Development of a learning and teaching academic standards (LTAS) statement for environment and environmental sustainability

Project Team: Liam Phelan and Bonnie McBain (U of Newcastle), Paul Brown and Ros Taplin (UNSW), Val Brown (ANU), Iain Hay (Flinders U), Richard Horsfield (Macquarie U)

Funding: Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching - Innovation and Development Grant

Australian universities offer students more than 50 undergraduate and 150 postgraduate coursework programs that are highly diverse but with dominant or significant environment and sustainability elements, from which at least 2,600 students graduate annually. The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA), Australia's independent national regulator of the higher education sector, is looking to disciplinary communities to establish Threshold Standards of learning through consultative processes, so as to define minimum levels of student learning for higher education provision nationally. This project, endorsed by the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, will produce a Learning and Teaching Academic Standards (LTAS) Statement for environmental programs that complements other existing (and future) disciplinary LTAS Statements. The Environment and Environmental Sustainability LTAS Statement will co-apply with other disciplinary Statements (e.g. Geography, Science) for programs of study that lead to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework degrees with majors in the environment or sustainability field. The LTAS Statement will also serve as a reference for teaching of individual environmental units outside of environmental programs (e.g. a single unit in ‘Environmental Law’, ‘Mining Engineering’ or ‘Design for Sustainability’). Shared environmental and sustainability concerns are strongly evident across a wide range of disciplines including engineering, law, science, humanities and social science. Drawing on experiences of already-completed LTAS demonstration projects, this project entails an extensive consultative process through 2014 comprising open space fora, interviews and online engagement to (i) strengthen a common sense of community amongst scholars from diverse primary disciplinary backgrounds and (ii) generate broad support for the Environment and Environmental Sustainability LTAS Statement. The consultation process will itself serve as the key project dissemination strategy and allow for ongoing, formative evaluation. Further information about the project is available at: http://environmentltas.gradschool.edu.au/about/about-the-project/