Sustainable Societies in Africa: Modules on Education for Sustainable Development uses a learner-centered pedagogy and emphasizes application of what is learned and student initiative in all four parts of the course. The course is designed around the activities of the student and not the activities of the instructor. The student is expected to be an active learner both inside and outside the classroom.
In the classroom, the majority of the class time is spent in student discussions, presentations, and student assessments of the presentations. During class, it is the students who are expected to contribute the majority of information, not the instructors.
Three objectives of the course are to develop students’ analytical, critical-thinking, and leadership skills. With these objectives in mind, most of the activities in the classroom are designed so that students are responsible for both the quality of information presented in the discussions and for leadership in most of the activities. Leadership opportunities increase as the course progresses, building students’ confidence and skill.
Outside the classroom, students are expected to build their research skills by exploring the Part 2 issue materials and sustainability strategies on their own and supplementing course information by seeking out external information sources. Out-of-class assignments, and especially the final student project, reinforce this approach. Meanwhile, Part 2 provides more information about each of the issues than a student could digest during the course. This is done in order to allow the student to explore subjects of personal interest at greater depth.
The instructor’s role is in this course is to be the students’ guide and advisor. The instructor’s purpose is to lead the student to his or her own deeper understanding of the information and bring out and develop the student’s problem-solving and leadership skills.
After leading several activities early in the first part of the course, the instructor increasingly transfers leadership and responsibility for classroom discussions and presentations to the students.
Because of this role as guide and advisor, the instructor does not have to be an expert on the twenty-five sustainability issue areas examined in the course. Structured lesson plans and recommended activities provided in the Instructor’s Manual are designed to assist the instructor in this role. Every instructor, or instructors—if a team teaching approach is used—will have their personal subject areas of expertise. Such expertise can be used to strengthen the delivery of the course.