In Search of a Sustainable Future: An International Overview of the Contribution from Design and Technology Education

John Dakers, Louise Duvernet, Dov Kipperman, Kris Kumar, D John Martin, Kin Wai Michael Siu, Gisli Thorsteinsson, Malcolm Welch
2003, Vol. 8, No. 3,

Abstract


In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development developed a definition of sustainability that was included in its report Our Common Future. This report stated that sustainable development ‘meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs’ (Brundtland, 1987, p. 40). Five years later, in 1992, the UN General Assembly asked for a report on progress and convened the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992). The Rio Earth Summit declared that the right to development must be fulfilled in order to meet equitably developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the extent to which design and technology education curricula in eight countries are teaching students to take into account, when designing and making products and services, the needs of the present generation without compromising a sustainable future. Do curricula emphasise sustainability? How effectively is sustainability addressed in schools within design and technology education? The main body of the paper consists of contributions from the eight authors, who describe design and technology in their own country (or region) in terms of:

• its organisation;

• its core aims;

• the extent to which it encourages students to think about meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising a sustainable future;

• an example of good practice that relates design and technology education and sustainability and that could be adapted for use in other counties.

The reality is that internationally design and technology is diverse in all these aspects but, whether they have the backing of curriculum frameworks or not, design and technology educators in many countries are making significant efforts to help young people consider issues of sustainability when making decisions in the process of designing and making.


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