Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit




EDST401 Educating a Sustainable Future

Unit rationale, description and aim

Education has a crucial role to play in empowering people to participate in working for a sustainable future.

In this unit, pre–service teachers will be deeply engaged in three contrasting areas of primary science education which together provide them with knowledge and understanding about science and its pedagogy in educating for sustainable futures. This unit contributes to the recognition of a teacher’s responsibility to the common good, the environment and society.

The aim of this unit is to assist pre–service teachers to develop the values, knowledge, and skills to realise the principles and practices of ecological sustainable development in their professional and personal life, in the workplace and in the wider community through a consideration of real alternatives to our current unsustainable way of life.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1   recognise common elements in concepts that underpin sustainability (GA2, GA4; APST 2.1)

LO2   Explain how changes in ecosystems impact sustainability (GA2, GA4, GA5; APST 2.1)

LO3   Illustrate historical and current factors that have resulted in unsustainable practices at individual, community, national and global levels (GA1, GA2, GA4; APST 2.1, 2.4)

LO4   analyse traditional Indigenous practices to highlight their sustainability (GA1, GA4, GA8; APST 2.1, 2.4) 

LO5   investigate key concepts of children’s learning about sustainability and create appropriate learning sequences for educating for sustainability (GA5, GA8; APST 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2, 3.3).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.2 Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.

2.3 Use curriculum, assessment and reporting knowledge to design learning sequences and lesson plans.

2.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of, and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

3.2 Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.

3.3 Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.4 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

7.4 Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.


Topics will include:

  • Humans and the natural environment: history of our pathway to unsustainable societies through energy and resource use; paradigms underpinning unsustainable growth
  • Sustainable living: what it means/represents, and how it can be achieved
  • Resources for environmental education from: federal and state/territory government documents, non-government organisations (NGO), people in the community, texts, children’s books, journals, magazines, videos, excursion venues, and environmental projects
  • Children’s learning about, in and for the environment; strategies for helping children understand, appreciate and care for their natural environment through teaching strategies such as games and simulations, inquiry approaches, questioning, role plays, debates, investigations, problem posing and solving, cooperative group work, values clarification, outdoor education
  • Understanding ecosystems and their degradation including examples of different ecosystems, climate change, waste, pollution, soil erosion, and loss of biodiversity.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester.

In line with social constructivist principles, this unit is premised on the understanding that teaching and learning activities should build on prior knowledge, connect with the learner’s needs and interests, and encourage active participation.

Teaching and learning activities will build from the prior knowledge that pre-service teachers have about key science concepts associated with sustainability. Many of these conceptions will not align with current scientific understanding, in which case learning and teaching strategies will create learning environments which allow pre-service teachers to reconstruct their knowledge to better align with modern scientific understanding.

Tutorials/ laboratory workshops etc will emphasise a hands-on approach, requiring active participation from pre-service teachers, to develop their content knowledge base.

Because of the real-world aspect of this unit, real-world activities should be given priority where possible. This can be created through audits of individual and community sustainable practices or by visiting sustainability-based excursions sites; visiting local classrooms with exemplary sustainability practices; meeting local community environmental groups etc.

These first-hand teaching and learning experiences will support knowledge development in sustainability for education. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In line with the principles of constructive alignment, assessment tasks allow students to show that they have achieved the Learning Outcomes. These assessment tasks have been designed to align with the LO so that, in achieving the minimal standard of these tasks, pre-service teachers will have met the required learning outcomes of the unit.

In line with andragogical principles, assessment tasks should be authentic, real world tasks. Undertaking a virtual excursion ensures pre-service teachers are applying their knowledge to a real-world setting. Analysing Indigenous practices ensures that pre-service teachers can bring that information into their science teaching across a variety of discipline areas eg science and HASS. Creating a learning sequence that focuses on education for sustainability provides pre-service teachers is an authentic experience that mirrors the work of practicing teachers.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks and achieve a pass grade in each.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Virtual Excursion

A “virtual excursion” aimed at an adult audience to a local ecosystem which showcases human’s impact on that ecosystem (positive or negative) and understandings of the concepts underpinning notions of sustainability.

The virtual excursion will be accompanied by a report which details possible historical or current factors which have created the current ecosystem.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 2: Report

A report which analyses and evaluates the sustainability of a number of traditional Indigenous practices



GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 3: Unit Plan

Develop a unit plan for teaching and learning an EfS topic using hands-on, authentic investigations



GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Australian Curriculum: Science

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Australian Curriculum: sustainability:

Recommended references

Assadourian, E. Y. (2010). State of the World 2010: Transforming cultures: From consumerism to sustainability. The Worldwatch Institute.

Chiras, D. (2005). EcoKids: Raising children who care for the earth. Canada: New Society Publishers.

Flannery, T. (2005). The weather makers. Melbourne, Vic: Text Publishing

Hicks, D. (2006). Lessons for the future: The missing dimension in education. Victoria BC: Trafford Publishing.

Louv, R. (2005). The last child in the woods. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.

Maclaurin, J. & Stereing, K. (2008). What is biodiversity? Chicago: University of Chicago press (MK)

Rogers, E. (2007). The green book: The everyday guide to saving the planet one simple step at a time Mississauga: Random House of Canada.

Smith , C. & Dawborn, K. (2011). Permaculture pioneers: Stories from the new frontier. Daylesford, Vic: Holmgren Design Service.

Suzuki, D. (2010). The legacy. An elder’s vision for our sustainable future, Crow’s Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

Yencken, D. & Wilkinson, D. (2000). Resetting the compass: Australia’s journey towards sustainability. Collingwood, Vic: CSIRO Publishing.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs