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Title: Researching and developing a humanities curriculum for sustainable development through activity theory
Author: Jones, Peter R
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 7954
Awarding Body: London South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 2014
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The local to global crisis facing society and the need for sustainable development has provided the impetus for this research study based on education for sustainable development (ESD). Education is often viewed as a tool for sustainable development. However, at present, it arguably reinforces inequalities and unsustainable development. This research study therefore seeks to help analyse and address this paradox in education. It focuses on the research and development of a humanities curriculum for sustainable development in a secondary school in London. It follows the journey of a group of teachers who try and bring about change through the curriculum and explores and examines the opportunities, challenges and outcomes of the curriculum activity. The main theoretical framework used in this research study is Activity Theory. This study argues that Activity Theory, based on the Vygotskian concept of unity between consciousness and activity, shares many philosophical underpinnings with education for sustainable development. The study argues that Activity Theory's expansive and holistic qualities mean that it not only has the potential to act as an effective tool to analyse the curriculum activity system but also the potential to act as a tool for learning and change. The main methodology used for the research study was loosely based on development work research (DWR). DWR applies Activity Theory in a practical and participatory manner. DWR allowed for the teachers involved in this research activity to act as research participants, with myself as the main facilitator of the change process. Through the DWR sessions the teachers were able to critically discuss research findings, examine contradictions and tensions within and beyond the curriculum activity system and identify tools that may mediate and reorientate the curriculum towards sustainable development. 14 Overall, this study shows that Activity Theory and the DWR sessions did provide an effective means to research and develop a humanities CSD. They enabled the teachers and myself to deconstruct the humanities curriculum activity system and expand this system so it became more orientated towards sustainable development. It is hoped that this research study has not only led to positive change within the local empirical field but also contributed to the more general theoretical field. The wider implication of the study suggests that greater links between ESD and AT can be of mutual benefit to each field. ESD and SD can provide the rationale for AT and help AT move more closely back to its Marxist roots, while AT has the potential to strengthen the theoretical underpinnings of ESD and act as a vehicle for change.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education for sustainable development, ESD