Murray P E, Brown N, Murray S: Deconstructing Sustainability Literacy: The Cornerstone of Education for Sustainability? The Role of Values.
The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability 2(7): 83-92, 2002.
Abstract: Sustainability literacy is a concept that underpins a model of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) being developed by the newly created UK Centre for Sustainable Futures, which commenced full operations in autumn 2005, following an award totalling £4.5 million from the UK government. The vision of this pan-discipline organisation is to ensure students in Higher Education become ‘sustainability literate’ by acquiring “the knowledge, skills, and values, which will assist them in living and working sustainably” (Dyer & Selby 2004). The centre has adopted a definition where a sustainability literate person is viewed as someone who combines an understanding of the need for change with appropriate knowledge and skills, and is able to recognise and reward sustainable actions in others. Sustainability literacy is seen by its proponents as important for employability, effective professionalism, economic performance and social wellbeing.
The term sustainability literacy is often viewed in the context of the relevant knowledge and skills sets needed to create sustainability literate graduates. However, this analysis may underplay the significant role of an individual’s personal values and beliefs in influencing the motivation to behave sustainably. Without a sense of personal ownership/connection to sustainability issues, those hard-won knowledge and skill sets may not be fully brought to bear, either in the workplace or in private life. The potential of applied psychology approaches such as Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is explored in relation to helping individuals elicit their values and beliefs relating to their ‘worldview’ (attitude to self, family, friends, colleagues and wider/global communities). One NLP technique to help individuals reflect deeply on situations and relationships, and that has yielded promising results, is called ‘Perceptual Positions’. This approach has been adapted and piloted for use in individual and group workshops to help participants access personal beliefs and values in relation to sustainability.