Developing sixth form students understanding of the relationships between environment and development issues
The focus of the research for this thesis is the development of critical pedagogy for a greater understanding of environment/development issues among sixth form A Level geography students. The thesis first considers the concept of sustainable development which can provide a framework for supporting the close integration of environment and development issues. Caution is necessary, however, given the various interests it serves and resulting contradictions inherent in proposed radical change within traditional economic, social and political structures. Within this context student perceptions of environment/development issues were investigated using phenomenography as a methodology. However, a critique of the methodology was necessary, given contradictions in accepting multiple realities of phenomena based on conceptualisation through experience while also seeking a limited number of categories of description of phenomena. Out of the action research undertaken, a curriculum module based on critical pedagogy (influenced by critical theory) was developed to encourage critical thinking by students on a case study example of an environment/development issue. The research shows that the students could perceive environment/development issues as complex inter-related phenomena, but only to a limited extent did it enable them to be confident in challenging systems which perpetuate or exacerbate some of the problems related to the issues.