Exploration of educational contributions to just and sustainable societies: Expanding the horizons of Master education at Daugavpils University

The highlight of the weekend of 23-24 March 2013 at Daugavpils University was first-year Master students of education (programme director ISE researcher Eridiana Oļehnoviča) having their second intensive learning session in the study course “Theoretical foundations of environmental and sustainable education” delivered by guest lecturer Dr Nick Clough from Bristol, UK. 

Dr Clough is a long-term partner of ISE. His ties to the institution date back to early 1990s when under the umbrella of Tempus project initiatives Dr Clough and ISE professor Ilga Salīte explored preferable pathways for the newly emerging national education system of Latvia and agreed on the promise of deep ecology and deep citizenship perspectives for enhancing teacher education in the Baltic region.  The seeds of this initial cooperation dropped in a fertile institutional soil and were carefully tended by a team of educationalists who later became the nucleus of ISE after its foundation in 2003. Such constant gardening bore fruit in the form of different projects such as Erasmus intensive programmes for intercultural and cooperative learning about sustainability related issues for bachelor and Master students. This line of cooperation between Dr Clough and ISE is still active with the latest intensive programme scheduled for June-July 2013.

In the academic year 2011/2012 an idea was born to create an opportunity for Master students of education at Daugavpils University to benefit from Dr Clough’s wealth of knowledge and experience accumulated over decades of inspired and tireless educational work all over the globe. This is the second year of having Dr Clough as a guest lecturer to Master students in the study course “Theoretical foundations of environmental and sustainable education”. The first session of the academic year 2012/2013 was held in December 2012.

Thematically, the second learning session of 2013 was focused on researching educational actions that contribute to just and sustainable societies. Dr Clough explains his methodological approach to the course which aims to help students become inquirers into sustainable ways of living, learning and working for a better future:

“It is very exciting to witness students applying their research skills to the field of educational contributions towards just and sustainable societies. They are using life story narrative approaches as well as narrative survey and reflective teaching methodologies to open up and portray the developing awareness by teachers and learners of their citizenship roles in shaping a better world. They are encouraged to use holistic, critical and transformative pedagogies as they explore hopeful pathways towards preferable futures.”

Reflection of the success of this approach is the shining-eyed enthusiasm of students who follow the course with eagerness and anticipation. ISE extends its warmest appreciation to Dr Clough for his educational contribution and hopes for many more fruitful years of cooperation in the future.