Education for Sustainable Development

With a world population of 7 billion people and limited natural resources, we, as individuals and societies need to learn to live together sustainably. We need to take action responsibly based on the understanding that what we do today can have implications on the lives of people and the planet in future. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) empowers people to change the way they think and work towards a sustainable future.

UNESCO aims to improve access to quality education on sustainable development at all levels and in all social contexts, to transform society by reorienting education and help people develop knowledge, skills, values and behaviours needed for sustainable development. It is about including sustainable development issues, such as climate change and biodiversity into teaching and learning. Individuals are encouraged to be responsible actors who resolve challenges, respect cultural diversity and contribute to creating a more sustainable world.Read less

There is growing international recognition of ESD as an integral element of quality education and a key enabler for sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goals(link is external) (SDGs) adopted by the global community for the next 15 years include ESD. Target 4.7 of SDG 4 on education addresses ESD and related approaches such as Global Citizenship Education. UNESCO is responsible for the coordination of the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD.

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IIUM has embarked on a journey to showcase a Malaysian model of university that addresses sustainable development issues using Maqasid Syariah as its foundation. The model hopes to change the ivory tower of the university ecosystem by pushing the agenda of university towards becoming an institution that works together with all other stakeholders of the quadruple helix model; industry, government, and the community. For this purposes IIUM specifically reorientate its vision to humanise education by pioneering and exploring instructional leadership (khalifah) that is most appropriate in embedding trust (amanah) to deliver higher purpose of education‎ (through teaching-learning, responsible research and community engagement) built on sejahtera ‎framework. 

In the aspect of student development, IIUM’s mission is to nurture students who are balanced and harmonious (insan sejahtera) as stipulated in the Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan crafted on values-based holistic and integrated education ‎for sustainable development (Education 2030) through the teaching and Learning that provide conducive shared learning (culture of iqra) ecosystem geared towards  the convergence of knowledge founded on the Tawhid in realising “comprehensive excellence”. Together with these functions, the IIUM research agenda is to engage in research and innovation that are relevant to the maqasid al-shariah and in meeting the global goals‎ of sustainable development (SDGs) aimed at mercy for all (rahmatan lil alamin).

In translating this agenda into a concrete action plan, IIUM has introduced new sustainable development courses, and embedded sustainable development in the existing courses as part of reorientation of curriculum towards Education for Sustainable Development.  The process of curriculum reorientation is changing the narrative of community engagement as what used to be co-curricular activities, into the main curriculum of the university, truly translating the concept of ‘communiversity’ through formal education. IIUM has introduced three new courses as part of university required courses which are:

1)    UNGS 1201: Sustainable Development: Issues, Principles and Practices

2)    Usrah in Action I 

3)    Usrah in Action II


The first course is an introductory level course to set a foundation for students to understand the concept and principles of sustainable development, while the two subsequent courses are designed to implement the concept and principles into actions on the ground. In Usrah in Action I, students are expected to do a community profiling and issue mapping of the community of choice. At the end of the Usrah in Action I, the students will propose a solution project i.e. sustainable community development project to be carried out in Usrah in Action II based on the issues found during the profiling and issue mapping.