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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Activity Ten; Sustainability

The Otago Polytechnic sustainability vision is that our graduates, our practitioners and our academics understand the concepts of social, environmental and economic sustainability in order for them to evaluate, question and discuss their role in the world and to enable them to make changes where and when appropriate.  Our goal is that every graduate may think and act as a “sustainable practitioner”. 
Education for Sustainability at Otago Polytechnic

Sir Ken Robinson said in his 'Are school's killing creativity' speech ,' that children starting school now (2007) will be retiring in the year 2065 and we have no idea what sort of a World that will be, and how do we equip them with the skills to be able to deal with that World?  The speed with which technology is advancing makes me feel that the World is on fast forward mode all the time and that advances in education, knowledge and intellect does not necessarily mean improvements in the way decisions are made regarding the sustainability of our Planet. We have not learn't by our mistakes and sustainability globally for our children means trying to give them practical skills to survive!!!

How can I become a more sustainable practitioner? (Me)

  • Analysing the workload and spreading it out
  • Providing study skills
  • Offering support networks within the programme
  • Offering on-line readings and opportunity to email assignments
  • Marking on-line
  • Being aware of students outside influences
  • Having a life and trying to get lots of sleep

Firstly, I wanted to look at the Tourism Industry (the sector) that we are educating our students to enter.  It, like so many other sectors has been profoundly and massively affected by the growth of the Internet, which in turn has an affect on the way the our Tourism programme is designed, implemented and facilitated.  The Travel Agent's role, for example, has changed considerably and will continue to evolve possibly into more on-line or phone interactions rather than the traditional face to face encounters.  
The Tourism Industry has a foundation in relying on being sustainable particularly ecological and adventure tourism, without some sustainability processes in place these sectors would not exist.    

So what are we equipping our students for?

Taking many of these factors into consideration the courses have been embedded with opportunities for discussion, opportunity and demonstrations of sustainability, locally, nationally and globally.  Trying to provide 'authentic participation in the study of local issues'

  • What sort of learning and teaching strategies meet your philosophy of sustainability?
A quote from the Commission on Education and Communication, IUCN, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK, sums my philosophy up well;
'a focus on developing environmental thoughtfulness, a commitment to the ethic of human interdependence with nature and each other, and a sense of collective responsibility for community development.'



  1. Good to see your analysis Helen. How do you think that your list is going to contribute to sustainability? For example, why is the provision of study skills going to be sustainable for your students?

    You may also like to consider the benefits of collaborating with others, and in encouraging collaboration in your students. How could this make you a more sustainable practitioner, and your students prepare to be the same? How are you preparing your students to keep up with changing tourism environment, e.g., using different technologies ot communicate?

  2. Providing a strong foundation in learning how to study will help them plan their time, not get too stressed and therefore complete their courses and not drop out. Collaborating and the sharing of ideas forms the basis of their Conference and Events Paper. Introducing them to new technology and ways of communicating will help them to move with the changing tourism environment.