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An integrated approach to environmental education: a case study
¨ hr-Swart Nicolaas P. du Preez and Maryna Mo
Technikon Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Keywords Curriculum development, Environment, Innovation, Partnership, Sustainable development Abstract In 1994, the Executive Management Committee (EMC) of Technikon Pretoria took a strategic decision to develop educational programmes in environmental management and sustainable development. The EMC also decided to integrate these programmes with the development and implementation of an environmental management policy for Technikon Pretoria. This paper describes, in the form of a case study, the project embarked upon, which brings together the development and implementation of the curriculum, research and development, management processes for sustainability, community service and national and international cooperation. The paper discusses successes and failures, and the significant lessons that could be learnt from the experience.

Environmental education

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Introduction In 1994 the Executive Management Committee (EMC) of Technikon Pretoria took a strategic decision to develop educational programmes in environmental management and sustainable development. The EMC also decided to use an integrated approach, including the development and implementation of an environmental management policy for Technikon Pretoria. This paper describes, in the form of a case study, the project we embarked on, which integrates development and implementation of the curriculum, research and development, management processes for sustainability, community service and national and international cooperation. This paper details our successes and failures, and the significant lessons that could be learnt from our experience. The first step in the process was the appointment of a project leader. Although the Technikon was already offering programmes in environmental health and nature conservation, it was decided to appoint a person from outside the Technikon. In retrospect, this was a wise decision. It was also important to appoint someone who had a passion for sustainable development and the environment. This appointment illustrated two important management principles. The first is the importance of technological gatekeeping (Maidique, 1982; Rhoades ¨ nden, 1988; Burgelman and Sayles, 1986; Utterback, 1982), et al., 1978; Gemu which shows that many innovations in an organisation have their origins outside the organisation or are brought into an organisation through new

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education Vol. 5 No. 1, 2004 pp. 11-20 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1467-6370 DOI 10.1108/14676370410512562

1991. 1982. state and semi-state organisations.. 1989. 1990. Bryce. 1992. environmental management consultants. Shell and Mondi Paper. Shibouta and Mori. a powerful association comprising some of the top companies in South Africa. Stead and Stead. Adams. Curriculum development The curriculum in environmental management was developed from October 1994 to August 1995. more than 40 organisations and stakeholders were visited. Most environmental practitioners had a background in natural sciences or engineering. 1992. The Economist. some universities were already offering a Master’s degree in environmental management with entry requirements rooted mainly in the natural sciences. The second principle is the importance of a product champion for the success of product development and innovation (Maidique.. Carson and Moulden. 1990. Guogang et al. 1988). as well as preliminary discussions with prominent experts in the field of environmental management. 1990. 1982. 1982. Schlossberg. 1988). Elmer-Dewitt et al. Quinn. Sasol. 1991. environmental technicians. but there were also practitioners with nursing or other health-related backgrounds. Sappi. Discussions with the Industrial Environmental Forum. and the profile of environmental managers in industry. Choucri. the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). 1990). The one case that failed miserably did not have a project leader. Iscor. 1991. Dilts and Prough. At that time. 1990. . Nissan SA. valuable information was gathered regarding employment opportunities in the market. Morison. 1991. Hobbs and Boland. Samancor. The survey also found that approximately 60 employment opportunities per year were becoming available in South Africa.IJSHE 5. Cocklin. 1990. The process started in October 1994 with an extensive literature study (Cairncross. including City Councils. 1990. Gencor. Peters. Bowman and Davis. 1993. Rubin et al. From this study. Pick ‘n Pay. 1991. environmental auditors and environmental impact experts. 1989. Shearman. 1988. Transvaal Sugar Limited. 1990. Lethabo Power Station and the Atomic Energy Board. b. Hunt and Auster. During 1999 and 2000. Rolfes.1 12 appointments (Utterback. Marquis. 1991. Black. 1998. and in all those cases except one. During this process. Morison. Foy. Eskom. Technikon Pretoria developed more than 20 new degree programmes. a number of disciplines were identified to form a possible core for the curriculum. there were passionate and committed product champions. During the latter part of 1994 and early in 1995. Sentrachem. Harrison. as part of a research project. It was the first curriculum in South Africa to include an undergraduate qualification. covering corporate environmental managers. The group included private companies such as Agricura. to develop the curriculum. also played a significant role in the development of the curriculum. 1988. Adriaanse and Jettes. 1989.. 1992a. 1991. Discussions were also conducted with the Department of Environmental Affairs and other parastatals.

