Chapter 26: An exploration of interdisciplinary settings as intellectual spaces for sustainability in higher education
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This chapter critically reflects on the value of interdisciplinary settings in higher education as intellectual spaces for sustainability learning. However, academic activity within such settings experience challenges, with tensions between disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches an example. Using undergraduate Geography in South Africa, this chapter reflects on the value of interdisciplinary intellectual spaces as required for sustainability learning versus the inherent contestation associated with these spaces. This reflection utilizes the undergraduate curricula of 19 Geography Departments at universities in South Africa (2016–2017) and feedback from interviews and focus groups conducted at a selection of these departments. Results reveal that the trend towards interdisciplinarity has a clear footprint in undergraduate Geography curricula in South Africa, especially for modules related to Environmental Science and Management. However, the need for a balance in the undergraduate Geography curriculum with reference to aspects as the discipline’s integrity, vocational requirements and twenty-first century sustainability challenges, is crucially important and cannot be emphasized enough.

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