business case for sustainability;
b. Sustainability issues and concepts related to their field;
c. Achieving action outcomes and behaviour change (including motivating people; identifying needs and structuring information for audiences; and community/business engagement skills);
d. Course and program evaluation techniques;
e. Critical and systems thinking;
f. Social media use and analysis.
- Trainers were also very interested in gaining skills in more generic areas of:
g. Technical skills and knowledge about waste/water;
h. Strategic planning and project management.
- The educational resources requested by trainers were:
i. Experiential learning activities (60%, 65)
j. Case studies (58%, 63)
k. Learning resources (53%, 58)
l. Practical trials (46%, 50)
m. Activities (44%, 48)
n. Field trips (44%, 48)
- Making personal connections through the learning process was highly valued: Trainers prefer face-to-face learning and are prepared to have this in combination with flexible online options so that people in disparate locations can participate. Peer-to-peer learning through networking and conference attendance is very important, as is the opportunity to be mentored by experts.
- Accreditation for training was important but not essential: Industry is more concerned with quality training that provides specific, meaningful knowledge and skills particular to trainers’ needs.
- Time, cost and gauging the value and relevance of training are the main barriers to uptake of professional development for both trainers and employers.
Read the report
The full report is now available SESA Alchemy Report Final 14Feb2014.