Future professionals will bear the brunt of creating sustainable societies. Equipping them for the task is the challenge of current educators. Educational experiences facilitating the development of sustainable habits of mind are needed. This research reports on the experiences of developing scientists and engineers engaged in a sustainable energy research program. Its focus is the learners’ changing conceptions about sustainability and their role in creating sustainable societies. It is an exploratory, multi-strand, case-oriented study, utilizing mixed methods to analyze qualitative and quantitative data. The research was grounded in the literature of education for sustainability and situated learning in communities, highlighting the common threads supporting the development of a new generation of scientists and engineers with sustainable mindsets. Findings indicated learners’ concepts of sustainability were broadened from narrow, discipline-specific definitions to an understanding of sustainability as a multidisciplinary field. Learners’ developing identities from budding scientists and engineers to citizens invested in and capable of creating sustainable societies is discussed. The development of learning communities was an integral mechanism for facilitating perspective changes; however, field trips and seminars focused on exploring sustainability were identified as key influences in developing multifaceted and more complex conceptions of sustainability.
Research Professor on society, culture, art, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, neuroscience, autopoiesis, self-organization, complexity, systems, networks, rhizomes, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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