Sadaf TAIMUR (Pakistan)

Sadaf is examining how the goal of achieving sustainability could be supported in higher education. At the moment, higher education is mostly about transmitting knowledge and skills. Sadaf works on how to shift to a transformative pedagogy to educate future leaders who can contribute to building a sustainable society.

PhD Student in Sustainability Science, University of Tokyo, Japan

Research focus: sustainability education, transformative learning, and educational psychology

It is a common observation that in preschools, children are taught to share, care, and respect the environment and people. Higher education, on the other hand, is focusing only on lecturing and transmitting knowledge. Sadaf states that there is a need to get behaviour-oriented learning back in higher education as well.

There needs to be a shift from education that uses only transmissive methods to transformative education to educate future leaders who can contribute to building a sustainable society. To foster such leaders, sustainability education shall enable learners to construct, criticise, and act with a high degree of autonomy and self-determination.

To achieve this, it is vital to reform pedagogies (learning processes and learning environment). Therefore, Sadaf’s research is focused on using a transformative learning approach to renew pedagogies in higher sustainability education. Despite the availability of well-established frameworks on transformative learning and the identification of a need of transformative learning in sustainability education, the gap between theory and practice has to be bridged.

Sadaf’s research will help in filling this gap by providing a practical, well-researched pedagogical guideline to bring a transformative learning approach into action for effectively implementing sustainability education.

Based on a literature review, Sadaf is exploring in her PhD research how transformative learning happens while implementing design thinking as pedagogy in higher sustainability education via action research (designing, implementing, and assessing) at the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science – Global Leadership Initiative at the University of Tokyo, Japan. In addition, she will explore case studies of other universities with graduate sustainability education programmes and compare transformative pedagogies being utilised to implement higher sustainability education in Sweden, Germany, Canada and Japan.

Sadaf’s research will result in a pedagogical guideline with a set of pedagogies which can be used to bring behaviour-oriented learning into higher sustainability education. It will be possible to replicate the guideline and easily scale it into other educational programmes as well. The long-term goal is not to force people to adopt sustainable behaviour anymore; on the contrary, sustainability would be the default and young people would lead the way.

The extraordinary topic of Sadaf’s research and her extensive practical experience has attracted positive attention of the jury.