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This qualitative study examined the experiences of higher education faculty participating in an interdisciplinary team-taught sustainability curricular project. The concept of sustainability, most often considered in relation to environmental concerns or issues, describes any set of conditions or processes that are configured in such a manner as to reinvest resources, thereby allowing for sustained continuation of the process, without a depletion of existing resources. It follows then, that the educational process itself, that is, the pedagogy of sustainability concepts, must also be sustained by its participants. When placed in the context of mounting global concern and interest in education for sustainable development, empirical research on sustainability curriculum and interdisciplinary team-teaching is critical to developing effective solutions and innovations for complex global problems. The United Nations has declared 2005-2014 as the Decade for Education for Sustainable Development. Higher education is a significant forum for teaching students to think critically, comprehensively, and in an integrated way as to engage sustainable solutions to complex world problems. Limited research and findings on team-teaching, interdisciplinary collaborations, and faculty development leave questions for educators about the most effective means to implement innovative options for education of sustainability competencies. Existing formal and substantive theories are insufficient to address the research question: What conditions and resources are necessary for sustainable participation of faculty in interdisciplinary team-teaching of sustainability curriculum? The purpose of this study was to generate theory, grounded in the data, about the faculty development process and/or conditions necessary for sustained faculty collaborations to offer interdisciplinary team-taught sustainability curriculum. Through a process of grounded analysis involving thematic coding, constant comparison, and data saturation, primary themes were constructed into a model for faculty development of interdisciplinary team teaching that may serve as a means for sustainable, renewable, and ongoing faculty participation in an interdisciplinary team-taught sustainability curriculum program. Data for the study was collected during a three year period from 2009-2011 and was collected as part of an ongoing evaluation of the curricular project under investigation, funded by a national educational foundation.
faculty development, grounded theory, interdisciplinary, qualitative, sustainability, team teaching
Date of Defense
November 1, 2011.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education.
Includes bibliographical references.
Joseph Beckham, Professor Directing Dissertation; Ralph Brower, University Representative; Robert A. Schwartz, Committee Member; Kathy Guthrie, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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