More specific environmental aspects include life-cycle analysis. From curriculum development to implementation Technikon programmes are national programmes and are cooperatively “curriculated” (Technikon Pretoria Press. and no longer in environmental management. Auxiliary subjects such as communication skills. Environmental ecology I. Environmental management I. Billiton. The qualifications are now awarded in environmental sciences. the curriculum has been adapted to reflect trends in the external environment.The curriculum that was finally approved by the Advisory Committee for Universities and Technikons (AUT) comprised the following subjects: . environmental quality. recycling techniques. waste management. production management. finance. Students would have to select one of the following subjects: international trade. students would do six months’ experiential training in industry. Chemistry I. marketing and environmental rehabilitation. Iscor. and strategic management from an environmental perspective. environmental impact analysis and sustainable development. Agrihold and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Technikon Pretoria appointed an advisory committee to ensure that the standards and quality of our programmes are in line with the expectations of industry. III and IV. The following companies and other stakeholders had representatives on the first advisory committee: Eskom. environmental geology and entrepreneurial skills. The Baccalaureus Technologiae (BTech) degree included. . II. statistics. The environmental Environmental education 13 . These subjects cover topics such as industrial ecology. environmental legislation. . In 1995. III and IV. microbiology. Ingwe Coal Mine. . Nissan SA. II. II and III. environmental health and sustainable resource management. 1995). with the emphasis in the second and third years on environmental chemistry. general ecology. In the final year of the National Diploma. computer skills. Over the years. over and above environmental management IV and environmental ecology IV. The development and adaptation of the curriculum over the past eight years has re-emphasised the crucial role of industry and other stakeholders in this process. environmental biotechnology. marketing. production management. These subjects include introductory management aspects such as public relations. a compulsory research methodology course and an environmental technology project. human resources management. organisational behaviour. climatic studies. risk management. environmental audits. ecotourism. while an option in environmental geology has been introduced.

The curriculum was finally approved at the August 1995 meeting of the CTM. and the two programmes’ . In September 1995. at others by their environmental health departments. the Advisory Committee for Universities and Technikons finally approved new qualifications. a powerful body which was a strong supporter of the new programme.The period after the February meeting was used to seek support for the new degree. the industries in which the students were going to work. in February 1995.IJSHE 5. The argument of the NEHF was that there was too much overlap between the two degrees and that a new process of “curriculation” should be undertaken. our elation was short-lived. more than 90 percent of the technikons supported the new programme. Meetings were held with the technikons that had rejected the proposed programme. Many hours of hard work had finally came to fruition and the attention was now focused on the planning and preparation for the first intake of students in January 1996. and soon afterwards permission to offer the programme at Technikon Pretoria was obtained from the Department of Education. with the emphasis on environmental health. By June 1995. the deputy vice-chancellor (academic) of Technikon Pretoria was summoned to attend a meeting of the National Environmental Health Forum (NEHF) in Cape Town. or Academic Committee of the Technikons. In October 1995. It was clear that they would be satisfied with a single curriculum for the first three years. The major reason was that the concept was so new in South Africa that there was no one with real expertise at other technikons to evaluate the content. a special marketing campaign was launched to attract the right calibre of students for the new programme. A further hurdle However. It was opposed by the environmental health departments and seen as a threat to the degrees in environmental health being offered by a number of technikons in South Africa. At the meeting in Cape Town.1 14 management curriculum was submitted for approval at a meeting of the Committee for Tutorial Matters (CTM). Technikon Pretoria maintained that there were sufficient differences between the two curricula. as regards their stakeholders. the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Industrial Environmental Forum (IEF). it was evaluated by staff in the civil engineering departments. the careers for which the students were being educated. with only one still opposing it. Since it was already late in the year. However. At some technikons. The NEFH is an association of stakeholders who act as a national advisory body to the environmental health degree. with officials from the Department of Education. based on the notion of “sufficient consensus” in the policy of the technikons regarding the introduction of new programmes or qualifications. and an elective in the final (fourth) year that could relate to environmental management. the new degree was rejected by the CTM.

