Integrating Sustainability into Teaching and Research at the University of the South Pacific to Enhance Capacity for the Sustainable Development of Pacific Island Countries
Kanayathu C. Koshy, Aliti Koroi, Neil Netaf and Cresantia Koya-Vaka'uta
DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2011.6.12
Journal of Social Sciences
Volume 7, 2011
Problem statement: Pacific Island countries have been recognised globally as a ‘special case for environment and Sustainable Development (SD)’ because of their extreme vulnerability to a host of both external and internal development challenges such as: Narrow range of resources, high population density, limited export volume, impacts of climate change and natural disasters, trade, ICT and globalisation pressures. As part of their strategic approach to address these threats, the island countries have become party to a number of international and regional multi-lateral agreements. However, there are severe capacity constraints, at all levels-individual, institutional and systemic-to the full-scale implementation of these agreements. Part of the problem is that the educational system in general and in particular the higher educational institutions have not yet mainstreamed sustainability into their curriculum. Thus there is a ‘campus-workplace’ mismatch for SD implementation that needs to be addressed urgently. Approach: This study addresses how the University of the South Pacific (USP) and two other Pacific universities in the Pacific island region have been addressing these capacity issues using a ‘logical framework approach’ for the development and implementation of two on-going, multidisciplinary ESD projects. The first is a USP project, funded by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU-USP), the second may be seen as a much broader extension of the ACCU-USP project, in the form of a networked initiative involving USP, UPNG and NUS. Results: Within the limitations discussed elsewhere (ibid), the ACCU-USP and EDULINK-NIU (NIU: network of island universities) projects are progressing well in establishing institutional structures for the promotion of ESD, developing new courses and resource materials, establishing new postgraduate programmes, enhancing community capacity to manage natural resources sustainably and contributing substantially to regional integration. In addition, these projects play a key role in the promotion of the Pacific ESD Framework (2006) and the Pacific ESD Action Plan (2007), both endorsed by the Pacific Education Ministers. Conclusion: The ACCU-USP and EDULINK-NIU projects attempt to strike a balance between the need for SD capacity building to be multidisciplinary and problem oriented by design and maintaining the status quo that favors discipline based structuring of knowledge creation and dissemination. While the renewed commitment of USP, UPNG and NUS to reorient their curriculum, research and outreaches to meet the sustainability capacity needs is beginning to bear fruit, the lack of long-term funding and the low level of awareness on sustainability may hamper progress.
© 2011 Kanayathu C. Koshy, Aliti Koroi, Neil Netaf and Cresantia Koya-Vaka'uta. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.