Abstract for: Using Systems Thinking, System Dynamics and Simulation for Sustainability Education: A Study Design

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is vital to the success of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is broad consensus that it requires active, participative and experiential learning methods, underpinned by systemic thinking. Goals for ESD include better critical thinking and an improved ability to analyse complex problems, to make judgements and decisions and to act accordingly. And yet, ESD has so far proved difficult to implement. This research describes an experimental approach to investigate whether ESD can be shown to benefit from Systems Thinking and System Dynamics simulation. It attempts to consolidate and build on the body of knowledge that has accumulated since the 1970s around modelling and simulation of complex human-environmental systems, and the use of such models to teach Systems Thinking and sustainability skills. This research is designed to investigate whether the application of Systems Thinking to a well-defined sustainability problem enhances the learner's practical understanding, whether interacting with model simulations also enhances it, whether applying both has the greatest effect, and whether they increase the transfer of skills to another sustainability problem in a different field, that has a similar systemic structure.