At that point. planning and organising. only the project leader and the supporter in the EMC – the deputy vice-chancellor (academic) – was involved in the process of curriculation. The newly created department was first offered to the faculty of economic sciences. A number of smaller projects were handled during the latter part of the 1990s. an interesting debate started on the placing of the department within the faculty structure of the Technikon. The success of the department over the last eight years can be directly ascribed to: . payable over three years. the first Magister Technologiae degree in environmental management was awarded. The BTech programme was first offered in 1996 and the first intake of students received their National Diplomas (a three-year qualification) at the graduation ceremony in 1999. It was clear to the delegation from Technikon Pretoria that the NEHF was not convinced. and on liaison with industry and other stakeholders. and the request was granted. The latter formed part of the curriculum of the department of nature conservation within the faculty of agriculture and nature conservation. . and the remaining third natural resources. both the Senate and the Council of Technikon Pretoria approved the creation of an academic department for environmental management. An analysis of the curriculum revealed that approximately one third concerned economic management. a business innovator (Maidique. . It was agreed that further discussions should be arranged in 1996. that is. In 1997. Up to the end of 1995. . the presence of a product champion. one-third natural sciences. on the marketing of the programme both within the Technikon and externally. Part of the donation was used to obtain Technology and Human Resource for Industry Programme (THRIP) funding for the development of an environmental management system (EMS) at one of the plants of the donor. Environmental education 15 Research and development During the early stages. Late in 1995. a staunch supporter with a passion for the environment in the EMC of the Technikon. emphasis was placed on teaching and learning. the acceptance of the newly created department in the Faculty of Natural Sciences and the strong support of the Dean of that faculty. a substantial donation was received from an industrial donor. Research was limited to industrial projects. Then the dean of natural sciences requested that the department should be located in his faculty. In 2002. which did not want to accommodate it. specifically for postgraduate students.objectives. 1982).

land use and water quality. Zambia. Germany. The BTU offers an international environmental resource and management programme. Proposed themes and projects within the department are geo-technology. A cooperation programme was entered into with the Brandenburg Technological University (BTU) in Germany. waste management. Egypt. Argentina and Poland. environmental sciences and environmental health. Other countries that participated were Poland. water care. which has proved to be active and successful. In 1999. International liaison In 1999. Good cooperation also exists between our department and the Hoogeschool Ijselland in The Netherlands. information and knowledge pertaining to the study fields concerned. Some of the countries represented were New Zealand. as well as developing an integrated approach in environmental sciences and environmental management. to establish a student exchange programme. Ethiopia. University of Lund. Jordan. One of their lecturers worked in our department for two months during the first semester of 2002. The aim of the applied environmental technology research focus area is to conduct research that could be applied in the implementation of integrated environmental management. Sweden. A second aim is to develop a team of experts and a technology base in applied environmental technology. . biological assessment and biodiversity management. This programme. At a departmental meeting held in April 2002. India. the development of a research focus area in environmental technology was discussed. The focus would be on the development of the human resources in the department of environmental sciences. Hungary. entitled “Educate the educators”. in research capacity and research output. which includes a semester abroad. One of our lecturers visited that institution for three weeks during December 2001. for a training programme on cleaner production. a total of 13 international tertiary educational institutions held a workshop at the BTU in Cottbus. Mexico. It was agreed that a suitable title for the research focus area would be applied environmental technology. Brazil. and the impact of air pollution on land degradation.IJSHE 5. was the beginning of the effective communication and exchange of knowledge between these institutions. These projects are joint research projects undertaken by a number of departments at Technikon Pretoria. the head of the department of environmental sciences joined 21 international higher education institutions at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics. including the departments of civil engineering. and to manage data. Bahrain. Thailand. China.1 16 Focus on applied environmental technology A merger with the department of geology in 2000 gave the research capacity in the department a substantial boost. Technikon Pretoria and a university in Egypt sent the only representatives from the African continent.

Technikon Pretoria has celebrated World Environmental Day as a joint venture of the whole institution. we are involved in changing attitudes towards and perceptions of the natural environment. including hearing-impaired. In these “hands-on” programmes. legal and management services to people who cannot afford to pay for the services of an environmental consultant or an environmental attorney. Our department hosted three students from the BTU during the second semester of 2000. the UK. The criteria of the Legal Aid Board are used to assess which clients will qualify for assistance by the ELMC. The ELMC offers specialist environmental. as well as three students in 2001. Mexico.Russia. We hope to be able to send the first three of our students to Cottbus in 2003. sight-impaired and physically challenged. but has also introduced this environmental awareness programme in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Senior nature conservation students are involved in this project. active participation is the key element. which has been accredited by the Law Society of the Northern Province. We create an “outdoor classroom” where children learn while having fun! Technikon Pretoria is not only active in Gauteng province. The main purpose is to awaken in the future generation a deep and lasting concern for the environment and for sustainable development. These projects are part of a well-planned and implemented environmental awareness programme. China. We also present environmental programmes to schools and organisations that cater for those with disabilities. France. Once again. The department of nature conservation has adopted 30 schools throughout Pretoria. and India. the Czech Republic. Environmental law and management clinic Another interesting development has been the establishment of an Environmental Law and Management Clinic (ELMC) within the Department of Environmental Sciences. as well as dealing with other environmental issues. together with one of our full-time BTech students. All schools and organisations are visited at least 20 times per year. we are challenged to learn more about Zulu traditions. the department of environmental sciences and some departments from the arts faculty. It has been an amazing challenge to them as well as to us. where the Ndumo and Ingwavuma communities have been set on a path towards achieving a positive environmental change. Since 2000. Germany. This is an advisory office. These visits encourage the use of the South African government’s curriculum 2005 for schools. Despite the language barrier. Eight schools are involved in the programmes. The schools range from private schools to previously disadvantaged schools. Argentina. Community service Community service projects are conducted jointly by the department of nature conservation. Students of the Environmental education 17 . which forms part of their training programme. Brazil.

Vol. This is the second year that the ELMC has been in operation. pp. “The great green movement”. 32 No. (1991). They review public participation projects on behalf of clients. some (voluntary) landowners’ associations and some individual clients. Our MBA programme also contains an environmental management component. 2002). advise them on environmental litigation. and carry out various other tasks that fall within the ambit of the ELMC. “Information requirements of integrated environmental policy experiences in the Netherlands”. R. R. 81-3. We will. Vol. more than ever before.1 18 department of environmental sciences are involved in rendering advice on and drafting environmental impact reports and environmental impact assessments. This value is expressed as: “Caring – to make a difference through being actively involved with other people in the institution and to care for the environment”. The role of the EMC The ongoing support of the EMC has been essential for the success of the departments at Technikon Pretoria that are involved in environmental programmes. 2002) on sustainable development with a quote on the front page: “The wild weather is a sign of things to come. A member of staff who is a qualified attorney coordinates the students’ activities. Accountancy. This programme is offered jointly by the departments of tourism management and nature conservation. Last but not least. pp. Bobbin. 13 No. and attending public participation meetings. and Jettes. 3. pp. June. In 1998. Conclusion The September 2. 2002 issue of Time Magazine carried a special report (Sullivan et al. the EMC included the caring principle or philosophy as one of the Technikon’s values in its mission statement. . The clinic has been very active in assisting several clients. such as the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa. 309-15. and specifically the department of environmental sciences. A. we are currently developing a module on environmental management that will be included in virtually all our degree programmes. S. The ELMC has also participated in an international research project on the implementation of “Principle 10” of the Rio Declaration. Adriaanse.S. Environmental Management. References Adams.. advise on the formation of voluntary associations. In 2001. Technikon Pretoria has eight degree programmes that deal with sustainable development. But fresh ideas and new technology can help us make this a green century” (Time Magazine. (1990). Black. (1989). a new programme in ecotourism was introduced. 8. make a contribution to sustainable development in South Africa. “The greening of consumerism”.IJSHE 5. 28-30.

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